In summer 2021, Lowenna Pascoe - known on Instagram as @Cornwall_Lover - took a very special helicopter day trip to the amazing archipelago just off Cornwall...
With the term 'staycation' now well and truly part of our vocabulary, I escaped the crowds of Cornwall for the day to what can only be described as pure paradise.
As a child and through to my teens, my Dad, before he sadly passed away, would smile ear to ear as we waved him off for his annual visits to the Isles of Scilly. He would go for a few nights, 2-3 times a year, with his friends from the Newquay Rowing Club and often my Mum.
I remember him always coming back with funny stories, proud of spotting certain birds on the islands (he was a keen bird watcher). Recently, I watched some old home movies that my Mum created of the two of them exploring the islands, the gardens, the Caribbean like beaches and incredible landscapes. The joy in their faces is something I will never forget.
Our family home was called Bryher, which means land of the hills. Of course, my Dad named our family home after his favourite location, one of the Isles of Scilly. It's the trip he looked forward to, year after year. He never went abroad; he didn't like flying, but he also didn't see the point. Why go abroad when you have paradise on your doorstep?
So, this is where I wanted to go with my friend Jessica. I had to visit Bryher to find out why it stole my Dads heart…
When travelling to the Isles of Scilly, you choose to go by helicopter, plane or ferry. I travelled in style and was lucky enough to fly with Penzance Helicopters, the perfect transport for a day trip to the islands.
The 15-minute flight gives you plenty of time to explore and be back on the mainland the same day. Check-in was seamless, the team were friendly, and oh my, did we feel like celebrities! The helicopters are spacious and plush; I could get used to travelling like this. As cliché as this phrase is, it was an experience of a lifetime.
Let's talk about the views! It doesn't get much better than this. I have travelled to the Caribbean, and this trumped the view of Barbados from the plane. Swirling blues, yachts and fishing boats gliding through the water and the whitest sand you will ever see in the UK. Watch my video from the air to see all of this in action.
Once we touched down on Tresco Island, still in awe of what we had just experienced, we headed towards the spot where we were to catch our boat over to Bryher, but not before a quick pit stop on one of Tresco's most stunning beaches.
The water was crystal clear and still; our shoes were kicked off instantly, desperate to take a dip. Once out, we scoured the beach for the famous cowrie shell, a unique and intricate shell so famously found on Scilly. Unfortunately, we weren't lucky this time, but we still had plenty of beaches to visit…
We were soon at the quay and on the jet boat heading to Bryher for the first time; my heart was pounding with excitement and anticipation. Once off the boat, I felt a sudden rush of emotion as I looked around at the greenery, powder-white beaches, bright turquoise water, birdsong, and a sense of freedom. I wanted to bottle the feeling up forever. This is the feeling my Dad must have had; I instantly felt closer to him and started to meander through the garden paths.
Our first stop was to visit the team at Hut62 Boat Hire, where they offer kayaking, SUP boards, Pedalboards, sailing and small motor punts. We opted for a double kayak and stayed close to the bay as our paddles glided through the water.
While floating in the kayak, I noticed an island. My Mum had mentioned that my Dad would go to an inhabited island close by called Samson. I asked the fantastic team if this was the one from her stories, and to my surprise, it was. We hopped into a small motor punt and were taken over to the island.
It was just the two of us, on this perfect little island where the sand sparkled in the sun, making it look like it was covered in diamonds. I have never seen anything so beautiful. We jumped around with excitement, dipped in and out of the water and took a moment to appreciate this fantastic location. I must come back here one day.
Once back on Bryher, Jessica and I explored the island and walked up to Timmy's Hill, a peak that gave you fantastic views. Timmy's Hill is one of the seven peaks that gives Bryher its name ("Land of the Hills"). From north to south, these are Badplace Hill, Shipman Head, Watch Hill, Gweal Hill, Timmy's Hill, Heathy Hill and Samson Hill. If you're a keen rambler, you could make it around all of them in one day.
While exploring, you get a real sense of island life. The local gardens were overflowing with beautiful flowers and so well maintained; each islander nodded and waved as you strolled by.
We stopped at the Veronica Farm Fudge honesty stall, a little cart with a collection of homemade fudge. As a child, islander Issy found an old family recipe and started making fudge to pay for ballet lessons; it has since grown so much that she now makes fudge for mail order and has her children help out in the kitchen. We, of course, bought some, left our money and walked around the island nibbling on the tastiest fudge that melted in your mouth. If you love cake, then Olivia's Kitchen is nearby; grab a homemade slice and cup of coffee and sit in its tropical gardens as you watch island life go by.
By now, we were getting a little hungry, so we headed to Hell Bay Hotel, home to Scilly's only 3 AA Rosette restaurant, a bar serving excellent food at lunchtimes and evenings, and the unique Crab Shack.
We sat on the large outdoor terrace, enjoying gorgeous views across the island. After a glass of wine on arrival, we applied ourselves to lunch from the award-winning menu. Bruschetta and calamari to start, with a steak for myself and fish and chips for Jessica's main. The service, the food, the views, everything about this place felt beautiful, and it was clear to see why it was so busy.
We had one more stop before we needed to head back to the quay: the one I had been waiting for all day. Dad always talked about Fraggle Rock: a place on the island that felt like home and where he spent a lot of his evenings. Yes, it is the island local! Set in a beautiful location towards the rugged north of the island, with plenty of seating outside and staff that just couldn't do enough for you.
Dad would always enjoy a pint of Guinness, so that's what I ordered, and sat in the garden, looking out at the birds gliding by. This is why he liked this spot. It wasn't just a pub; it was where wildlife comes and goes and a place to join the locals and visitors alike, who all had one thing in common: a strong and pure love for the Isles of Scilly, a home from home.
With a heavy heart, it was time to leave. So we jumped on a jet boat back to St Mary's, where we headed to the airport for another unforgettable journey by helicopter. Yes – you can fly into Tresco and back from St Mary's, or vice versa! It's the best way to make the most of a whole day of island-hopping and see as much of Scilly as possible in a day.
We jam-packed so much into one day, something you wouldn't be able to do if you travelled by ferry. This was something I will never forget and will always be grateful for; a trip of a lifetime, but one I hope to repeat time and time again.
Find out more about Lowenna's favourite location on the Cornwall_Lover Instagram
Helicopter Day Trips & Scenic Flights
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