Camping on Bryher Island, Isles of Scilly
Camping on Bryher Island
Bryher Island is possibly the best place to take the family on a camping holiday in the UK.
- Sun? Yes (most of the time)
- Sea? Yes
- Scenery? Hell yes!
Everything about camping on Bryher is exciting, from the initial holiday booking right through to the realities of camping on a very small, rugged island.
If you want to visit the Isles of Scilly but don’t want to pay the extortionate rates of self-catering and hotel accommodation, then book yourself in to Bryher campsite and embrace laid-back Island living for your summer staycation 2022.
It’s no surprise that the Isles of Scilly are a popular holiday destination. They enjoy the mildest and warmest climate in the UK and golden sandy beaches to rival the Caribbean. There’s an abundance of wildlife, great food, incredible scenery and loads of family-friendly activities….. need I say more?
Bryher is the smallest inhabited island with dramatic, rugged cliffs on its Northerly side (battered by Atlantic waves) and beautiful white beaches on its protected, Southerly side. There’s a risk you may feel slightly smug whilst relaxing with a beer on an empty beach, watching seals play in the shallows and puffins fly overhead….
There’s little-to-no traffic (a few resident’s vehicles and tractors) and the island has a central hub with café, well-equipped shop, and the Fraggle Rock pub for enjoying a pint. It’s a very safe place for children to roam free and enjoy some independence. Ours were practically feral by the end of the holiday!
Admittedly campsites have been busy since the pandemic hit. Hallelujah to the great British public rediscovering their love for camping! But Bryher campsite doesn’t have your average booking system and it takes planning and preparation to even bag a spot for your tent…
Get yourself ready for a Glastonbury-style scramble for a pitch. Booking for the following season opens at 8am on the 13th November and it’s a first come, first served system….
Get set, go!
Becks and I had planned ‘the booking’ meticulously. We, plus our two husbands, would each sit at a separate device at 8am and try to book. As the clock struck 8, we all frantically sent our enquiry emails and then waited, biting our nails in anticipation, for a response.
Later that morning, we heard from the campsite. My husband’s enquiry had reached them 25 seconds after 8am and we were 3 hours down the queue……. Many dates had already been fully booked but luckily, we bagged a spot in the last week of August. Yes!
Once you have booked into Bryher Campsite, you need to book your travel. There are two ways to get to the Scillies…. helicopter and ferry. Neither are cheap but the ferry is less expensive so we opted for that one!
The Scillonian III is the only passenger ferry to service the Isles of Scilly, leaving from Penzance. It also has one of the friendliest and most helpful teams of staff I have ever come across. Booking on to the ferry was easy, plus parking for the car and extra baggage allowance for the camping gear.
Packing for camping on Bryher
Admittedly, packing for a week’s camping holiday without a car is a challenge! All your gear will travel in crates on the Scillonian to St Mary’s (the largest Island). It’s then transferred onto Bryher’s own boat, the Firethorn and is finally loaded onto tractors to get up to Bryher campsite….. so efficient packing is essential!
- Make sure all your gear is loaded into bags or boxes and securely fastened.
- Though there’s plenty of weight allowance, it’s advisable to be a little restrained when packing. Whilst the wine glasses are essential, the lemon squeezer and other luxury items could be left at home for this camping holiday.
- Carrying your stuff. You’ll be carrying your gear to the ferry crates at Penzance, and then on to the tractor on Bryher so make sure it’s light!
See our Camping Checklist for tips on packing for camping
Getting to Bryher
With gear loaded, car parked and ferry safely on route to the Scilly Isles, sit back and enjoy the ride! The sea can be rough at times but our journey was smooth and sunny, complete with dolphins jumping beside us and Gannets flying overhead.
On arriving at St Mary’s, check the time of the Firethorn’s departure to Bryher (tide dependent). We had time for a little lunch and a swim on St Mary’s before taking the 10 minute ferry over to Bryher.
The campsite is great. Loads of space, beautiful views, good facilities. It’s perfectly situated to explore the Island and just a stones throw from the pub and the beach… winner.
Things to know:
- Camping is £11.75 per person per night (under 4s free)
- 4 x showers, token operated (60p for 4 minutes)
- Phone charging lockers available
- Tractor luggage transfer from the quay on Bryher to campsite £4 per person, return (100% worth it!)
- Bell tents available to hire
- Football/games field
- Freezer for ice blocks
- Jo & Tom (owners) regularly onsite to help and answer questions!
- It can be windy.
- Off-ground fires are allowed but there are no fire pits available. This was a shame as I love a campfire but driftwood fires on the beaches are allowed (see activity below)
Things to do on Bryher Island
There is SOOOOO much cool stuff to do on the Isles of Scilly that you’ll be totally spoilt for choice!
- Sailing and canoeing
Head to Hut 62 on the South East of the Island to rent a canoe or sailing boat. Find your inner Swallows & Amazons and sail between the islands or take a canoe over to Tresco to explore!
The Islands are a haven for incredible wildlife! Look out to sea for dolphins and seals, and under water for crabs, lobsters and starfish. There are sea birds everywhere! From Gannets to Puffins to Oystercatchers. On the Islands, you might see stick insects, black rabbits and a tonne of butterflies. You can go on an organised wildlife tour by land or sea or just take some binoculars on a walk.
As I mentioned, there’s a lot of wildlife to sea on Bryher Island. Grab yourself a snorkel and take a look… Choose any number of the sheltered, sandy bays to head out from.
Each of the Isles of Scilly are great for walking and easily accessible via footpaths. With loads to see on each Island you could try walking around all of them (the bigger ones anyway)
- Island hopping & boat trips
Each Island is connected by a network of passenger boats. Check the daily timetable and spend the day hopping between the Islands. St Martin’s for breakfast, St Mary’s for lunch and Bryher for supper! Or hire a boat to plan your own route.
- BBQ on the beach
Driftwood fires are allowed on Bryher. Grab some fresh seafood from the fantastic Island Fish shop and head down to the beach for a sunset supper
An absolute must on any trip to the Scilly Isles. There’s a hidden sea-cave on the north east tip of Tresco called Piper’s Hole. It’s an old smuggler’s haunt and is fantastic to explore! Take head torches and clamber down through the rocks into the darkness. See if you can find the hidden boat and journey through the cave to find pirate treasure…..
What’s the downside?
We were incredibly fortunate with the weather during our stay at Bryher Campsite – it was sunny and warm but windy. The Isles of Scilly have better than average weather but a cold and rainy holiday might be particularly challenging as there’s little to do indoors.
Take waterproofs and some board games just in case!
- Rough sea crossing
The crossing can be rough at times.
Other adventures in the South West
Fancy a holiday in the South West or Wales? Read our holiday guides here: