Channel Islands, United Kingdom
Ramble or amble and be prepared to be delighted with Guernsey
121 people found this review helpful
Just across the Channel in Guernsey there are beaches, valleys and cliffs to make the spirits soar. This Channel Island is steeped in history spanning 1000 years, Castle Cornet was the last Royalist outpost anywhere in the British Isles to surrender during the Civil War. Victor Hugo was in exile on the island and a visit to his house is a must.
The Guernsey donkeys (as the local folk are called) have clung onto idyllic island life despite invasions by Normans, Germans and now financial institutions and tourists.
The island issues its own sterling coinage and banknotes. UK coinage and (English, Scottish and Northern Irish-faced) banknotes also circulate freely and are interchangeable. Guernsey is now home to the Specsavers Optical Group!
Whether you are a rambler or an ambler like me, Guernsey is sure to delight. The Culture and Leisure Department of the States of Guernsey have collated 46 rambles and ambles to choose from for the month of September. There is a comprehensive booklet called Guernsey Autumn Walking Weeks. Local guides take groups on walks which will give an insight into local life, they are terrible gossips! Walks cost £6.00 per tour (up to a half day) payable to the guide on the day and advance direct bookings are essential. Details of all the guides are at the back of the booklet.
There are ten parishes in Guernsey and all have distinctive characteristics. From cottages which are crying out to be in a watercolour painting, overlooking stunning beaches and rocks when the tide is out, to deep wooded valleys with streams feeding the reservoir and cliff tops which give breathtaking views across to Herm and Sark. Guernsey has a total area of 63.4 square kilometres (24.5 sq mi) but it seems much bigger as the lanes meander and the land is so varied.
Watch out for the so-called Guernsey Lily, Nerine sarniensis, which is used as a symbol of the island, although this species was introduced to the island from South Africa and a breed of goat known as the Golden Guernsey, distinguished by its golden-coloured coat.
If you decide to go it alone at any time of the year then wandering down lanes with French names, is a delight. Some lanes have yellow arrows leading walkers down 'Ruette Petits' lanes for walkers and cyclists. You need not be afraid of getting lost for anyone you meet will give directions and they all speak English! Everyone I met was very keen to know if I was enjoying the island and were very happy to chat and throw in a spot of local history too.
Pick up a bus time table from the Tourist Information Centre on arrival so if the feet get tired you can catch a bus home for £1.00 I hired a bicycle for a day (Cost Euro 12) and despite discovering bones I did not know existed, I thoroughly enjoyed poodling along the coast, stopping and taking photos, visiting the Pearl Centre and the Shipwreck Museum en route. Cycle Hire companies will bring the bike of your choice to your hotel, adjust the seat for you and set you off with helmet and lock and a smile as you wobble off hopefully.
I stayed at the Vazon Bay Self Catering Apartments, which is set in a really convenient location. Island buses stop directly in front of the complex and take you in either direction to St Peter Port for £1.00 After exploring during the day, we were too lazy to cook and took advantage of the two excellent café/restaurants near the apartments. Breakfast next to the sea watching the local sea swimmers is very popular and ‘Crabby Jacks’ offers a good selection of meals from pizza to fresh sea food dishes. Accommodation was spacious and clean set around a swimming pool which is heated during the season.
One word of warning, if you visit Guernsey you will be tempted by the traditional Guernsey recipes, the most renowned is a stew called Guernsey Bean Jar. It is centuries-old and still popular with Islanders. Chief ingredients include haricot and butter beans, pork and shin beef. Then there is Guernsey Gâche (pronounced Gosh) which is a special bread made with raisins, sultanas and mixed peel. Lashings of yellow Guernsey butter make this hard to resist when stopping for a break on your ramble. You may come home carrying more weight than you left with!
121 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.