Thursday, 9 September 2021

St Peter Port ("Town")


                                                       Castle Cornet from our hotel

We started this walk from our hotel, Le Fregate, and followed the narrow lane to turn left at the end and discover the Priaulx Library (once known as Candie House) built in the 1780s.

Then left into Candie Gardens where we found a fine statue of Queen Victoria (an exact copy of the one by the Houses of Parliament in London). Nearby is the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, which we enjoyed wandering round.

Next we went to the wonderful Victoria tower nearby. It was built in honour of a surprise visit to Guernsey undertaken by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1846. It was the first ever visit by a reigning monarch and it was decided to build the tower, funded by public subscription. The foundation stone was laid in 1848.

Rather wonderfully, access to the tower is controlled from the Museum. Would-be visitors have to get the key and hand it back when they have finished. It was a stiff climb to reach the top, which offered a very nice panorama over the town as far as Castle Cornet. 

We headed downhill, passing Elizabeth College. It was founded in 1563, but the main buildings date only from 1826. The architect was John Wilson, who built a number of buildings in St Peter Port. As a sometime Sociologist I was delighted to see a sign towards the Social Science wing.

Down the hill from Elizabeth College was the church of St James-the-Less, built in 1818 to provide an English-speaking C of E church for the British Garrison. This too was the work of John Wilson.


We continued downhill to reach the Harbour and St Peter Port Parish Church (known generally as Town Church). It dates from at least 1040, but the church you see today assumed its present-day appearance around 1500. The nave, tower and chancel are out of alignment, possibly due to the cramped sit.

Behind the church are the handsome and imposing former market buildings.

We now headed uphill to see Victor Hugo's House, Hauteville House. Victor Hugo lived there in exile for 15 years (1855-70) during the regime of Louis Napoleon. The house is now a museum, but was sadly not open.

We were struck by the blue post box on the wall opposite.

We retraced our steps to the harbour and walked out along Castle Pier to reach Castle Cornet, which was developed as a defence as soon as King John lost Normandy to France in 1204. This is what the approach looks like now ...

... and here is an earlier version, when the Castle was on an island. The magazine in the Castle keep was struck by lightning in 1672 and never replaced.

It is a complicated and rather unlovely structure with buildings from different dates jostling with each other. I thought this was one of the most atmospheric parts.

I was also rather taken by the Gaol.

To concluded our walk we followed the harbour side to the Albert Pier, from which we would later depart on the Condor ferry, to photograph the Liberation Monument which commemorates the end of the German occupation of Guernsey.

Conditions: warm and pleasant. 

Distance: 3 miles.

Walk done on September 9.

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Le Bourg, Petit Bot, Pointe de la Moye, Observation Tower



For our fourth coastal walk we again took a bus from St Peter Port ("Town") to Le Bourg on the road to the airport. We followed a twisting downhill road to reach Petit Bot Bay, where we finished yesterday's walk. The tide was in and no-one was around, so we had a nice clear view of Loophole Tower number 13, mentioned in yesterday's post. It was one of 15 such towers, hurriedly built in 1788 and 1789. The stimulus was the decision of the Americans, after the War of Independence, to ally with the French. 

We made a steady climb up from sea level to the clifftop path. There was a fine view back to Icart Point.

We followed the path, being drawn inland to La Fontenelles, and then heading back towards the coast. It was the day of the vintage aircraft fly-past and we were delighted to see a biplane almost above us over the sea. And even more delighted when the pilot did a few rolls, perhaps in response to our waves.

We were intrigued by Pointe de la Moye. It was covered in reddish bracken and on the nearside was an interesting container near the water line, with a ladder down to sea level and a small boat moored offshore. I would love to know what they were up to.

 The next section was fairly unexciting. The path took us inland to Le Bigard and then back to the coastal path. This was National Trust land and our guide tells us that pretty much any of the numerous paths will do equally well. 

We found our way successfully and soon had a nice view back over the area we have just walked. Looking ahead we saw the massive and imposing German Observation Tower at La Prevote.

The path went down and then up so it took a while to get there and we were very taken with what we thought was like one of those massive stoneworks found on Ester Island. In fact the two slits housed range-finding equipment.


As we passed the  Observation Tower we had a fine view of the coast ahead. We look forward to returning to Guernsey to continue this lovely coastal walk.



We headed inland and followed a road up to Rue du Manoir, where we were lucky enough to pick up a bus back to Town via the Airport after 5 minutes or so.

Conditions: grey at first, but becoming brighter and warmer later. 

Distance: 7 miles.

Walk done on September 8.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

La Fosse, Moulin Huet, Icart Point, Petit Bot Bay

Le Vallon

Today's walk starts close to where we finished yesterday at Le Vallon. It consists of two or three delightful, presumably Victorian, houses. From there we followed the Water Lane and then a road down to Moulin Huet Bay.

We turned right and climbed, soon passing this entertaining picture frame.

Beside it was a delightful picture by Renoir.

 We passed the headland at Bon Port ...


... and soon we were forced inland at Saints Bay. We saw a Martello Tower on the other side of the valley as we continued inland and then back along the opposite side of the inlet.

At the Tower we took a right turn climbing through woodland towards a hotel. On the distant horizon inland we spotted this unusual religious building, but couldn't quite work out where it was.

 Reaching the top of the climb at Icart Point we had a good view back towards Jerbourg Point ...

... and admired the cliff top path which lay ahead.

This was a very pleasant section of the walk which ended in a descent to Petit Bot Bay where there was a cafe and another Martrello Tower.

But the best bit was seeing the narrow bay at low water.

At this point we headed inland to reach the main road near the airport and catch a bus back to St Peter Port.

Conditions: warm and pleasant.

Distance: about 6 miles.

Guide: Walking on Guernsey (Cicerone). 

Walk done on September 7.

Monday, 6 September 2021

Fermain and Jerbourg Point


                                                                            Fermain Bay

We began by catching a bus from St Peter Port to Sausmarez Manor (pronounced so-maray) and walking down a lane, Le Varclin, towards Fermain Bay. After a while we left the lane and followed a track through the woods which brought us to the Coast Path south of Fermain Bay. We had a much clearer view today of the Pepperpot fort.

We climbed steadily and followed a high path above sea level. We reached Marble Bay and followed a path leading downwards across the back of an inlet. We could hear some swimmers far below. We climbed up the other side to follow a high path overlooking the sea.

We continued along a pleasant track with occasional climbs and descents to approach St Martin's Point. We declined the suggestion of our walk book to climb down further steps to the end where a white cube houses the light and fog signal.

A hundred steps later we reached the Strassburg Command Bunker at the top. It was constructed deep into the ground by the Germans. All you can see now is a grassy mound and various people recovering from the climb.

We followed the clifftop path and noticed our first German fortification projecting out of the rocks.

Not too long afterwards we passed the rocky Jerbourg Point. The rocks at the end are known (for some reason) as the Pea Stacks.

We turned the corner to walk along the west side of Jerbourg Point to gain a broad view of Moulin Huet Bay.

A bit further along the secluded sandy beach came into full view. 


We followed the path along the cliff top and paused for a drink at the cafe at Moulin Huet Bay.

We headed inland now towards the site of the Huet Mill, where we have our first encounter with a Water Lane. The defining feature is a stream which has been turned into a mini-canal which runs alongside a path.

The water bed is stone-paved with multi-coloured rocks at least in places. It is all rather magical.

The water lane ends at the Ville Amphrey where extensive building works are underway. We follow a path, the Ruette Fainel, beside the works until we come to Le Vallon, where there are a group of delightful houses in a kind of private close. (I plan to take a picture or two tomorrow, as we will be repeating this little section of the route).

We now follow a quiet street called Le Vallon towards our starting point and finishing point at Sausmarez Manor. We pass a derelict windmill at Moulin Huet and walk a short way down the road to wait for a bus (happily not long in coming). The bus service is very good.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: 6.25 miles.

Guide: Walking on Guernsey (Cicerone).

Sunday, 5 September 2021

St Peter Port, Fermain Point, Sausmarez Manor and Fort George


Castle Cornet, seen from our hotel balcony

We arrived last night in Guernsey and settled into our hotel in St Peter Port, the largest town in Guernsey. Our main plan today is to to walk some of the Guernsey Coast Path and at some later point explore the town of St Peter Port.

We head down to the harbour side and walk south, passing the Parish Church with the wonderful former market behind it (these will feature in the town walk at some point). The surprising factor this morning is that an unexpected sea mist has blown in and everything is very hazy. We walk past the entrance to Castle Pier and we are unable to see Castle Cornet at the end of it. The entrance to the underground Military Museum is less hazy.

The next section overlooks Havelet Bay (not that we can see it). We pass an area of bathing pools which some hardy people are enjoying only to discover that the route we are following has been closed. We retreat and find an alternative, higher, route. They might have warned us!

We soon pass the handsome rear entrance to Fort George (of which more later).

We are now into proper walking, lots of ups and downs, largely in woodland. We reach Clarence Battery which was built as a defence against the French and was one of the outliers of Fort George. It was known originally as Terres Point Battery, but was renamed in honour of George III's son 1815. The basic idea was for this battery to be able to provide cross-fire with the guns as Castle Cornet.

As we approached Fermain Point we emerged into a street with houses on the right and an incredible display of Buddleia on the seaward side. There were an incredible number of Red Admirals in flight, and a lone Painted Lady. I suppose I should have taken a photo, but I have loads already, so I didn't.

We continued through more woodland and emerged overlooking Fermain Bay. The pretty Bay couldn't be seen clearly, but the Pepperpot Tower stood proud through the murk and surrounding sun umbrellas. 

It is one of a series of 15 towers built between 1778 and 1780 (12 of which remain). The loopholes provided a defence against any possible approach while cannon could be fired from the roof. The primary purpose was to defend against the French.

We enjoyed a light lunch from the beach cafe and headed inland to find our way to  Sausmarez Manor, inland without the sea mist. This is Guernsey's only stately home and now offers all sorts of amusements for its visitors. It is however a very attractive building.

We then set out to walk back to St Peter Port.We passed this fantastic Victorian building, now a care home ...

... and admired a church conversion into four houses.


We soon reached Fort George and went through the imposing gateway.

Sadly, inside the walls there is almost no trace of the former military establishment, just this impressive enclosure with a modern house inside. 


The rest of the site is housing.

We walked around the outside of the walls and then rejoined the original path out.