I wanted a family holiday in England but also needed the journey to be part of the adventure too. The Isles of Scilly was the perfect location as we needed a tube, train, plane, taxi, boat and taxi to get to our hotel yet it only took from breakfast time to mid-afternoon to complete the journey.
We stayed at Hell Bay, the only hotel on Bryher, the smallest of the inhabited islands. The contrast from our morning in London couldn’t be greater as Hell Bay is in a secluded cove on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. There can be few hotels in the British Isles that enjoy such a spectacular and picturesque setting. Hell Bay remains eternally popular with families as well as couples looking for a place to escape, relax and recharge.
There are just 25 rooms and great facilities including a heated outdoor pool which we loved. The view from our first floor room was breathtaking and I sat out on the balcony and watched the sun set each night. Even when it wasn’t sunny the view was still outstanding.
Hell Bay prides itself on serving fresh, local, seasonal dishes and our breakfast could not have been fresher as we collected the egg ourselves from the hen house! The dinner menu is incredibly creative for such a remote location and my daughter was unsure if we could actually eat the dishes as they looked like works of art.
We took a day trip to Tresco and had lunch at the Ruin Beach Cafe which makes good use of the fish, crab and lobster from local fishermen. We spent the rest of the day playing on the beach in front of the restaurant as it’s such an idyllic location.
About the Isles of Scilly
There are around 150 islands and rocks that make up the Isles of Scilly and they are located about 28 miles off the southwestern tip of the Cornwall. There are five inhabited islands and many uninhabited making this a popular area for ornithology. The airport is on St Mary’s, the largest island with a population around 1,500, and Tresco is the second largest and is privately-owned by the Dorrien Smith family, who also own Hell Bay. The Tresco Abbey Gardens are worth a visit to see the 5,000 sub-tropical and exotic plants. St Martin’s is known for its white beaches and clear waters, St Agnes is the most south-westerly community in the British Isles, and Bryher is the smallest inhabited island with less than 100 people living there. You can find out more about the islands and what to do there at: www.visitislesofscilly.com.
What to do on Bryher
We enjoyed walking all over the island and playing on the beaches. We only paddled in the sea but some of the other hotel guests went for a refreshing swim each morning and the big kids loved snorkelling. As well as the hotel facilities including tennis courts, golf, croquet and an outdoor heated pool, we visited the island shop which caters for all the visitors and residents so is well-stocked, and we had tea and scones at the Vine Cafe. The Fraggle Rock pub is England’s most westerly pub and classed as a Jamie Oliver ‘Best British Boozer’ but was closed when we went to visit (not all day opening). And do remember you could just try relaxing at this peaceful location. Find out more at: www.bryher-islesofscilly.co.uk.
The Isles of Scilly feel very safe and children can have the freedom to explore here much more than they ever could in a city. I didn’t get to see the puffins, nor did I try scuba diving to see the incredible amount of ship wrecks. So I’ll have to go back in spring, and bring my wellies, when the tides mean it’s actually possible to walk between the islands of Bryher, Tresco and Samson.
I really did enjoy our time on the Isles of Scilly and have written about it for Anglotopia too (where you’ll find lots more photos).
This article was first published on the VisitBritain Super Blog in 2012.