Friday, 19 September 2014

Tresco & Bryher Food Festival Day 2.

On Sunday after my adventurous trek to Cromwell's Castle and King Charles's Castle on Tresco, I caught the boat over to Bryher for the last day of the food festival on the Isles of Scilly. It's a big old wooden boat which transports residents and visitors between the islands. They've recently invested in a brand new speed boat as well, which I went on in the evening and as my shuttle between Tresco and St Mary's when catching my flights. If you read my first blog post on Tresco, there's a photo at the end of that post of my grandfather and ancestors in one of the old original wooden boats!

Anyway, so I got the boat across to Bryher and it dropped us off on a tiny jetty on a beach. I looked all around me and realized that this island was very different from the others I'd been to. Bryher was the only inhabited island I hadn't been to before, and all of a sudden it felt very isolated and rugged, however the scenery was beautiful (just look at the photo above!). Luckily a lovely man was taking some people to the Hell Bay Hotel in his van, so he offered me a ride to the community centre where the food festival was being held. 

Tresco and Bryher Food Festival Isles of Scilly

We passed the church on our way, and I made a mental note of where it was so I could come back later and investigate the cemetery to see if my 5x great grandmother's family were buried in there, as they all came from Bryher. I arrived at the full community centre to countless food stalls and a lovely big table and chairs in the middle for people to sit down and eat their slices of homemade cake and fajitas! I had a wander, sampled some tasters, and bought some bags of Veronica Farm Fudge.

After sampling the food I then walked down to the church, but sadly couldn't find anything - the cemetery was tiny! So I walked back up towards the Hell Bay Hotel and went onto the beach. I sat for a while lost in my own thoughts and a couple of small birds came to join me, they were very friendly and quite happily sat there on the rocks near me, before I got up to partake in some beachcombing, which was a task in itself due to the amount of seaweed washed up on the shore.

Birdwatching on Isles of Scilly

Beachcombing Bryher isles of scilly

Bryher Isles of Scilly beach

Man in a rowing boat Isles of Scilly

Man in rowing boat Isles of Scilly

Bryher Scilly Isles

View from Bryher Isles of scilly

Pebbles on Bryher Isles of Scilly
After beachcombing, and then eating an entire bag of chocolate fudge by myself, I walked all around the south half of the island, and then back to the huge hill in the centre. 

Bryher Isles of Scilly

Bryher Isles of Scilly

Bryher Isles of Scilly

I then had a couple of hours to kill before dinner at the famous Crab Shack, so I wandered into the Hell Bay Hotel bar and got myself a drink and bag of crisps (because I hadn't eaten enough already that day/weekend). I got chatting to the lovely barman, and then a man who was sitting on a table nearby with a large group of older people invited me to sit with them as I was by myself. Seriously, why is everyone so nice here!? I chatted to them all for a good hour, before leaving to head to the Crab Shack. The lovely people I'd been chatting to told me how it's always booked up, so next year they're going to hold it four nights a week instead of just two. Apparently Judi Dench and James Corden were in there a few weeks ago!

The Crab Shack is in a tiny stone outhouse in the middle of a field. There's a small marquee attached, which is where the kitchen is, and everyone sits on big long tables all together, so you're mingling and chatting with the people sat around you. To start with I chose scallops cooked in the lemon and chive butter, a medium crab for main cooked in the parsley and garlic butter, and then the eton mess for dessert. Despite the sign saying all dishes are for sharing, I did not share. I don't share food. Now, just a small warning, major food porn below...

Menu of Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly

Kitchen at Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly
People dining at Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly

Scallops at Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly

Scallops at Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly

The scallops were the freshest I've ever had the pleasure of tasting. They melted in your mouth and the presentation was wonderful; each scallop was served in a shell resting in your chosen butter. Each shell was then placed in one of the huge Portuguese cataplanas which were used for both the starters and mains.

Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack Isles of Scilly
The interior of the Crab Shack was rustic and intimate, and I got chatting to a lovely young-ish couple. They were adventurous sorts who travel round the world doing exciting things like scuba diving and kayaking. I admitted to them that I only ever kayak when the water is completely flat, however they were very impressed when I told them about how I saved a kayakers life a few years ago. When it came to discussing scuba diving I daren't tell them I hyperventilate just from snorkelling! 

Anyway, next up was the crab. I've only recently been a fan of crab, but now I'm hooked - I had it three times whilst on Scilly! The crab is caught daily, and whatever isn't used at the Crab Shack is sold to the locals the following morning. When it arrived and I exclaimed I had no clue what to do, one of the waiters very kindly showed me how to twist out the joints and break the crab's legs (sounds horrid doesn't it!) and hook out the meat with the meat picker. 

Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly

Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack Bryher Isles of Scilly

Soon enough I was digging in and getting myself covered in crab and butter! Thank goodness we had our aprons on! I quite liked the darker meat in the body, however after a while it does get a bit much as it's very rich. It's good in small doses. I did however dip my fries into the sauce - mmhmm! 

Hell Bay Hotel Crab Shack on Bryher Isles of Scilly
Despite being full from the crab, and with only half an hour to go until our boat back to Tresco, I ummd and ahhd over whether or not to have dessert. Eventually after seeing everyone else's I went for it. It did not disappoint. A huge mountain of cream, meringue, strawberries, and strawberry coulis, naturally I wolfed it down and then regretted it, as usual. 

Eton mess at the Bryher Crab Shack

Bryher Crab Shack Eton Mess

Before I knew it it was time to head back to Tresco, luckily we didn't have to walk in the dark, as the man who'd given me a lift earlier in the day drove us all down to the beach so we could get the boat. The Crab Shack was such a fun experience, it was great to really get hands-on with the food and it was a total ice-breaker as everyone had a great time laughing and joking together. It really does make you appreciate ready-prepared crab though! It's hard work!

Dusk over Bryher Isles of scilly

This time we took the speedboat rather than the old wooden boat, and within a couple of minutes we were back at New Grimsby on Tresco. I wandered back to the New Inn and packed my bags. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, it'd been a lovely weekend of being surrounded by peace and tranquility, beautiful scenery, and the knowledge that I was literally stepping in the path of my ancestors. It'd been quite a busy weekend with a lot of walking, and a lot of eating sumptuous meals, however it had been a much needed weekend away by myself, to think and really rejuvenate after a few busy months with no time to just stop and think. A huge thank you to Visit Isles of Scilly for organizing the trip for me! 

Stay tuned for tomorrow's post where I'll give you all the information on the Isles of Scilly as a holiday destination!

Night on Tresco Isles of scilly

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*I was a guest of Visit Isles of Scilly throughout my stay on the islands. To discover more about holidays and events on the Isles of Scilly, go to


  1. Absolutely STUNNING and making me miss those pretty islands so much. Love the sparrow!

    Meryl x

    1. They're so gorgeous aren't they! The sparrows were so friendly!

      C x


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