Taking flight: an Isles of Scilly family holiday adventure

The new helicopter service is a fun way to arrive on Scilly; the short flight highlighting the contrast between the busy mainland and the remote bliss of the sand-fringed islands

With a single space that combines cafe, check-in and departure lounge, tiny Land’s End airport is a kind of anti-Gatwick. Last week, during the half-term holidays, the closest it got to frantic was a buzz of interest in the departure lounge as the newly reinstated helicopter, the first to link the Isles of Scilly and the mainland since 2012, was wheeled out like an oversized dog on a morning walk. There’s something about a helicopter that inspires a kick of childish joy and the 20-minute flight to St Mary’s was, if anything, over too soon. From the air, the islands appeared more like my idea of the archipelago in Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea novels than anything I expected to see 30 miles off the UK coast.

Related: Isles of Scilly holiday guide: what to do, plus the best beaches, restaurants and hotels

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