I think Bryher is my favourite Scilly island. For one thing it’s a nice shape to negotiate. You get dropped at one of two quays on the eastern coast. It is a short hop from Tresco and during exceptionally low Spring tides you can cross on foot. The island is 2 km long and 1km wide at it’s broadest point. Easily circumperambulated in a day with plenty of time to stop, linger, look.
The so-called settlement at Great Pool / Hell Bay Hotel is the westernmost in England. The centre of Bryher is mainly low-lying with arable fields, pasture and housing with a shop, a café and Island Fish. The latter is a small shack-type establishment where you can get freshly-made crab sandwiches or a lobster salad with change from your fiver or tenner! On the west side is the Great Pool overlooked by the Hell Bay Hotel and in the south are sandy beaches, a common feature on the island, Rushy Bay being an example.
Setting foot on terra firma Nick and I strike uphill, westwards. We pass Island Fish thinking to buy a crab sandwich but in the event the proprietor is out of crab but can offer us a lobster salad. Although strictly a take-away establishment we are able to sit at the small table outside to eat, and enjoy our lovely little salad with the pot of tea she makes for us as a friendly gesture. With that wonderful feeling of having eaten some food of the gods we set off and crest the ridge of the island then we vere north slightly to follow a track which skirts fields and which then loops round to take us Great Popplestone where we enjoy some mazes more modern than that of St Agnes. There are also a few discreet cairns at the top of the beach there, each composed of a single boulder upon which a slightly smaller one is placed and so on……….. There is also a composite one.
We call in at Hell Bay Hotel and spend a happy hour in their lounge over a good cappuccino and the daily papers. Continuing around the coast we pass the western flank of Sampson Hill and suddenly happen upon a host of golden daffodils and a beautiful vista thrown in.
The meander round the rest of the island takes us along the southeast coast then by some leafy tracks and under leafy bowers to reach the quay where I gaze out over crystal clear water towards Cromwell’s Castle and from which we will be picked up and whisked back to Tresco.