How A Fortunate Isle Might Become Next Venue for Cornish Snapper

by martinhesp


The other day I was in this enigmatic place. Tresco is always beautiful, but it can be a moody, atmospheric place on a winter’s evening.

And so it was recently when I strolled around the island on my own. The walk took about two hours, and not a single person did I see. In fact, it was such a lonely experience I was glad to bump into an old friend later that night in the pub.

Anyway, on that lonesome sojourn the thought struck me that the island would make a good location for my next Cornish Snapper story.
Why not? It’s got everything. Fabulous white beaches are backed by dark pine woods, tiny fields rise to meet the moorland in the north of the island – there are caves and fortresses, sub-tropical gardens and meandering lanes – there are lots of extremely posh looking holiday homes and, of course, the aforementioned pub.

So peaceful and pleasant was the scene the other afternoon it was impossible to get my head around the idea that 112 pirates were beheaded in a single day on Tresco in 1209. What a wild and terrible place it must have been then. Despite the bloodshed, piracy flourished there until the 17th century – God only knows how many other people died at the sword.

The island is renowned for its fortresses. Cromwell’s Castle dominates the straits which divide Tresco and Bryher, and it is open so that you can wander in and climb the circular stair to look out over the narrows which make up the most picturesque anchorage in Scillonia.

Having won the Battle of Tresco in 1651, the Roundhead’s built this impressive fortification to defend the channel from the marauding Dutch, and it is quite evident that any Lowlander sailing in here must have either been desperate or mad.

King Charles’ Castle is a few hundred yards above on the highest point of the island. It was built before it’s mightier neighbour, but was rendered useless as it was perched too high for the job it had to do. You have to imagine enemy ships coming into the Strait far below – the gunners would have had to aim downhill and the cannonballs would simply have rolled out of the barrels.

Anyway, all this bloody history adds to an atmosphere which at times – especially in winter – can be just a little bit sepulchral. Indeed, the big lake in Tresco’s southern quarter is one of the most moody stretches of water I know, especially when viewed in the winter gloaming, as it was here.

So perhaps this Fortunate Isle will be the location for the next Cornish Snapper story – when I have time to write it….