The Isles of Scilly is the subtropical tip of Britain 49 degrees north of the equator and a paradise on earth. Discover Bryher...


It’s the subtropical tip of Britain 49 degrees north of the equator and a paradise on earth. CAROL BURNS heads for the Isles of Scilly and Bryher’s Hell Bay Hotel.

The idyllic Isles of Scilly offer a break unlike any other - a collection of more than 100 islands, circled in white sandy beaches, only five are inhabited. Flying across from Land’s End Airport - via a boatride from St Mary’s - we head for Bryher, the smallest of the inhabited islands at one mile by one and a half miles. It is a glorious paradise where the ocean is never more than a few steps way.

We head for particularly Eden-like corner on the island’s only hotel. Hell Bay Hotel is a collection of luxury rooms boasting stunning views and 3AA rosette fine dining.

The restaurant looks out onto the ocean - there is a special sunset deck where you can quietly watch the sun slip into the ocean at the right time of year. An outdoor pool, children’s play area, sauna, steam room and giant chess board provides plenty of activities - there is also a mini golf course and collection of coastal blue and bijou hen houses (where younger - and older - guests can grow their morning appetite by collecting their eggs before handing them over to the kitchen staff to be cooked to order for breakfast).

A wander around the island reveals a fabulous gallery set over two floors to while away any hour and spend some holiday money, as well as a handy shop and post office and a café. Back at Hell Bay and a three-course meal awaits - with vegetarian and vegan menus available. My nine-year-old loved the break from kids menus of chips and pizzas to enjoy butternut squash risotto, toasted couscous and ratatouille after a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion tartin starter all rounded off with an all-Cornish cheeseboard, coffee for the grown-up and a share of petit fours for the younger diner. It’s no surprise they have just been Highly Commended in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence.

Daily boat trips take us to the surrounding islands - we headed to the neighbouring island of Tresco taking a walk along the coastal path to Cromwell’s Castle for a must photo-op before heading for the famous Abbey Gardens. The gardens offer stunning vistas from every possible angle, beautiful walks and tropical planting as far as the eye can see. For a nine-year-old there is as much fun to be had spotting the varied wildlife among the plantlife before it’s time to head back to our own slice of paradise at Hell Bay Hotel - if there is a more ironically named accommodation I’d like to hear about it.

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What to do on Bryher

Eat Veronica Farm fudge A family run business, producing a quality fudge with all natural ingredients sourced locally and ethically.

Crack crab shells at The Crab Shack Visitors to the hotel during summer months will also be spoilt with the opportunity for a rare dining experience at the hotel’s pop-up Crab Shack’, a rustic outdoor restaurant eatery ran from the former barn – straight from the boat crab, mussels and scallops are served in the shell. From May to September a former barn is transformed to hold four-weekly claw-cracking feasts. A rustic banquet, popular with islanders and visitors alike, offers crab, mussels and scallops fresh from the surrounding waters. Hearty chunks of fresh bread, fries and salad are served to make up the feast. Aprons, shell-cracking tools, shelling demonstrations and making friends at the communal tables are all part of the experience!

Visit Bryher Boatyard The boatyard provides boatshare in the island. There are workshop facilities, storage and moorings. Visit the chandlers shop for fishing and nautical gifts.

Visit a site of Specific Scientific Interest The island has three sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The first is Shipman Head and Shipman Down, where you’ll find maritime heather and rare plants. The second is the Pool of Bryher and Popplestone Bank, a natural lagoon separated from the sea. The third is Rushy Bay and Heathy Hill. The island is also visited by various species of breeding sea birds such as the European Storm-Petral and the Greater Black-backed Gull.