Guernsey – final day 30/08/20

With only a morning left, I had my last opportunity to visit any local attractions, and as Little Chapel was less than two miles from my hotel at La Villette, this seemed the perfect choice for my final walk.

The interior of the island is much quieter than the main thoroughfares and Guernsey has many publicised ‘Routes Tranquilles‘, the equivalent of our Green Roads. I was able to make use of many of these, which I imagine were farm roads in years gone by.

You will recall that the island claims to have no hills. Of course, it is not entirely flat, and inland it has a regular pattern of small hills cut through by attractive streamlets. I walked 7 miles inland this morning, and even then I managed to climb over 809 ft, so you can see this is a surprisingly undulating island. The highest point on Guernsey appears to be Hautnez at 111 metres, which is near the airport. Many of the cliffs are of similar height.

But today was pure countryside and brown and white Guernsey cows, and tiny villages with magnificent buildings.

The Little Chapel is very beautiful. I was expecting just one area for worship but there were a number of small chapels, all equally beautifully adorned. Creating it must have been a real labour of love and I could imagine using it for personal worship. Somehow it doesn’t feel as if it ought to be a tourist attraction.

Having visited the chapel I went to the village of Les Vauxbelets and followed the route tranquille up to the Candie Road. I turned left as I had spied a walking path through woodland that interested me at Les Fauxquets. This was a pleasant walk, though the end of the path was unfortunately very muddy, making a mess of my new shoes.

I followed the Route des Talbots with the Talbot Valley on the right. It is very picturesque with some beautiful houses. I then took side routes, that lead to St Andrew church. From this point I followed more routes that were ‘tranquilles’ but unremarkable and I was soon back at Mouilpied, the small village close to La Villette. I was back in time for a lunchtime pint in the bar, and later on a cream tea to keep me going until I arrive back on the Isle of Man.


So what have I gleaned of Guernsey these last few days?

1) it has far too many people and cars

2) the coastline to the south and south east is magnificent walking country.

3) their number plates contain only numbers, usually 5 digits but I saw one today with only 4

4) they have a good bus service, but narrow lanes therefore all journeys are slow, and if you happen to be behind pedestrians or cyclists, very slow

5) they build very large walls around their properties in the main town

6) books are cheap. My copy of Les Contemplations cost £3.71.

7) the footpaths are good but many do not contain waymarker signs. The scaled map is very good.

8) their post boxes are blue and set into walls.

9) many of the villages have their own ‘abreveur’, pumps which provided water for the local villagers

10) although the village names and places look and sound as if they are french, the pronunciation is different, more anglicised

11) it has a lot of cows

12) it is inundated with reminders of its war time histories

13) I didn’t pass a single shop on any of my walks, except beach cafes and, naturally, in the metropolis that is St Peter Port

14) if walking the coastline, be prepared for hundreds of steps! Continue reading “Guernsey – final day 30/08/20”

Guernsey Day 4 – coastal walk 29/08/20

This was my last full day of walking, so I started out early from the hotel finding a new route down to Petit Bot Bay.

Others had already arrived by the time I got there, mostly children and their parents who I think were about to go kayaking. There was already one group in the water. There is a cafe here, but as it was not yet 10am it had not opened.

The climb onto the cliffs is fairly strenuous, with something like 160 steps. I tasked myself with counting them today. Over the full day, I think I climbed 800 steps as well as encountering the standard undulations. It is worth the climb as the views are terrific and you get a sense of accomplishment too.

The coast path goes inland to cross streams in a few places and the paths weren’t always easy to find. To make matters worse ( or better), the Guernsey National Trust has purchased various areas around the cliff path and there are numerous routes within these areas, should you decide to veer off the regular track to explore. On one such occasion around Les Corbieres I did not quite end up back on the right path and found myself on a path slightly more inland than intended. Not that it mattered. This was a fairly long walk anyway of between 9 and 10 miles and I was more interested in reaching my destination than being pedantic about which path I took. However, because of this detour I did not visit the German Observation Tower at the top of this post, though I saw it for many miles thereafter.

There are only two places on this section of the coast path where you can get drinks so make sure you take plenty with you in case they aren’t open. It hasn’t been very warm for late summer but even so my stocks of water were getting low towards the end and I was concerned about getting dehydrated. There is a cafe and a bus terminus at the end of this walk, so it is easy to replenish your stocks and get back to your starting point, although buses are only once a hour. I had thought of going to see Little Chapel as I had finished by 2pm, but there were no buses going to that area at all on a Saturday.

The paths look very similar to the walk I did the other day, so instead of describing the route, I will leave you with a gallery of photos of the walk. I must say, I think this south western point is prettier and quieter than the eastern side around St Peter Port, and the houses I saw were much less showy.

Tomorrow, I shall walk to Little Chapel and return to my hotel for afternoon tea before my mid afternoon pickup for the airport.

Overall distance: 9.17 miles; total ascent 1414 ft; total descent 1762 ft

Guernsey Day 3 – St Peter Port, 28/08/20

Overnight the rain had been teeming down, waking me up several times. I decided a day doing touristy things might be the best solution and involve at least some indoor activities.

No sooner had I reached the bus stop and the rain pelted down. I was glad to embark the no 81 bus even if it meant an ultra tedious 4 mile 40 min journey to St Peter Port. It makes Traa Di Liooar seem almost instant in comparison. It isn’t even an interesting route – it goes down little residential lanes that go nowhere in particular and the inevitable visit to the local hospital en route.

When I finally reached St Peter Port, I had already decided to go to the Candie Gardens, which were reportedly very pleasant. Should it rain, it handily also contains the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery. I followed the quaint Main Street, though I must admit I was disappointed not to see more local shops. There were all the usual department stores such as Boots, M&S, WH Smith but very little else it seemed on first acquaintance. Thankfully, there was a charity shop so I bought an umbrella and gave Cancer Research £3.50.

It says in my guide book there are ‘no hills’ on Guernsey. Would someone please tell me what I have just climbed then a couple of times today at 300 ft each! What strikes you most about St Peter Port is the amount of huge stone walls and the many steps up these non-existent hills. It looks like a grand fortress or a town that has barricaded itself in against the enemy. In fact, this is true of previous centuries; even if it hasn’t been invaded for a long time, it still bears witness to its past.

Candie Gardens were quite pretty but nothing out of the ordinary. The museum and art gallery is good, though it hasn’t quite decided what it wants to be. There are quite a few exhibitions concerning the war, which is clearly important to the island and interesting for many people. There were three different sets of art exhibitions. One by an artist with big colourful designs; another of incredible photographs of sea animals in microscopic detail; and yet another of more traditional paintings and a sculpture ( for want of a better word) of butterflies by Damian Hirst – the central photo below. This was staggeringly good and intricate and it was hard to take ones eyes off it. You want to expand that photo to enjoy its intricacies. I wonder how long it took him to complete it?

‘Brush Marks Heaven and Earth’ by Jonathan Skelton
Resurrection by Damien Hirst (2016)

The shop did contain items for sale created by locals and the glass ornaments were beautiful, and I could not resist buying something for my grand-daughter whose birthday is next week which will make her smile 🙂

It had already been pretending to rain while I was in the gardens and when I came out of the museum, it started up again in full fury. Undaunted, I continued with my plan to visit the Chateau des Marais, which looked on the map to be a modestly sized ancient mound. Of course, it was too wet to consult the map so I had to use my mind map to get me there, which did a fairly good job.

This was much more impressive than I was expecting, given that it was tucked away behind and between housing estates, on what had previously been sea-fed marshland, all now clearly drained centuries past. It was a huge area, with an outer moat and stone wall, a large grassy area, then another moat and stone wall leading to the inner sanctum. Look at the height of those ramparts over the moat! I shouldn’t beef this up too much as there are no other ancient remains. However, in its heyday it would have been a beacon standing out in its marshy hallows and it would have been very effective as a defence. The passage of time has taken its toll.

The notice-board did inform me that there had been a castle or defensive fort on this parcel of land for at least 800 years. The outer wall and moat had been built during the Napoleonic wars, when they feared invasion. Even in WWII they built a concrete command bunker on the main footprint of the original castle, which can clearly be seen.

The grassland, not visible in the photos above, or the old ‘Bailey’ is full of flowers and is almost like a nature reserve, and butterflies and dragonflies were plentiful. It is little oasis away from the hustle, bustle and noise of the town, especially the cars. The sun came out and so did the locals with their lunch packs.

From here, I walked down to the sea front and sat on the sea wall admiring the view and getting a wet bottom from stupidly sitting in a puddle. I had to walk for a good mile along the prom knowing that all the cars passing by me would be aware of my predicament, but finally I dried off. This could almost be Castletown Bay couldn’t it? It is called Belle Greve Bay, meaning ‘beautiful shore’.

I had rung Hauteville House and was fortunate to be able to be included in the 4pm tour of Victor Hugo’s house in exile. I had a bit of time to kill, so I found the location and walked to the top of the hill, where there was a bench with fine views across the bay to Helm and Sark, and wrote my postcards.

Hauteville House is not to be missed. You cannot just turn up, you have to book and they are almost at the end of the season now. It is a masterpiece of ingenuity. What a character Hugo must have been, a philanthropist, an artist, a collector, a recycler, a philosopher, never mind his literary credits. I am not so sure he was as successful in his relationships – probably too independent-minded for that. It is an inspiring and intriguing house, never settling for the mundane. He was already wealthy before his exile and he clearly had one of those minds that doesn’t switch off, always looking for the next project. I bought a copy of ‘Les Contemplations’ and have already started re-reading some of his evocative poems (in French) – it’s always best to read poetry in its native tongue if you can.

I didn’t take any photos other than the views from his balcony and his garden, but you access photos and more history at

And there my day ended as it had begun with the 40 min bus ride to the hotel, but this time the rain had ceased and it was a very pleasant evening.

Considering this wasn’t a walking day, I still walked nearly 10 miles. Tomorrow I am walking more of the coastline westwards from the hotel, which I am really looking forward to.

Guernsey Day 2 – La Villette to St. Peter’s Port 27/08/20

I had been warned by the taxi driver that this is quite a strenuous walk with a lot of steps, so I knew what to expect.

I set out early in the morning and was on the cliffs shortly after 9am. I decided to miss out Icart point and start with a gentle route down to Saints Bay, following another gladed valley. I soon hit the coast path contouring around several small bays, including Bon Port to Jerbourg Point.

At Moulin Huet car park, be careful to follow the map and descend along the road. The path then takes you through some light woodland before you ascend once again on the open coast path. There are one or two ins and outs on this stretch giving some variety to the walk, but whenever you turn a corner, the views are splendid. Renoir created some of his masterpieces here and there are several information boards showing you the view he was capturing. Below is one such scene.

There are two viewpoints mentioned on the map on the Jerbourg peninsula and it is worth taking your time here. The close up view of Les Tas de Pois d’Amont (translates as Pea Stacks) which have been visible all the way around this large cove is magnificent. The path continues around the point to join a lane which leads to the Jerbourg hotel. If you have had enough of steps by this point you can while away your time in the hotel having a cream tea, and then catch the bus (no 81) which will take your on a tour of the island back to St Peters Port.

I do not say this lightly, as the next section begins with a lot of descent and more steps, in the sure knowledge that you will have to ascend the same amount before long. This is a kinder path and slightly more undulating than straight up and down and you get the first views of Helm and Sark and the Castle at St Peters Port.

I had set off in fine sunshine, and pleasantly warm. I was also aware of dark clouds looming over the land and I was forlornly hoping that I might escape rain. This was not to be, but thankfully there was some tree cover and I waited patiently for a gap to appear in the lashing rain before I continued. Patience was clearly not a virtue and was going to make no difference, so I set off again for Fermain Bay, where I could see a cafe beside the beach. It was just about noon and I had walked 6 miles. I enjoyed some warming cups of coffee, had a chat with a local who had been swimming and I think wished he hadn’t bothered and ate my packed lunch. The tide was almost in but it looks to be a lovely beach and on a nice day I bet the locals come down here.

There was a brief respite so I set off again, yes, you can guess it, uphill again through woodland at Ozanne Steps and past some houses that had the most scenic and uninterrupted views of the sea. Leaving that path, it takes you to the Clarence Battery at Les Terres Point, an outpost that has guarded St Peters Port for centuries. From there it was a steady descent along La Vallette into St Peters Port.

I didn’t spend much time here today. I wanted to get back to the hotel, dry off and catch up on some sleep! So I boarded the bus, which showed me the delights of the area and dropped me off outside my hotel – very convenient.

I don’t know how many steps there were altogether, but it must be hundreds as there were usually about 30-40 minimum on each ascent. The total distance was 8 miles, descent 1726ft and ascent 1427ft. This walk started with descent, and it is this combination that makes it a little tiring. But it is so rewarding, and if you have a fine day, I would recommend it.

The weather forecast for tomorrow is not great, so I am thinking of doing a hop on hop off bus tour to the other side of the island and maybe do a bit of shopping.

Continue reading “Guernsey Day 2 – La Villette to St. Peter’s Port 27/08/20”

Air-Bridge Guernsey – Arrival Day 26/08/20

What an eye-opener! From the sky Guernsey looked to be a highly populated possibly overcrowded little island. In the taxi, I was struck by the amount of traffic, but once I got to my hotel south of St Peter Port at La Villette, I discovered a different world, of long lost lanes, attractive stone cottages, cows(!) and a most magnificent coastline only a mile away.

From what I have seen in the few hours I have been here, this is an island that cares for itself and looks after itself. The houses in the villages are well maintained and look as if they follow tradition. There is evidence of many former farms dotted around and even the new houses are made to blend in with the natural stone of their predecessors.

Typical former farmhouse on Guernsey

When I arrived it took me a while to get my bearings as I thought the airport was near the main town, when in fact it was in completely the opposite direction. This being so, my first amble took me in a different direction from that where I wanted to go 🙂 Thankfully, my trusty Garmin watch knew where I was going, so I soon discovered my error. It would have been useful to find out where I was staying before I went on holiday, as I was guessing from the word ‘go’, and usually I am better prepared. On this occasion, I hadn’t given my short break a moment’s thought beforehand.

So here I was, an hour and half after arrival and three hours left before the restaurant closed. Time to explore. This time I went in the right direction and after a mile I was on the cliffs admiring the sea and shoreline. I couldn’t stop there, so after a cursory look at the map I decided to head westwards or if looking at the sea – to the right! The cliffs were so inviting – so inviting I would break into a hop and a skip or even a little jog every now and again. The sunlight was glinting behind the cliffs in front of me me and I made a mental note that this walk would be best undertaken left to right in the morning another time.

There are a number of ups and downs on this stretch of path but nothing too demanding. The paths are very well maintained and look natural (note IOM govt), and there are many sections with stone and sandy steps which are easy to traverse. The path reminded me very much of sections of the South West Coast Path which I did with my third son, Matthew, when he was a teenager.

The cliffs are interspersed with shady glens leading down to the little beaches. I am looking forward to exploring more over the next few days, but I know it will be over too soon.

I am trying to extend my holiday to 5 days. The hotel has room for me but the flights are fully booked, so I must make the most of my four days here.

Total distance: approx 3.5 miles, 489 ft of descent, 500ft of ascent.