Jersey – The Channel Island Way V

Coastal path

Less to report about our final afternoon’s walk – which is slightly odd because the north coast (where we was!)  – less populous, higher and craggier then the other coasts – is the part of the path which appeals to me most and which I would really like to go back and explore further.

It was a short walk with a modicum of up and down.

North coast

This is the closest part of the coast to the other islands…

Sark 

…particularly Sark. Which brings me to an aspect of the Channel Island Way which I haven’t touched on yet: the other islands! Whilst Alan and I only experienced a flavour of what Jersey has to offer, the Channel Island Way has sections on Guernsey, Sark, Alderney and Herm too. Usually on a long distance footpath you might expect to start at point A and progress to Z via B, C, D etc. or possibly begin at A and eventually return to A, but the CIW is a little more complex. I suppose, on the downside, that this might add to the cost somewhat and necessitate a little extra logistical effort, but I can’t help thinking that the opportunity to indulge in a little island hopping would only add to the charm of the whole enterprise.

La Tete de Plemont

 La Tete de Plemont

Fumitory 

Another plant I don’t usually see – a fumitory. I don’t know which, probably common fumitory.

Steps 

We finished our walk with a descent to a cafe (just for a tea – more grub would have to wait a while, on the subject of which, Alan has now posted a photo of his epic lunch. And if you think that’s big – you should see what he ordered for dinner. It was a burger, but of Cow Pie proportions. I kid you not, the waiter was sniggering when he brought it, and practically weeping when he had to get the block and tackle out again to get most of it back to the kitchen).

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Alan’s evening meal.

Anyway, I digress, the cafe was perched just above what I suspect would have been another fine beach, but the tide was in. The was just enough time, before the limo arrived, to pop down to the water’s edge and get splashed by the incoming waves.

Waves - La Greve au Lanchon 

They weren’t huge.

More waves 

But big enough to provide a little sport…

Aussie lifeguard surfing 

…for the local lifeguard…

More surfing action

….although I believe that Jersey’s lifeguards aren’t local at all, but are shipped in from Australia. Why? Because that’s were the the best trained lifeguards are found. Which is a neat little metaphor for what Jersey has to offer – a little bit of the best of everything!

Jersey – The Channel Island Way V

Jersey – The Channel Island Way IV

La Corbiere lighthouse

Our second day’s walking started at the south-west corner of the island overlooking ‘the iconic’ La Corbiere lighthouse. And right beside this radio tower

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…a remnant of the wartime occupation and another of the buildings available as a holiday let from Jersey Heritage. In fact, we later met a man who was staying there with his family – I gather that the view from the top – come rain, shine, fog or storm, is stunning. From this vantage there’s a good view of Guernsey, Sark and Herm, but not Alderney which is much further north.

We saw….

Wheatear 

….wheatears regularly on our walk. I associate them with hill country, but they like beaches and coastal heath too.

Hottentot fig 

Hottentot fig is a very invasive introduced species, from South Africa like the Jersey lily, which has colonised large areas of the coastal cliffs and hillsides.

Pink hottentot fig flower 

I believe that, understandably, attempts have been made to remove it.

Yellow hottentot fig 

It does look very cheery though.

At the start of our walk, we had seen the catamaran leaving St. Peter Port on Guernsey heading this way. As we descended to this stony cove….

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…we first heard (almost felt) and then saw it pass…

Jersey catamaran

We’d come this way to investigate this cave, …

Smugglers' Cave 

…which even Arthur had never explored before.

Kestrel 

 Another Kestrel.

Grayling 

Throughout our walks we saw quite a number of butterflies – the previous morning it had been mostly speckled woods. This morning I wasn’t sure what we were seeing – they would flutter past and then apparently disappear. You can perhaps see why! I think this master of disguise is a grayling. (But as ever I stand ready to be corrected.)

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A little like I had in France in the preceding weeks, I felt slightly lost looking at exotic flowers, which as far as I know don’t occur on my home stretch of the Lancashire coast, and wondering whether they were native species or garden escapees.

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I think that this might be purple viper’s-bugloss, but as you might gather, I’m not remotely confident about that.

We had climbed away from the sea a little to look at the reservoir for Jersey’s desalination plant – an old quarry full of green seawater, and also the building which had housed the winding gear for the quarry. There were many butterflies here: more graylings (I think), a gatekeeper, and this….

Wall brown - female 

..beauty, which I assumed must be a fritillary, but they don’t have eyes. it’s a female wall brown. 

Looking back to La Corbiere 

A view back along the coast – the squat ‘tower’ in the centre is the pump-house for the desalination plant.

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We saw many cormorants on both days – usually at some distance. This is not a great shot, but it gives me a chance to sneak in this description of cormorants…

…stood in groups upon the passing rocks like members of the clergy who have agreed, with bad grace, to differ.

…from Mr Pye by Mervyn Peake, which is set on Sark, the closest thing to Channel Island literature I could find on my bookshelves, and which I had reread on the flight over.

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 Path side artwork.

Blow hole 

We diverted slightly from the conventional route to take a look at this blowhole, which Arthur had heard is full of old cars – although we couldn’t get close enough to see whether that is true or not.

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More path side art.

Le Beau Port 

During our stay I didn’t swim in the sea at any point, although unbeknownst to Alan and Arthur, ever hopeful I carried Bermuda trunks and a towel in my rucksack the whole time. Isn’t that the advantage of coastal paths? Walk a bit, swim a bit? When I come back, I intend to swim at this beach, Le Beau Port – it’s the view above all others which will stick in my mind. Look at it. Don’t you want to dive in right now? (With a wintery storm raging outside I’d definitely swap here for there!)

Looking across le beau port

But for now I’ll have to make do with another view of a tres beau port. (Notice once again – almost empty!)

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A large clump of these cheery pink blooms graced the foot of a signpost nearby. It’s another plant I wasn’t familiar with. Trying to identify it, I got quite excited when I realised that Jersey has its very own pink, but the excitement was short-lived: this is not it. It was the leaves which gave the crucial clue…

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“They look a bit like wood-sorrel leaves,” I thought. So I looked up wood-sorrel, and there on the same page was pink-sorrel, another introduced species, this time from South America.

This is St. Brelade’s Church….

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…on the right, just out of shot, is…

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…which has 14th Century wall paintings which somehow survived the ravages of the reformation, and were rediscovered in 1918.

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 The chapel.

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 The annunciation.

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 King Herod.

From there it was a short stroll across St. Brelade’s beach to our lunch stop at ‘The Crab Shack’. Sadly Earl, Randy, Joy and Darnell were nowhere to be seen, but the plaice was every bit as good as I was coming to expect and Alan tucked into the biggest seafood platter I’ve ever seen.

But – that was the nature of our Jersey trip – walk a bit, eat a lot, walk a bit more, eat a lot more.

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 Black-backed gull. (Greater – perhaps)

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Herring gull.

Jersey – The Channel Island Way IV

Jersey – The Channel Island Way III

Wall lizard

Leaving the restaurant we walked past the entrance to the castle and down some steps to the end of Gorey promenade. On the wall by the steps we saw a couple of these wall lizards. Apparently the colouration can vary enormously, but the two we saw…

Smaller wall lizard

…had very similar colouring. This species is widely distributed across Europe but is introduced on Jersey, as it is in some southern parts of the British Isles.

Gorey is a very handsome place…

Flowership 

….where I suspect one could wile away a very pleasant afternoon.

Gorey harbour and promenade. 

Perhaps playing in the sand…

Sandshark 

Or maybe playing golf on the links at Jersey Royal Golf Club, although don’t hold your breath if you intend to join the waiting list for membership. The golf course is on common land, so it’s OK to walk across it apparently. If you do – look out for sea holly…

Sea Holly 

…we also saw it in the huge dune complex on the mouth of the river Canche at Le Touquet, but for some reason I didn’t photograph it there.

Sea Holly flower 

The remainder of the day’s walk was along the long curve of beach…

Looking back to Gorey and Mont Ogrueil 

..alongside La Baie du Vieux Chateau. On the landward side we passed a number of Jersey Round Towers, many of them incorporated into more recent houses, and also concrete reminders of the German occupation…

Bunker 

A week before, B had found lots of these…

Cuttlefish skeleton 

…on a beach near Boulogne. He thought that they were mermaid’s purses and was doubly disappointed when I told him that they weren’t, but that I didn’t know what they were. Thanks to Arthur, I do now. They’re cuttlebones – the internal cartilaginous skeleton of a cuttlefish. However, there are several different cuttlefish and I wouldn’t begin to know how to sort out which particular species this belongs to.

Of course this is one of the great delights of a walk on a beach – you never know just what the tide might have washed up, like a dead spider crab….

Dead Spider Crab 

…or what you might see feeding on the tide-line, like a flock of ringed plovers…

Ringed Plovers 

The end of our first day’s walking brought us to the harbour at La Rocque…

La Rocque Harbour

Where, from the end of the harbour wall…

Harbour Wall, La Rocque

…and through the magic of the little Olympus’ zoom, we had our best view of Seymour Tower…

Seymour Tower again

The tower is built on one of the largest inter-tidal reefs in the world. Depending on which website you believe it’s either one mile or two miles from the shore – with the 1:25,000 map and a ruler I arrived at 2km as the gull flies, so somewhere between the two. At low tide it’s possible to walk out and then to stay there, although you have to be accompanied by a guide and it isn’t cheap. I think that my boys would think it was a great adventure – and so would I come to that!

Jersey – The Channel Island Way III

Jersey – The Channel Island Way II

Jersey coast heron

One of the fifty things that Alan and I discussed having been so fortuitously thrown together for a few days was: who would enjoy the Channel Island Way? I think that we concluded that just about everybody would, but bird-watchers for one would be kept happy – particularly during spring and autumn when migrating birds use the Channel Isles as a stopping off point.

Egret and reflection 

Anyone keen on beautiful coastlines or quiet beaches would be happy too. Our experience would suggest that if you wanted a coastal path without too much of the up and down which that can entail then the CIW is for you.

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Walkers with an interest in history would be well served – at times it seemed that there was a historic building or site every few yards, although having a guide on hand definitely helped us to make the most of that fact. This is Archirondel Tower:

Archirondel tower, breakwaters and coast

You can see the breakwater at St. Catherine’s in the background on the right, and the begins of a second breakwater, which would have completed a huge harbour, extending beyond the tower.

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Here’s another virtually empty beach:

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It’s midday on a gloriously sunny August day: where is everyone? When we put this question to some locals later they answered dismissively: “On the east coast? Locals beaches those, they’re always quiet.” As if the crowds were elsewhere, but none of the beaches we saw was busy.

A rose between two thorns.

Arthur, Sarah, Alan.

The way itself isn’t busy either – the paths are well maintained but we didn’t meet hordes of walkers. Sarah was the only person we met walking the route – which was her birthday present to herself. Alan had noticed that Sarah had the guidebook, which Arthur duly signed for her.

Shortly after this point we left the road to climb a small hill to…

Victoria Tower

…Victoria Tower, a Martello tower built in 1837, and named after the new queen….

More lazy blogging

From this vantage point, perhaps the most dramatic of Jersey’s many defensive towers came into view.

Seymour Tower

Seymour Tower. You can see it again here (just about) – it’s the small dot on the left beyond the end of the long sweep of bay beyond Gorey which would be our walk for the afternoon. (More about Seymour Tower in a post to follow.)

Gorey harbour, La Baie du Vieux Chateau and Seymour Tower

For a while we watched the first of several kestrels we would admire as they hunted the hillsides and cliffs facing the sea…

Gorey Kestrel

…and then descended towards Gorey with magnificent views…

Le Mont Orgueil

..of Mont Orgueil Castle towering over Gorey and its harbour…

Gorey

So…if you like history, natural history, great views, quiet beaches, castles and fortifications – then the CIW is for you. Anything else….?

I'm not on commission honest.

Oh yes – the grub. For the epicurean walker Jersey might be the ideal location. Our lunch, taken on a terrace with a great view, was superb.

Alan photographed the puddings, whilst I…

Beer!

…took a picture of my lager – I’m not sure what that says about our respective mentalities!

But in fact the real star of the show was the main course of bass with fennel, chorizo, green beans and Jersey royals. Yum.

I’ve made it to lunch on the first day. Hurrah! More to follow.

Jersey – The Channel Island Way II

Jersey – The Channel Island Way I

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I’d arrived in Jersey mid-afternoon the day before to louring skies, having departed from a very sunny Manchester just over an hour before. (Sunny Manchester, cloudy Jersey – surely some mistake?) I’d had a bit of a look around St. Helier, been treated to a sumptuous evening meal at our hotel and had met, and been royally entertained by two masters of the anecdote, blue badge guide Arthur Lamy and fellow blogger Alan Sloman. All we needed now was a change in the weather so that we could see the coastal path at it’s best and have the light for some decent photos. And fortunately that’s exactly what happened.

Our first walk quickly brought us to a headland from where we could see beautiful coastline, azure seas, the French coast and oodles of history…

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The boulders in the foreground are Le Dolmen du Couperon. A late Neolithic gallery grave built around 5000 years ago….

I could go on, but:

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If you want to read the small print, click on the photo to see a larger version on flickr. (The same applies to all of the pictures in recent posts – technical wizardry which I picked up after a not very technical ‘technical discussion’ with my friend the Shandy Sherpa.)

The building behind is a Victorian public convenience, or in the local patios – Jèrriais – known as a kharzi….

Alternatively…

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The bit about Jèrriais is true though – it is a Jersey patois, although apparently not many people speak it today.

There didn’t seem to be much, well anything really, that Arthur didn’t know about Jersey, but if you were walking the route without a guide, the historic sites are well supplied with information boards and it’s all in Arthur’s excellent guidebook too. You wouldn’t get the more recent gossip however, or be introduced to Arthur’s friends and relations who seemed to be everywhere (Jersey is a small place after all), but were particularly thick on the ground here in the parish of St. Martin, Arthur’s home patch.

It was apparent why this headland would be chosen to site a battery since it has commanding views of the Normandy coast, just 14 miles away, and the reefs and low islands in the intervening straits.

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Which of course, for the walker, makes it an ideal place to pause for a gander.

On the next section of the walk, on minor roads, the verges were decorated with these….

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..cyclamen. I was confused at first by the lack of leaves and because I thought that cyclamen were spring flowering, but apparently cyclamen are hysteranthous, which means that the leaves appear after the flowers, and different species of cyclamen can be found flowering all through the year. Cyclamen are not native to Britain, or to the Channel Isles, but they have naturalised and are clearly thriving here. The English name, which I didn’t know, is sowbread, because pigs like to eat the tubers.

Many of the fields we walked past had produced their crop of Jersey Royals earlier in the year and were now planted with barley, but full of wildflowers too.

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As Alan pointed out, there was a distinctive earthy tang in the air which instantly brought to mind fresh new season potatoes – maybe it’s something in the sandy Jersey soil.

At…

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…we passed the first of numerous round towers we would see during our stay.

Fliquet Tower

The white paint is there to provide a landmark for seafarers.

Fliquet Bay

Looking back to Fliquet.

Over coffees and tea at the cafe at St. Catherine’s, Arthur told us the history of the breakwater here – part of an abortive attempt to build a huge harbour here, ostensibly for the fishing fleet, but actually intended for the British Navy to deter French aggression. Topically, Alan recalled working on the construction of a similarly over-large ‘fishing’ harbour in Libya.

Our route then shadowed the coast on the sea wall…

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The house on the right was a hospital built to treat the many men, and their families, who worked on the breakwater. I think. Like the rest my attempts to recall Jersey history – if it’s accurate then the credit is entirely Arthur’s, and if it’s not then the fault lies solely with my dodgy memory. In my defence – there was an awful lot of history to soak up!

I’m going to stop here, despite the fact that I haven’t even managed to get Alan and myself to our (delectable) lunch on our first day’s walking. More to follow….

Jersey – The Channel Island Way I