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Apr 30th, 2014, 02:25 PM
  #1
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Channel Island Hoping

Arrived in Guernsey via Gatwick from North America. I had allowed 2 hours at Gatwick to clear customs and make connection. As it turns out this was not enough and after 45 min in the custom line I had to request an exemption to the front, much to the disgust of fellow travelers. I arrived in Guernsey at 1 pm. I purchased a 2 day unlimited bus pass which turned out to be very useful. Good for 48 hours from the time of first ride and allowed me a lot of flexibility over the next few days. I arrived at my accommodations in St Peter Port at 2:30 pm. I had chosen to stay at the Forester Arms. The room is very clean and well set up with room to move around and a view of the harbour. It is not fancy but has all the amenities I needed, including a great shower, and is very reasonably priced. It was nice to have a pub downstairs for a relaxing night cap before tucking in. It is a quiet pub so noise was not an issue.

Guernsey - Day 1

Walked along the road up to Sausmarez Manor. This is one of the well publicized attractions in St Peter Port. They have mini put, train rides, tea room, souvenir shop and a garden. I was only interested in the garden but if I had been traveling with my family it would have been nice to have these other things to entertain them while I was in the garden. I found this to be a very unique and interesting garden and I wandered happily and took photos for 90 minutes. There are 40 different kinds of bamboo thriving in this small area, there is also a stream and large pond with ducks. When the breeze blows through the bamboos are better than any wind chime. Added to this the whole garden acts as a sculpture garden. There are over 300 first quality sculptures on display. A real artistic eye has been used to place these sculptures and as you spot them in each nook and cranny them seem to really belong. What else you see will depend on the time of year you visit but I saw camellias (they have 300), blue bells, campanula and spring bulbs...plus ducklings!

From Sausmarez Manor I made my way out to coast and walked the coast trail home. This allowed me to wander through miles of blue bell carpeted woods, see great views of the coast and visit the famous Blue Bell Wood. This walk felt great after all night on the plane and I was well ready for dinner. Ate at Le Petit Bistro. This is one of Guernsey’s top rated restaurants. The food was excellent and the wine list is extensive. Of course there is a price tag that goes along with this.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 02:28 PM
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Guernsey - Day 2

Hoped a bus in the morning to the other side of the island. The goal was Lihou Island. This small spit of land is only accessible 2 hours a day when the tide is at it’s lowest. I had familiarized myself with the tide charts and based the rest of my day around this visit. The island is a beautiful micro environment for seabirds and plants. I enjoyed the walk out, great views of the coast south and east and hardly any people. Walking back onto the mainland I visited a nearby passage tomb. Definitely not worth a special trip but worth seeing if you are in the neighborhood.

Walked east along the shore to get to St Apolline’s Chapel. This interesting church dates from 1392 and has an interesting medieval wall painting of the last supper. From here I had a 2.5 km hike along country lanes to Mille Fleurs. This very well known private garden allows visit by pre-arranged appointment. This is a truely outstanding garden. Covering 2.5 acres it is divided into theme areas from English country garden to sub-tropical Mediterranean. In a far corner, by a waterfall, I pulled out my thermos and enjoyed a tea break. The garden is a feast of mature trees, unusual perennials and mass plantings. There are lots of interconnecting paths so you can wander aimlessly, which I did.

Leaving here I walked back toward St Peter Port stopping at Bruce Russell and Son to admire their beautiful jewelry offerings. They share a building with the Mint Brasserie and Tea Room. This restaurant is a good enough reason to come all the way from “town”. I had a “ham sandwich” which turned out to be a beautifully presented sandwich of shaved carrot, cucumber and huge chunks of excellent meat. I ended up sitting for an hour out on their deck in the sun, listening to the nearby water garden and enjoying a lovely glass of wine with lunch. Hard to get motivated for the last walk of the day. A little over a mile down the road is the Little Chapel. This is a must see if you come to Guernsey. This is basically an amazing piece of folk art which arose out of one man’s vision and dedication to his faith. It is beautiful in a unique way and reflects the dedication of a whole community to keep it going. The bus stops right outside the door so hoped on and got a lift back to town.

Dinner this night at the Boathouse. Another well know Guernsey establishment. The food was excellent, the wines were good but not as good as Le Petit Bistro.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 02:29 PM
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Guernsey - Day 3

First day of slightly inclement weather. I walked north out of town to the Guernsey Freesia Center - definitely not worth the stop. I continued north to the coast and walked the coastal path west. The tide was out so I was able to walk down across the center of Le Grand Havre bay. It was fun walking amongst the beached fishing boats. A storm could be seen rolling in and everyone could be seen to be picking up their pace. I was walking west when it hit. Driving rain which sent people scurrying to their cars. I headed instead for Rousse tower which sits on a point of land in this area. It was a part of the WW II German defenses and is completely restored. I spent an interesting hour in there, with statues of German soldiers for company. I drank my tea and read my book and listened to the storm rage. When the rain was done I walked back down to the main road and caught the bus for home.

I used this final afternoon to visit some of the St Peter Port sites including Candie Garden and Victor Hugo’s house and garden. Unfortunately the Guernsey tapestry was closed due to a private function so I missed my chance for that. In the late afternoon I had an appointment to visit a private garden that was a real gift. I am so glad the owner was willing to let me see it although I was missing the regular open garden day. An extremely well laid out garden of well maintained perennial beds. The beds have been designed with a real eye for mixing colour and texture to create little vignettes within the greater whole. It is spectacular now with many of the flowering shrubs in full splendor, I would love to see it when the roses are in bloom.

I had dinner tonight at the Swan which is recommended for their simple fare. I can’t say I was that impressed. The staff was over extended, they got my order wrong and what I did eat was not impressive, I would give this place a skip.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 02:32 PM
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Day 4 Herm

One of the smaller Channel Islands it is still a gem. I caught the early ferry, times vary due to tide but this day it was 8:30. They offer a discounted fare for the early trip and you have the added bonus of less people, win win. I turned right from the Rosario Steps, the low tide landing and walked counter clockwise around the Island. The first half is steep and rocky and offers outstanding coastal views. The second half of the island is lowland. At Shell Beach I crossed down onto the waterline. By good luck, not planning, the tide was low and I was able to walk the rest of the way on the beach. Definitely the best views of sand dunes are from down there. I got to the dock on time for 12:30 return trip. 3.5 hours was just enough time to wander around the whole island, allowing for stopping for lots of photos. Chased down some pheasants, a falcon and got some great coastal shots. I could have stayed and shopped and had tea but I wanted to return to Guernsey for a floral event before catching my afternoon boat to Sark.

My visit to Guernsey happened to coincide with an event called Floral Guernsey and there was an open garden that afternoon. It was a very nice rural garden and chatted with some more locals before heading for my ferry. 1 hour trip to Sark and arrival at La Moineire. Due to fatigue had dinner in their restaurant. Food was meticulously prepared and served. I was really too tired to appreciate it.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 06:02 PM
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Thanks so much for sharing your trip! I am so interested in this trip!
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Apr 30th, 2014, 11:02 PM
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Day 5 Sark

I cannot avoid a little politics here. If you are going to Sark you need to realize you are entering an area of warring factions. The Barclay Brothers, who own neighboring Brecqhou Island and about 1/3 of Sark do not necessarily get along with their close neighbors on Sark. I am not taking sides but if you are going to Sark and want to make sure you are aware of all accommodation and sight seeing options make sure you have seen both the Island tourism website, http://www.sark.co.uk, and the www.sarkislandhotels.com. Also when you arrive on the island the first “tourist” information booth you hit will be from BB just up the hill 300m is the “Official Tourism Office”. Each person can make there own decisions but don’t let this keep you away from the Island. It is a true Jewel and I wish I had 4 days there instead of 2.

In the morning I went coasteering with Adventure Sark. This company is extremely well managed, well equipped and very knowledgable. They offer kayaking and coasteering but it was the rock jumping I was interested in. You can see photos on their webpage. It is every bit as exciting as it looks and I would not have missed it for the world. Seeing the islands coves from water level and wandering up into a cave at low tide was amazing. After a quick brew at the Belair to celebrate surviving I went walk about.

In spring the hike down to Dixart Bay is worth every step. Forest floor carpeted with bluebells and you can take the highroad out for great coastal views. Once you hike along the paths and road to La Coupee, the road to little Sark, you will see a set of steps leading down to La Grande Greve. There are 300 of these steps and they come with dire safety warnings but if you get to this beach when the tide is low it is outstanding, rock pools and sand and granite formations...a beach hound paradise.

Final stop for the day was La Seigneurie Gardens. This is a beautiful garden. It is laid out and planned to the details. There are rooms within rooms and gardening themes to be appreciated by the experts and just a feast of colour if that is all you want. Not to be missed.
I had dinner this night at the Time and Tide on the Avenue downtown. I cannot recommend it and would try someplace else.

At 7:30 pm I headed out the walk to Port a la Jument to watch the sunset. This was mentioned to me by a couple of locals as a great place to watch the sunset. It was confirmed when I met a trio of tripod toting photogs on their way to the same location to take photos. I felt a little out of place as I didn’t have a tripod, just a good bottle of wine and a glass, but I suspect I enjoyed the show more.
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Apr 30th, 2014, 11:33 PM
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Day 6 Brecqhou

By stint of having stayed 2 nights in a Barclay Bros hotel I had earned a trip to see their island. I don’t know about the big picture but for me this was a day well spent. The private boat took us on different routes coming and going so we circumnavigated Sark. The Island is over developed in many ways and underdeveloped in others. Our guide, Aiden, was charming and knowledgeable and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit. Don’t go for the gardens, there are no formal gardens per se. This is just landscaping on a grander scale with lots of food production thrown in. It was interesting to see how the other half lives. After returning to Sark harbour I had time for another 2 hour hike to Gouliot Headland before catching the ferry to Guernsey. Flight to Jersey.

I checked into La Haule Manor in St Brelade and immediately knew I had made a good decision here. It is the nicest accommodation of the stay. Warm friendly atmosphere, beautifully appointed rooms in a great location. On the recommendation of staff I had dinner at Mash in St Aubin, 5 min walk, and it was an amazing meal. Loads of veggies, which I have been craving, and perfectly cooked meat.
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May 1st, 2014, 12:28 AM
  #8
 
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Thanks a lot for posting Kinloch. Read your trip report with great interest. Have only visited Guernsey for a couple of hours for a meeting, your report makes me think that if there is a next time I should stay and explore.

jane
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May 1st, 2014, 12:55 AM
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Thanks for the report, very good. I do take sides, the Brothers sit in their island fast stroking their white cat, plotting, not paying tax and running the Telegraph.
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May 1st, 2014, 01:16 AM
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Here's "hopping" you enjoyed your trip! ;-)
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May 1st, 2014, 04:42 AM
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Thanks for being the first I know of to describe a visit to Sark. The Seigneur is a relative of a friend and I have been interested in Sark for 50 years
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May 1st, 2014, 06:30 AM
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>>I had dinner this night at the Time and Tide on the Avenue downtown.<<

Forgive me smiling at the idea of Sark having a "downtown" .
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May 1st, 2014, 06:55 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
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Thanks for sharing your adventure. Will you be posting any pictures?
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May 1st, 2014, 01:41 PM
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I have thought of that, i know my family would like to be able to see them also but I don't know the technology for posting them so that they are not downloadable. k
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May 1st, 2014, 01:43 PM
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I am very sorry to hear you have a personal connection to the Seigneur. I understand he is quite a nice person and that the BB have made is life quite miserable. You would never know the turmoil going on, the gardens are breath taking.
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May 3rd, 2014, 07:17 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: May 2009
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Guernsey is on my travel bucket list and now I can expand on it with trips to these other islands. Very insightful, Kinloch -- thanks so much for posting!
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May 3rd, 2014, 08:35 AM
  #17
 
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Thank you, Kinloch, for the trip report. The more I hear of the islands, the more I yearn to visit.
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May 3rd, 2014, 09:24 AM
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It used to be that all the males on Sark came to our village in Hampshire to pack Christmas trees each winter when the fishing was too dangerous. I think it still happens
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May 3rd, 2014, 09:25 AM
  #19
 
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I went over the BB's home island years ago before they bought it (friend of a girl friend), it was pretty barren with a very posh house and that was about it. Now I think a swimming pool rolls back so the missles can come out.
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May 3rd, 2014, 11:27 AM
  #20
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Day 7 Jersey

This is a bit of a whirlwind trip around Jersey. I am not recommending you try to follow in my footsteps. I thought the driving would be much easier on this small island but navigation is complicated, there is no real circle road of the Island and no intersection is actually square. Blind corners are the norm. Here is a list of points I hit the first day.
The Glass Church - I am not sure what I was expecting but not that exciting. OK if you are in the area but I wouldn’t make it a destination.
The War Tunnels - Very well put together display which evokes the history of the period of the occupation and what the islanders went through. I would say you don’t want to miss this.
La Mare Winery - I did not take the tour but picked up a bottle in the gift shop, inexpensive enough to take a risk on it. Their chocolate is excellent if a bit pricey.
Judith Queree Gardens - A lovely .25 acre rural garden. This is a private garden and visit is by appointment only. There are many unique and interesting varieties here and it is beautifully laid out to maximize the use of their space. Well worth a visit if you like gardens.
Eric Young Orchid Foundation - This is a little hard to get to but an astounding show of colour and unique flowers. You can view the breeding green houses as well as enjoy a very well laid out room where many varieties of orchid are displayed in an ideal setting.
Gory Harbour - I chose this water front purely because I was in the area and I am sure it is not the nicest on Jersey. Even with the tide out this beach barely worth the visit. Had a terrible lunch in a cafe, ordered a ham sandwich and was served some form of canned meat, barely edible.
Samares Manor - This is an outstanding property, well worth a visit. Both the herb garden and Japanese garden are at the top of their game. As well they offer lots of activities for the whole family.
Home for an excellent G and T at the La Haule Manor where the staff were happy to serve you out on the lovely patio sitting in the sun overlooking the sea.
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