Inter-island boat trips on the Isles of Scilly archipelago off Cornwall, England

Island hopping on the Isles of Scilly

The Scilly Isles are comprised of five inhabited islands, with St Mary’s the base for most tourists; it’s where you’ll arrive from mainland England and also where you’ll find the capital, Hugh Town.

Of course it’s made super easy to travel between, or around (if on a wildlife safari), the other islands–the St Mary’s Boatmen’s Association advertise each day’s trips on the main street and by their hut on the harbour. During our time in the Isles of Scilly one of the trips on offer was to visit two islands in one day: Bryher, then Tresco.

Day trips from St Mary's harbour, Isles of ScillyTake a boat trip from St Mary's Harbour, Isles of Scilly, UKFind out about day trips from St Mary's Boatmen's Association on the harbour, Isles of ScillyTaking inter-island boat trips on Scilly Isles, CornwallHow to take an inter-island trip on the Scilly Isles, Cornwall, an archipelago 45km off the coast of England

Bryher

If nothing else, you’ll want to visit Bryher so you can witness the ferocity of notorious Hell Bay first hand. I took photos, videos and Boomerangs but it just doesn’t come across half as beautifully terrifying as it is in real life.

We underestimated the size of Bryher and with less than two hours on the island quickly ran out of time. There is much more to see than just Hell Bay. I mean, would you look at that water

Arriving on the island of Bryher, Scilly Isles, Cornwall - believe it or not, this is EnglandVisiting the island of Bryher, Scilly Isles, CornwallVisiting Bryher on the Isles of Scilly, EnglandBryher island church on the Scilly Isles, CornwallClassic red telephone box on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, EnglandBryher, the Scilly Isles archipelago in Cornwall, EnglandBryher, on the Scilly Isles off Cornwall, bears the full force of the Atlantic SeaExploring the tiny British island of Bryher, Scilly Isles, CornwallFlowers growing on the Isles of Scilly, CornwallRoadside stalls on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall

First: there are two arrival/departure points on Bryher so pay attention to the captain of your boat as you dock, because they’ll tell you if your collection point is the other quay.

Secondly: wear a waterproof to travel. Our boat was low, the sea was choppy, and I got drenched, to the amusement of the other daytrippers (all in good humour, they were laughing with me). Luckily it was a beautiful day so my denim dress and sea-soaked hair dried quickly–honestly, I was more worried about my cameras and phone.

Tresco island as seen from Bryher, Isles of Scilly, CornwallLooking from Bryher to Tresco island, Isles of Scilly, EnglandIsland-hopping tips for the remote Isles of Scilly, off the coast of EnglandVisiting Bryher and Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of CornwallTresco and Bryher islands, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall

We didn’t have a plan, so just wandered in the sunshine. As on the other Isles it’s bizarre to see familiar British icons like the red phone box on an almost-tropical island. Also dotted along the roads are huts where people sell things; you just pop some money in the honesty box, which is such a sweetly old-fashioned and trusting idea. On Bryher I picked up a bicycle-printed pouch that’s ideal for beauty essentials in my handbag.

I had two highlights on Bryher: the little cove above, from which you can see across to Tresco (I can’t find it named on any maps* but it’s near Fraggle Rock Café); and the prehistoric cairns and Shipman Head, running alongside Hell Bay. I’d love to have spent more time exploring this northern part of the island, but it was time to catch the boat across to Tresco…

*You can find a map of Bryher on the tourism website.

Walking on the island of Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UKWalking in the Isles of Scilly, UKHiking on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UKWalking tips for the Isles of Scilly, UKWalking on Shipman Head on the island of Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UKCromwell's Castle on Tresco island, Isles of Scilly, UKPrehistoric Cairns on the island of Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UKPrehistoric cairns in Cornwall, England - on the island of Bryher, part of the Isles of ScillyCromwell's Castle on Tresco island as seen from the prehistoric cairns of Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UKHell Bay, England | Isles of Scilly, CornwallEngland's Hell Bay, notorious for shipwrecks | Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UKCatching the boat to Tresco from Bryher's bar, Isles of Scilly, UKTravelling between the Isles of Scilly, UK: from Bryher to TrescoIsland hopping on the Isles of Scilly, England: day-tripping to Bryher and Tresco

Tresco

There is a lot to see on Tresco: you’ll definitely want to tick off Cromwell’s Castle and King Charles’ Castle, and probably the Abbey Garden too (though we knew we wouldn’t make it to the last on that little list).

We had about three hours on the island, which turned out–of course–to not be enough time at all.

Visiting the island of Tresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandCromwell's Castle on Tresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandMy tips for visiting the Isles of Scilly, England, including island-hopping between St Mary's, Bryher and TrescoCromwell's Castle, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, CornwallThe C17th Cromwell's Castle, Isles of Scilly, EnglandTresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandVisiting Cromwell's Castle in the Isles of Scilly, England, UKEnglish Heritage property: Cromwell's Castle, Isles of Scilly, England

First on the agenda was Cromwell’s Castle, a circular gun tower built in the 1600s to protect Tresco’s New Grimsby harbour; on the battery two cannons still face out onto the Atlantic Ocean, as if awaiting attack.

The castle is now Grade II listed and managed by English Heritage. It’s tiny but well-maintained and entry is free, so it’s definitely worth a 10-minute detour to poke around inside.

Inside the historic Cromwell's Castle on the Isles of Scilly, England, UKInside Cromwell's Castle on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UKInside the 17th century Cromwell's Castle on the Isles of Scilly, EnglandInside Cromwell's Castle on Tresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandTresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandTresco, in the British archipelago the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of EnglandMy quick guide to taking an inter-island on the Isles of Scilly, EnglandVisiting the Isles of Scilly, UK

Then, we trekked up the hill to an even more historic artillery fortress: King Charles’ Castle.

Built in the mid-1550s, King Charles’ Castle is now an impressive-in-itself ruin. As a fort it wasn’t actually a very effective design and was partially blown up after Tresco was invaded by Sir Robert Blake in the 1600s; some of the stone was re-used for Cromwell’s Castle.

By this point we were famished, so headed across Tregarthen Hill back to civilisation.

How to visit the remote British island of Tresco, Isles of ScillyTresco, Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UKKing Charles' Castle, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, EnglandVisiting the ruin of King Charles' Castle, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, CornwallInside the ruins of King Charles' Castle, Isles of Scilly, UKLooking out to sea from inside King Charles' Castle, Isles of Scilly, UKKing Charles' Castle ruins, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, CornwallHiking on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, England

The weather quickly began to turn, as is the way when you’re by the sea (never mind a tiny island that bears the brunt of the Atlantic Ocean–the nearest land in the opposite direction to England is Newfoundland, 3,400km away).

We just managed to catch the end of the lunch shift at the acclaimed New Inn and gratefully sheltered from the weather–which had become really nasty. After some excellent grub we headed to the harbour to catch a boat back to St Mary’s and the open arms of another pub.

Further reading:

What I wore:
Aubin and Wills denim dress (similar)
Saltwater Sandals
Collection WEEKEND by John Lewis straw tote

Hiking on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, UKWalking on Tresco on the Isles of Scilly, CornwallA brilliant English hike: Tresco, Isles of Scilly, CornwallWildflowers growing on the Isles of Scilly, Cornwall, EnglandLunch at the New Inn on Tresco, Isles of Scilly, UK

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