The Channel Islands
Thursday, 20 March 2014

The Lady guide to…The Channel Islands

Stunning beaches, restaurants, weather and heritage. The only question is, which island suits you?

Written by Melonie Clarke

Alderney

The island of Alderney has been inhabited for 5,000 years – and its long history is recorded in the landscape, where there are examples of Stone Age relics (which can also be seen at the museum); Roman forts, and fortifications spanning the Napoleonic and Victorian eras, and the Second World War.

Alderney is an ideal place for anglers, especially where rocky, coastal outcrops provide protection for young fish. Even the novice angler should catch something. Inland, Corblets Reservoir is perfect for catching common and mirror carp. You don’t have to be a member to fish there either, and day tickets are available for £5.

Contact Jonathan Gates – 07781-457024, jonathan.gates@hotmail.com

The island has more than 50 miles of country and coastal footpaths, which are perfect for a gentle stroll or for something more energetic. Alderney Wildlife Trust – www.alderneywildlife.org – in co-operation with the Alderney Society, organises town walks.

01481-822811, www.visitalderney.com

Guernsey

For ramblers, the island of Guernsey, which covers only 25 square miles, has everything from rugged walks to strolls through history. Tasty Walks is a series of 11 self-guided walks designed for all ages and abilities, and all of which focus on different aspects, from shipwrecks to pretty harbours.

Literary lovers will also fall for Guernsey, which was once home to French author and poet Victor Hugo. The author spent 15 years in exile here, from 1855, and it proved to be an inspiration for a number of his works, including Les Misérables and Toilers Of The Sea.

Channel-Islands-01-590Fermain Bay, Guernsey

The Heritage Guernsey Festival runs from 12 April to 18 May and is a celebration of the island’s history. The 35-day event is jam-packed with events, from an opening of the wartime bunkers to talks and exhibitions. Celebrations also encompass the Guernsey Literary Festival, from 15 to 18 May.

01481-723552, www.visitguernsey.com

Herm

A visit to Herm, which is car-free, is a truly relaxing escape. Three miles from Guernsey, the island has a number of clean, unpolluted beaches that are perfect for topping up the tan or strolling along. The beaches are also ideal for exploring rock pools, crabbing and even a spot of snorkelling.

Be Inspired runs yoga retreats on the island. This year’s retreat runs from 13 to 15 March. As well as yoga, you can also enjoy reiki, holistic massage and reflexology treatments at an extra cost: 07781-152640, www.beinspiredby.co.uk

Channel-Islands-02-590Clockwise from left: South Coast Cliffs Guernsey, Alderney, Shell Beach Herm

Plant lovers can take a garden tour with the island’s head gardener, Brett Moore. Herm won the RHS Britain in Bloom Gold Award in 2002, 2008, 2012 and 2013. Following the tour there is an opportunity to buy plants. Tickets £7.50 per person.

01481-750000, www.herm.com

Jersey

At 45 square miles, Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, with no shortage of attractions. Visitors should consider buying a Jersey Pass – www.jerseypass.com – which gives free entrance to many attractions and entitles you to a number of special offers.

For animal lovers, the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust – www.durrell.org – is a must. The charity works globally to help save species from extinction. You can enjoy a guided walk around the centre or wander at your own pace.

Channel-Islands-00-Quote-590

The Jersey War Tunnels – www.jerseywartunnels.com – are another highlight, as the Second World War saw a number of the Channel Islands occupied by Nazi Germany. The islanders, with no weapons, had to choose whether to try to escape or to stay. The War Tunnels tell the story of the islanders’ wartime experiences.

For those with an interest in architecture, and especially Lalique glass, St Matthew’s Church should be on your itinerary. Built in 1840, the church is well known for its glasswork by famous artist René Lalique, which was installed during its renovation in 1934. It is thought to be the only remaining complete example of Lalique’s moulded, white glass.

01534-448800, www.jersey.com

Sark

A mere 50 minutes from Guernsey (there is a regular ferry service), the island is traffic-free, except for tractors, so it is a tranquil haven. It is easily explored by bike, foot or tractor, or by horse-pulled cart, which acts as bus or taxi.

In 2011 the island was designated the first Dark Sky Island Community in the world, meaning the sky is sufficiently clear of light pollution to allow phenomenal stargazing. The island also has a number of natural pools, including the Venus Pool and Adonis Pool – their waters are refreshed at high tide. Covering just two square miles, Sark is split into two islands, with Little Sark to the south, accessed by a narrow causeway, which has a drop of 330ft on each side – not one for the faint-hearted.

Channel-Islands-03-590From left: Sark, Jersey

Sark is self-sufficient and even has its own bakery. Sample local produce – vegetables, fruit, milk, butter and chocolate. The La Sablonnerie Hotel and Restaurant – www.sablonneriesark.com – is a haven of good food and is well worth the visit.

For information: 01481-723552, www.visitguernsey.com/-Sark

Dates for your diary

Alderney

Guernsey

Herm

Jersey

  • The Western Parish Fete on 12 July will have plenty of agricultural and horticultural attractions, and an evening barn dance, starring The Wurzels: www.westshow.org.je
  • Jersey Battle of the Flowers (14 and 15 August), has been staged since 1902: www.battleofflowers.com
  • Royal Jersey Agricultural and Horticultural Society has a series of events all year round: www.royaljersey.co.uk/whats-on.htm

Sark



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