Gems of the English Channel II - Jersey the Flower Island
A few tips about Jersey
The roads are really narrow, often borded by walls in stone. The best is to use public transportation. Except on Sundays and in the NW of the island, there are cheap buses running often. Also, if you are stuck somewhere, you are always only 1 or 2h walk away from a bus stop and the island is flat. Car insurances make a business out of those narrow streets and a simple little scratch can cost you more than your whole trip.
For Durrell Park, as it is a very popular destination, even among the locals, they add buses as long as everybody was not able to get into one so do not be scare by the size of the queue compared to the small buses they use.
Bus passes are really worth it.
Outside St Helier, there are not many cars, so it is quite nice to visit the island by foot or bike. Directions are usually well indicated.
What to see around Jersey?
Ever watched the tv show The Durrells? Well, it is time to do so! It shows how Gerald Durrell became that fabulous lover of animals he is worldwide known for (and the show is hilarious). The Durrell Park, also called Jersey Zoo, is a great example in the world of conservation. It helps save many species from Jersey and also from Mauritius and Madagascar. Durrell was really fond of the Red Island and lemurs conservation was one of his main projects. No big fives here, but mainly apes, monkeys, lemurs, reptiles and birds. The little museum is also really interesting.
It makes a great few hours visit.
The park grows its own food for the animals. Have a look at their beautiful garden.
Gorey is a lovely little fishermen village right at the foot of Mont Orgueil Castle.
From the gardens between Gorey and the castle, you have a great view over the bay.
Mont Orgueil Castle
This is one of the finest example of medieval fortresses standing in the world. From there, you can even see France. It has been standing there for over 800 years, protecting the island from invasions during 600 years until Elizabeth Castle was built. It then served as a prison and was later abandoned.
Its visit is not suitable for people having walking difficulties. The walk up there is very steep and the castle is full of stairs.
Horror connoisseurs will love The Wounded Man that shows all sorts of battle injuries leading to almost-certain death.
There are life-size soldiers still guarding the Castle from attack.
You will find memorials, sculptures, all around the castle.
British and French family tree by Brian Fell.
There are also regular exhibitions inside the castle.
Nazis used the castle during WWII and added a few structures to it.
La Hougue Bie
There are many dolmen sites that can be visited for free in Jersey so why pay for this one? Because it is one of the oldest structures in the world. It was built way before the Egyptian pyramids. It is also aligned with the equinox. And you can go inside!
Plus, there is a very moving memorial to WWII prisoners in a bunker right next to the pyramid.
There is a medieval chapel sitting on top of the prehistoric mound and dolmen. This makes quite an unusual sight.
This small museum explains the story of Jersey from ¼ million years ago up to the end of the Roman period.
Several structures have been found on the ground of La Hougue Bie.
Gasswork Stone Avenue
Avenue of upright stone transplanted here from St Helier.
Several of them have been found in La Motte. Two were re-erected here.
From La Hougue des Platons.
Traditional Jersey well-head from L'Anciennette Farm in St Brelade.
Dated from around 3500 BC, it is one of the largest and best preserved passage graves in Western Europe. It was a ceremonial site more than a burial ground although graves have been found inside.
The main chamber has a cruciform shape. Two side chambers to the north and south were the burial plots for the dead. During equinox, the rising sunlight goes through the main entrance.
World War II Slave Worker Memorial
This is one of most emotionally compelling WWII memorials I have ever seen. Set in a bunker, it shows what inhabitants of Jersey saw during WWII, when Nazis used the island as a prison for slave workers, through their words.
Ruins of a castle built around 1330. The name comes from the old Norse words for 'grey headland', which is how it looks like when seen from the sea.
It has great scenic views.
Right next to Grosnez Castle, there is a nice walk through the Heathlands, with views on Guernsey and Sark. Stay on the paths, the plants are protected.
St Ouen, Faulkner Fisheries and L'Etaq
Faulkner Fisheries is nestled inside a Second World War German bunker at L’Etacq in St Ouen. Their meals are really good.
L'Etaq has a few cute houses. There is also a manor in St Ouen.
The bay of St Ouen is huge! In the middle of it, you can stay at Rocco Tower for 350£ a night. This is an expensive but unique experience.
There are not many buses in this part of the island. And not much shadow either!
You cannot miss them, they are everywhere.
La Corbière Lighthouse
One of the most spectacular sceneries of the island, especially when a storm is coming. This iconic sight of Jersey was lit on 24 April 1874 and automated in 1976. It can be reach at low tide only. Do not miss the rocky pools close to the causeway. They are only uncovered at the lowest of tides and are full of life. The contrast between the colours of the water and the rocks is also really nice to see.
Two important things to know:
Keep an eye on the tide. There is an alarm but it might not work.
Keep an eye on seagulls if you have food in hands, including ice cream. They are VERY annoying.
There is a hotel restaurant nearby, Corbiere Phare, from where you can admire the view while having a rest. Meal prices are correct. Rooms are expensive.
There are also any room where you can have your own picnic with a view.
La Corbiere Lighthouse is one of the most photographed landmarks in Jersey and definitly a must-seen. It can be easily reach by public transport, bicycle or foot from St Aubin.
There are a lot of towers around the island. Some have been abandoned, others have been incorporated to private properties or even transformed into hotels.
From La Corbière, you can see the famous MP2 tower, a range-finding tower built by nazis during WWII. It is now an observation tower with a 360-degree view. It also houses a self-catering accommodation coming at a price.
Privately owned tower named Platte Rocque Tower.
Seymour Tower is unique among Jersey's coastal towers because it is square, rather than round. You can sleep there for £350 per night.
St Aubin is a lovely village on the south coast. It is the warmest place of the island. There is a fort that can be reach at low tide.
St Aubin is also where you will find the former railway station occupied by the Parish Hall and the Railway Walk, a trail following the route of the former railway to La Corbière, starts from there.
There used to be 2 railways in Jersey.
The Jersey Eastern Railway, from St Helier to Gorey, began operations on 6 August 1873 . The line closed on 21 June 1929.
Opened in 1870, the Jersey Railway was closed in 1936. It was linking St Helier to Corbiere. Nazis reopened it when they started to transform Jersey into an impregnable fortress. It was closed again in 1945 when Jersey was freed. There have been talks about reopening it but nothing has been done yet.
The bus stops right near one of Jersey’s oldest inns.
The path to the Devils Hole is right behind it.
A few minutes after starting your walk, you will meet with the Devil itself.
This huge statue is supposed to be the devil’s metal replica of the figurehead of a French boat that drown in 1851. According to the legend, it was stuck into the natural crater where a local sculptor too it and transformed it into a wooden devil. This said, there are several different legends around this place.
The real name of the cavern is actually ‘Le Creux de Vis’ or ‘The spiral Hollow’. It was created by the collapse of a cave after the water eroded its roof. It then formed a crater.
The walk is about a 10 or 15 minutes hike downhill and the way bac is fairly steep. There are several benches along the way, but not much shade You will find some informational signage about the area and there is a viewing platform above the Hole itself. The coastline is beautiful.
Check the tide times because it is much more impressive when the water goes into it. It is then looking like a blowhole.
Devil's Hole to Sorel Point Cliff Path Walk
This is one of the best walks on the island. You can start it either at Sorel Point or at Priory Inn.
This 2 km will show you the North coast in all its splendor. It is made up of cliffs, coves and valleys eroded over millions of years.
These are Manx Loaghtan sheep, native from Man Island. Believed to be the closest living relative to Jersey extinct sheep, they have been introduced in Jersey in order to control the growth of invasive plants. And it works well.
Sorel lighthouse is just a big lamp in a shell of white concrete. It was built in 1938 and it is still in use.
From there, you can see Ronez quarry, which is a huge change from the beautiful landscape you have just crossed.
For your information, the nearest pub is Les Fontaines Tavern, on La Route du Nord. Built during WWII, the road is now dedicated to the people of Jersey who suffered during that awful period of time.
St John Village
This village is interesting for the architecture of its church. It is known to have existed as early as 1150 and has a two-storey belfry surmounted by a spire.
These acute spires are commun in the Channel islands and were evolved from the low pyramidal or "battered" roof found in Normandy.
Also, its rector is a woman with dreadlocks and a nose piercing.
La Rocque is famous for the "Battle of Jersey".
In 1781, the French landed on the island and tried to ambush the Governor but the militia refused to surrender, and after a pitched battle in the Royal square, in St Helier, the French surrendered.
A final battle took place at La Rocque, where the French rearguard faced more soldiers. With no escape possible, they too surrendered
The photos do not really show it but there are lovely little beaches in La Rocque, as well as a beautiful mansion and great views over the south coast.
What else is to see in Jersey?
Well, many more! Check Visit Jersey, the tourism office website, for more information.