A Channel Island Delight
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St Brelade's Bay[/caption]
There are three Crown Dependencies within the United Kingdom, the most southerly two being better known as the Channel Islands. The overseas visitor, and even many British citizens, might well ask, “but they are British, aren’t they?” Well yes… and no.
The official language is English but with various dialects of French. The Island born resident bears a British passport but without EU citizenship. The States enact their own laws but with differences between islands. Queen Elizabeth II is the common monarch but is frequently referred to as the Duke of Normandy. This is a “sovereign anomaly” wrapped up in a sunny archipelago of nine inhabited islands, a dozen minor island chains and hundreds of tidal islets and major rocks. Interesting? Come and see for yourself.
A relaxed island hopping tour is possible within one hour’s flight time from London. Jersey’s capital, St Helier, welcomes the visitor with a high street displaying iconic British brands but hop on a bus to La Rocque Harbour and a different world emerges. Walk along “Jersey Green Lanes” where traffic is limited to 15mph and the pedestrian has right of way then admire a tidal seascape which changes character twice a day. Tomorrow you take a taxi to the Jersey War Tunnels, the museum of the Jersey’s military occupation, then stroll through the wooded St Peter’s Valley to St Aubin to enjoy fine dining by the harbour. The following day, a circular hike takes in Noirmont Point and the sobering battlements of Hitler’s redundant Atlantic Wall before the golden sands of St Brelade’s Bay.
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La Rocque Harbour[/caption]
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St Brelade's Bay[/caption]
The smooth, high-speed ferry from St Helier provides new perspectives on St Aubin Bay and the cliffs of Noirmont Point. Taking about an hour to reach Guernsey, the journey leaves time to check into the hotel then return for a look around St Peter Port and its Old Quarter.
The efficient local bus offers a reliable alternative to the car and, for one pound, it will drop you on the coastal path at Port Grat. Rocks and fortified towers dot the horizon and the huge tidal range exposes rock pools between sweeping beaches. No need for picnics today, regular coffee kiosks are tucked along the high water line. After Le Grand Havre and Pembroke Bay, the route turns inland through the miniature lanes of Fontenelle before reaching Bordeaux Harbour with fine views of the islands of Herm and Jethou.
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The last day transports you to the simply superb Sark. Springtime blue bells line the path up to the village, Dixcart Bay dazzles with turquoise water and the Gouliot Headland invites you to picnic overlooking Brecqhou Island. La Coupée, the extraordinary knife-edge causeway to Little Sark, beckons you on with a panorama of distant Guernsey.
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Grand Greve & distant Guernsey[/caption]
The “Avenue”, the village main street, provides ample opportunity for refreshment in an atmosphere that is uniquely “sercquaise”.
This tour demands the extra mile to visit but the rewards are worth it.