Thursday, October 18, 2007

Great Brewster Island

I was out on Great Brewster Island last Sunday on a fantastic fall day. Maybe the weather had something to do with it, but I think Great Brewster may have been my favorite of the Boston Harbor Islands I visited this year. The views are absolutely amazing, and you can get some stunning pictures.

On one side of the island, facing southeast, is Boston Light on Little Brewster Island. You can get some great pictures of the lighthouse framed by the foliage on the island or the lighthouse rising behind the tall grasses blowing in the wind. Turn around, and the entire Boston skyline unfolds before you, from the Prudential Center on the left all the way to the landmark egg-shaped digesters on Deer Island on the right. It's a scene that really encapsulates what the islands are all about: teetering on the edge between the open waters to the east and the bustling city to the west.

Another great feature of Great Brewster is the very high bluff on the north side that rises to nearly 100 feet. It's a nice hike up and you can get some decent views from the top. The bluff is eroding away, and when you look at it from sea level, it looks like a giant claw carved into the hill and took out a giant chunk. You can get some neat lighting and shadows earlier and later in the day.

The seawall built along the island's shores has broken apart in spots, but it's still possible to walk along its top in some spots. Just be careful. The areas where the seawall have crumbled have some interesting tidal pools. The military used the island in World War II and you can still wander into one of the dark bombproof bunkers, but bring a flashlight if you want to see anything. (Then again, there's not much to see besides the concrete walls.)

Just as Peddocks Island has today, Great Brewster used to have some residents, but they were forced to leave when the military took over the island.

Unfortunately, it's not easy to get onto Great Brewster Island. The pier is gone, so you need to do a beach landing. I was fortunate enough to join a tour organized by the Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands, and the boat was able to get right up to the beach. There will be more info in next spring's book Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands.

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