Bryher: an insider’s guide
Bryher Island is an isle of many moods. On one side, it’s regularly and repeatedly pounded by the Atlantic, while on the other, you’ll find calm sandy beaches taken seemingly from a postcard. It’s a place of contrasts – contrasts that alter and change with the weather and the tides – which makes it the ideal place to immerse yourself in Scilly life and discover what it’s really about.
Getting to and from Bryher
Because the island is affected by tides, your arrival and departure points may well be different depending on the water level. If it’s low, you’ll likely arrive and depart from Bar (aka Annekas Quay), which is on the beach to the east of Island Fish. If there’s water, then the boats will drop you and pick you up from Quay, which lies to the east of the church.
The tripper boat crew will always tell you which quay they’ll collect you from, but if you’re still unsure, just pop into our shop – or indeed one of the other island businesses – and they’ll be able to help. If you are staying on Bryher or Tresco you are likely be travelling via the boat services provided by Tresco boats (and link to their website). If you are visiting Bryher from St Mary’s or St Martins then the boat service is provided by St Mary’s Boatmen Association (https://www.scillyboating.co.uk), and if you are staying on St Agnes’s you’ll need to check with St Agnes boating (https://www.stagnesboating.co.uk). Similarly, for boat times, Bryher has two boards that are updated daily with all boat times for services run by Tresco Boats. One is next to the phone box museum in the ‘town’, the other on the wall by Atlanta cottage, on the road down to Great Par.
Bryher’s best beaches
Everyone has their favourite beach here. For us, whatever the time of year, we’d always recommend the beautiful white sands of Rushy Bay. Looking out to Samson, with views of the Bishop Rock Lighthouse, it’s easy at Rushy to forget that you’re in the UK.
For those keen to take a dip, well, what could be better than a sunrise swim? These are best
enjoyed from the beach down at the Quay or from Green Bay, but be sure to keep yourself visible for the boats. Great Par is always lovely for a swim too, and it’s usually fairly quiet. Depending on the time of year, if you go in the evening, you may even catch the sunset!
Wildlife watching and rockpooling
If you find yourself walking around the south of Bryher, it’s worth spending some time looking for seals. We think the best spot for seal watching is the small bay between Rushy Bay and Droppy Nose Point, sometimes referred to as Stoney Par.
There are numerous places to go rock pooling around Bryher but the most fun is to head out into the channel during one of the low spring tides where you’ll almost certainly find starfish, crabs and other creatures. That is, if you are brave enough to get your feet wet and investigate beneath the seaweed!
Historical sites of interest
A walk round Bryher will almost certainly take you to the wonderfully wild and windswept northern end of the island known as Shipman Head Down. The heathland here is particularly important for lichens, but look a little closer and you’ll find scatterings of granite which are actually part of a prehistoric cairn cemetery.
Another fantastic walk is to head to the south of the island and climb Samson Hill, where you will find Neolithic/Bronze Age entrance graves and cairns. Here, if you let your imagination run away with you, you’ll will conjure up images of prehistoric farming communities tending the once fertile fields, now covered by the channel between Tresco, Bryher and Samson. Continue over the top of Samson Hill and head down the path which takes you down the southern side, and you will find Works Cairn, a truly magnificent oval shaped cairn which looks out across to Samson.
Bryher isn’t a very big island, however there are plenty of short walks. Our favourite route is the circular walk around the whole island. If you’ve got an hour or so free then you can cover the north and south ends of the island in one go and see just how varied the landscape on Bryher is. The north is wild and rugged, whilst the south is dotted with secluded white sandy eaches where you may be lucky enough to have the beach to yourself. A perfect spot for a picnic is on the top of Gweal Hill, looking out across the Norrard rocks, where you can listen for the faint songs of the seals resting on Gweal.