Hangmans Rock

Updated: Mar 1, 2020

The granite pebbled beach at Kitchen par, shaped in a small horse shoe curve, creates the perfect little cove for sitting and pondering, reading, painting and of course swimming. With your back sheltered by a bank of agapanthus, mallow and sea spinach you can find a sunny rock to perch upon and admire the imposing stone structures before you.

A little pre swim creativity

On the coast of Tresco, Cromwell’s castle, now set against a backdrop of mauve heather, but more impressive is Hangmans Rock. Called this in the civil war period when Scilly was a Royalist stronghold. The gibbit and noose that hangs at the summit now are a modern addition, however in Cromwell’s day the most ardent of Royalists were strung up on the rock as a warning to others by Admiral Blake.

Looking past the north ends of Tresco and Bryher is the inky horizon of the Atlantic. Even from here on a calm day the vast ocean has a feeling of wilderness and the power of a beast that sleeps.

I set out towards Hangmans, spotting a compass and blue jellyfish and many shoals of fish in varying sizes, swimming past strands of ropelike Mermaids Tresses.

The soaring columns of granite are layered with Black Tar lichen, the yellow ochre of Trentopohlia and further up from the tide line the Sea Ivory. These colours on the rocks are so typically Scilly, and very beautiful. I clamber up onto the rough granite rocks that mark the edge of Hangmans, I’d like to climb to the top and see the view but Sam and friend are rowing the punt alongside, so I wash back into the sea.

At the North end the water is oily black, swirling and ominous. The rock looks even bigger from our seals eye view, covered with the weather beaten lichen and threatening, but also rugged and wild and beautiful.

The current carries us on a free ride along the far side and from here we can look up the channel towards St Mary’s, past all the fishing boats and yaghts. We see Firethorn and a jet boat and the houses and pub of the North end from a completely new perspective.

A young shag, with his pale buff underbelly exposed, long neck extended and hooked beak skyward stands wings outstretched drying in the breeze. We get to with eight feet before he takes flight, paddling along the surface before lifting off.

Back through the forests of yellow Thong weed that softly caresses my limbs and onto the shore. A wonderful, wonderful experience.

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