Off The Beaten Track – King’s Mills
The Guernsey parish of Castel is one of the least built-up on the island, harbouring some of the most extensive swathes of countryside. Amongst its rolling fields and leafy backroads, a number of charming villages can be found, with the small settlement of King’s Mills being a prime example. King’s Mills lies in the north of the parish, less than a mile from the beachside paradise of Vazon Bay.
Despite its proximity to this destination – a highly popular spot amongst tourists – King’s Mills is tucked far enough away from the main routes to avoid the crowds. As a result, it’s a tranquil place and can be perfect if you wish to enjoy some peace and quiet. At the same time, however, the village provides a number of amenities which cater towards visitors, as well as remaining a relatively short distance from some of Guernsey’s most interesting regions. Not only that, but the village is just a few kilometres from St. Peter Port, making it easy to get to and from the capital.
A Bovine Legacy
If you’re planning to stay in Castel and explore the parish for any length of time, it can be a great idea to make the village of King’s Mills your base. At the centre of the village is the Fleur du Jardin Hotel, set within a traditional stone building that dates from the 15th century. Its old charm and unique architecture has been combined with a contemporary feel, with its rooms having undergone a stylish refurbishment.
Contrary to what the hotel’s English translation might suggest, it is not named after the ‘Flower of the Garden’. Instead, the hotel gets its name from one particular Guernsey cow, known for its breeding prowess. The building was once a dairy farm, with the King’s Mills area being a key region on the island for milk production. The hotel is a great place to stay and caters to almost every need, offering pet-friendly rooms, as well as a bar and restaurant. There is even a solar-heated swimming pool, which opens during the summer season. As well as providing quality Gastro pub food and cooked breakfasts to keep you fuelled during the day, it also acts as a gateway to some great tourist hotspots.
From King’s Mills I walked just a 16 minute walk to Vazon Bay, through a series of little lanes. There are walker-friendly maps of the area available, ensuring you stay on the correct route. However it is difficult to get lost and the sound of the ocean might guide you if the wind is coming from the right direction. From Vazon Bay, you can explore the wonderful headlands of Richmond and Fort Hommet.
The Sea On The Horizon
If you’d prefer to stay slightly more local to King’s Mills, a great spot to check out is that of King’s Mills Viewpoint. Situated just south of the village, this area of land rises upwards to form a small hill that overlooks the surrounding area. The walk up to the hill is not too strenuous and is suitable for most people, with the trail remaining on quiet backroads and countryside paths.
It is certainly worth reaching the viewpoint, as it provides some fantastic views towards Vazon Bay, as well as the wider coastline. There is also the remains of an old stone building here, which once stood proudly upon the hill but has long since fallen into ruin. Although it is a beautiful walk to do when the plants are in full leaf, the trees on the hill can sometimes obscure the views, so spring and autumn are often the best times to go.
King’s Mills’ natural wonders don’t end there, however. On the opposite side of the village, you can find a small nature reserve by the name of Rue des Bergers. This little wildlife haven is part of the larger Grande Mare area and can be found just off La Rue des Bergers, where there is a small carpark. The reserve is made up of a large pond, which was dug in 1993 in an effort to attract birdlife to the area. A range of species can be found among the reserve’s wet meadows and reedbeds, with it being especially good for birds and insects. Two hides are located at either side of the reserve, and these are the perfect places to get comfortable with your binoculars.
As sleepy, countryside villages go, King’s Mills may be one of the finest in Guernsey. Its proximity to some of Castel parish’s beauty spots makes it an ideal place to visit for nature lovers, or for those looking for a bit of tranquillity.
Discover other areas of Guernsey island! Find out more in the following article: Fairytale Sights In South-West Guernsey