A Travellerspoint blog

July 2022

Back To The Past

Channel Islands - Sark & Rural Jersey

sunny 28 °C
View Channel Islands on kmmk17's travel map.


The Channel Islands are a collection of islands located off the coast of France, and made up of two distinct British Territories - the Bailiwick of Jersey, which contains Jersey and some other off shore islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which contain all the other major islands. Although they are often collectively grouped together, they haven't been united since the 13th century.

We would today aim to get to Sark, the fourth largest of the Channel Islands, and located within the Bailiwick of Guernsey, just a short ferry ride away from Jersey. However not having full confidence things would run smoothly, after yesterday's visit to the Port, we made sure we were there nice and early.

It was relatively quiet when we arrived. We headed to the check-in desk and advised that we had bought through Condor Ferries rather than direct from them. "Oh" the sole lady on the desk said. It wasn't on her system, and so she ran over to speak to someone from Condor. We then spent the next half hour bouncing back and forward between the desks, where Condor stated that they had got us on their system, and had passed this over to Manche Îles; whilst Manche Îles claimed they hadn't received the information from Condor. This wasn't an automated process, and someone somewhere hadn't processed the email with this information. Thankfully we weren't the only ones with the issue, and multiple people were put aside at check in as they also weren't on the system.

As time went on, many of the people at Condor who were helping us left as it was the end of their shift, and we got more and more anxious about whether we would actually make it to Sark. Although the tickets weren't super cheap, as we were here I didn't mind buying new tickets and trying to sort out a refund later - it would be more expensive to come back to Jersey at a later date to visit Sark then. But then, just 20 minutes before the ferry was leaving, the printer started sending out loads of tickets - the processing had finally been done. We received our tickets and were finally able to make our way into the departure lounge, where everyone else was sat waiting!

It had been a long day already and we weren't even on the ferry yet! The small foot passenger ferry would only take an hour to get to Sark, and spent half the time travelling along the beautiful south and west coasts of Jersey, past lighthouses and other defensive infrastructure.

German WWII Defensive Tower

German WWII Defensive Tower

Sark is an interesting island. It was a fiefdom until 2008, and is entirely car free. The island has relatively steep sides, and from the port there are two options to get into the town - either walk up the hill or take the tractor bus for £1.50. Along with most others, we waited for the tractor.

The Tractor

The Tractor

When arriving at the top of the hill it was instantly reminiscent of traditional villages from historical dramas. We walked down the main street past the post office, cafés and shops, enjoying the ambience.

Sark Village

Sark Village

Being a small island it was only half an hour before we arrived at the beautiful La Coupée, the isthmus linking the peninsular of Little Sark with the mainland.

La Coupée

La Coupée

The path sits above a huge ridge with stunning views over the local area, and as far as the island of Guernsey. After spending time here, we headed back towards the town, past many fields as well as the Methodist Church and Cricket pitch.

Views from La Coupée

Views from La Coupée

The weather was hotting up. Although the middle of July is always nice (part of the reason why we had come here this weekend to begin with), there was a massive heatwave coming, with Monday due to be the hottest day in UK history. Even with the sea breeze, Sark was boiling, and any time out of the shade was hard going! After a surprisingly strenuous walk back to the centre of the village, we went to one of the Cafés for a cool drink and a bit of food, before making our way back to the Port.

We took a detour, and headed via Sark Henge, a modern Henge located on the south coast, before heading down the hill to the Harbour.

Sark Henge

Sark Henge

After exploring the older, Creux Harbour, we waited for our ferry return back to Jersey.

Creux Harbour

Creux Harbour

We arrived back with beautiful views of the island, and once again wandered through the town, past the Jersey Cows monument - where they even real?

The elusive Jersey Cows

The elusive Jersey Cows

The next day was our last on Jersey. However as the flight wasn't until the evening, we had lots of time to still explore. Leaving our room and checking out of the hotel, we headed back to the bus station, bought some day tickets and then headed north. We got off the bus a few stops before the end in the middle of nowhere and walked down a track. We then arrived at the northern coastal path and made our way westwards.

Coastal Path

Coastal Path

There were some beautiful views along this rugged coast, but we didn't walk too far. It was already getting very hot, and with some very hilly sections and our luggage in tow it was already getting exhausting. At the next access point we headed back into the interior, and walked the short distance here to the Zoo.

Getting exhausted

Getting exhausted

Andrew met us inside the zoo and whilst on his break gave us a tour of the various enclosures including the Orangutans, Lemurs and Bats.

A shading Orangutan

A shading Orangutan

By now it was already mid afternoon, and so we headed on the next bus towards Mont Orgueil Castle that sits imposingly over the village of Gorey. As it was hot, we decided not to explore the castle in too much detail, and instead took a connecting bus along the beautiful south coast towards St. Helier.

Mont Orgueil

Mont Orgueil

After grabbing a bite to eat, we then jumped on our last bus this holiday, taking us back to the airport. The airport was lovely and cool compared to the warm outside air, and once through security we sat upstairs in the viewing gallery where we could watch the other planes coming in.

The flight home was again short, and as it was a glorious day there were beautiful views over the other islands, the Cotentin Peninsula and Southern England.

It had been an interesting visit to the Channel Islands - lot of unique things to see and do, and we had been fortunate with the lovely weather. A shame we didn't have more time to visit Guernsey, Alderney, or even some of the nearby French ports like St. Malo, but it was a lovely place to visit for a long weekend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 10:21 Archived in Guernsey Tagged cliffs airport zoo island castle ferry channelislands Comments (0)

A Journey to Jersey

Channel Islands - St. Helier

sunny 22 °C
View Channel Islands on kmmk17's travel map.


In this post* Covid world, travel has restarted - but it is not 2019 again. Being the first summer in three years there is pent up demand, but equally the travel sector has not recovered from the massive lay offs. Add to that the Brexit effects and the virus still lingering in the background to make people ill it's still not easy to travel.

After a lot of time spent at home, we wanted to get away somewhere but had a lot of indecision about where to go that suited us - somewhere warm but not too hot, safe and with decent flight times from Luton. Waiting for the airlines to decide which flights they weren't capable of running after the chaos at Easter and Half Term, it meant a lot of the places we had thought about still hadn't returned to the same amount of flights as in the past. With few exciting places to choose from we had to have a wide open search, and that's when we thought about Jersey.

Although still (sort of) in the UK - to get there it was easiest to fly, and being the middle of July the weather would almost certainly be good - a great place for a long weekend.

We left on Thursday lunchtime and headed up to the airport. It was a relatively quick flight across the South Coast and the English Channel before we made it to the Channel Islands. There were some beautiful views of Alderney, Sark and Guernsey before we flew right over Jersey and landed at the airport.

Alderney

Alderney

By now we could already see that surprisingly for a small island like this, it was relatively hilly. The end of the runway sat on an embankment overlooking the beach below, whilst blustering winds hit us. In anticipation of up to 30C by the end of the holiday, right now vests were a bit optimistic.

When landing we noticed a Jet2 airlines plane next to ours... were there some tropical destinations for these islanders or was this the tropical paradise? (turns out it's the latter.... bad luck!) Entering the small terminal building there was lots of bunting, celebrating the recent Platinum Jubilee.

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

Arriving at the Tropical Paradise

We then took the bus and after around half an hour we arrived at Liberation Square in the centre of town. This square commemorates the liberation of the island after its occupation during WWII - which we'd explore in more detail tomorrow. From here it was just a 10 minute walk to our hotel. After checking in we then headed over to the nearby supermarket to get bits for the stay before grabbing a quick dinner.

Liberation Square

Liberation Square

By now it was already evening and so we settled in for the night before our first full day on the other side of the Channel.

The following morning after eating some breakfast we headed out back to the bus station and boarded a bus to the War Tunnels. After around half an hour passing First Tower, one of the many defensive towers on the island, we arrived at the tunnels.

First Tunnel

First Tunnel

These tunnels were built by the Nazis beginning 1941, firstly as a barrack and ammunitions store, then later as an underground hospital.

War Tunnels

War Tunnels

It was built by slave labour and although never finished, is now open as a museum detailing the occupation period of the islands from 1940 to 1945. This was the only part of the British Isles to have been occupied during the War, and was a fascinating insight into what could have been.

Inside the Tunnels

Inside the Tunnels

After this we headed back into St. Helier. Once here we walked down to the Port. We had decided to visit Sark on the Saturday but were having issues with the ferry tickets. As there was no refund policy if we caught Covid, we didn't book the tickets until just before going. But after keeping an eye on them, when we finally came to book they suddenly all disappeared from the website - every ticket with the company to any port over the next few days was no longer available. I emailed the company to query this, but after not having heard anything in the meantime we figured it might be worth heading down to the port. I had managed to buy the tickets through Condor Ferries, who although not providing the service directly were taking orders on their behalf.

When we got to the port, it as as we feared. Few people around to speak to. No one at the ferry desk for Sark, and at Condor Ferries' desk, only confirming that our tickets were confirmed at their end, and that we should arrive early as the other company "don't know what they're doing". In the meantime we checked the websites - Jersey's Port website said the ferry was still due, and the actual ferry company had now relaunched their tickets. We'd just have to head down in good time to ensure we'd sort it in the morning.

After this, we headed back to the hotel to change. We had worn cooler clothing as the tunnels were a constant 17C. But when we got back to St. Helier it was much warmer.

We then made our way to the Jersey Museum. The museum detailed the history of the island, from it's Norman rule to the present day, and was worth seeing with lots of exhibits.

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

The closest we got to a Jersey Cow

After this we headed back across St. Helier for a walk across the now dry causeway over to Elizabeth Castle. Although we didn't go in due to the very overpriced tickets, it was still a nice place to see from the outside.

Elizabeth Castle

Elizabeth Castle

By now it was getting on for early evening and so we headed over to one of the only chain restaurants on the island - TGIs.

After a post meal crash at the hotel, we headed back out into town to meet up with one of Chris's friends - Andrew, who now works at Jersey Zoo. We had a few drinks and a catch up before finally heading back to the hotel for the final time today after a busy day exploring.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 19:06 Archived in Jersey Tagged museum island tunnel plane war ferry channelislands Comments (0)