The Channel Islands: A Paradise that Invites You to Walk
Whether you came by flying or sailing, once you arrive at any of The Channel Islands, what you most want to do is go for a walk. Or at least I do.
Some of these islands offer rides that you can do by car or you can rent one yourself. There are also places where you can rent a horse-drawn carriage where the coachman will tell you the stories and anecdotes of the place where you are.
There is even the possibility of renting a bicycle and pedalling around. But, without a doubt, the best option is to put on your best shoes, grab your camera or smartphone and dress with your best desire to explore, to discover these treasures that the English channel keeps.
The capital cities of Saint Helier (Jersey), Saint Peter Port (Guernsey), and Saint Anne (Alderney), have places, streets and roads, as well as historical sites, arranged in such a way that it causes you to walk for hours to admire them all, until you can take a well-deserved rest and enjoy the scenery while savouring any of the gastronomic delights that the islands offer.
Besides, if we talk about the health issue, walking has many advantages, even more so when we can do it in a place where nature and low pollution play in our favour. For example, did you know that walking 6,000 steps a day will improve your overall health and that 10,000 steps a day help you lose weight? Or that walking increases blood circulation to the brain and improves your attitude and mood.
Before Walking in The Channel Islands
Two of the things that you should keep in mind before traveling to The Channel Islands and walking around them, are the climate and the weather.
Fortunately, the islands can be visited at any time of the year, since their weather is not extreme, their winters are not usually very cold and their summers are not so hot.
August is the hottest month of the year, with average temperatures between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius, while the coldest month is January with temperatures ranging between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius.
November, December and January are the rainiest months on The Channel Island, while July is the month with the least rainfall.
The recommendation for those who plan to visit The Channel Islands with the firm intention of going for a walk to get to know the place, is that in planning your trip, check in advance how the weather will be on the days you plan to go, to know the type of clothing and footwear that should be worn, since, according to experts, the islands on any given day can offer elements of any of the four seasons: cold, heat, rain and wind, but rarely snow.
Walking in Jersey
Saint Helier, the capital of Jersey, the largest of the group that makes up The Channel Islands, is not only a beautiful port city, but it is steeped in history, beautiful landscapes and iconic streets and places where you can do the best shopping, thanks to the advantages offered by the island, since VAT is not charged.
King Street is an excellent walking spot. It is a street with luxurious shops where the visitor can do their shopping, whether it’s electronic devices, clothing or jewellery.
For those who would rather stay and visit traditional places Central Market is a great option and where you can find and buy fruits, vegetables, meat and fish produced in Jersey. They can also choose to sit in any of its many cafes and restaurants to eat the typical dishes of the place.
Saint Helier also has several museums that can be visited to learn about the history of the island. There are the Jersey Museum & Art Gallery, the Maritime Museum, and the Tapestry Gallery, among others that can be found outside the capital.
If you prefer to know the places you visit with a person by your side who guides you and tells you about the anecdotes and stories of the site, Jersey also offers a series of options where walking will be your main means of transportation.
Have you ever imagined the possibility of walking along the bottom of the sea, but without the need for an oxygen tank and all the necessary equipment for this purpose? It is possible to do it in Jersey! In general, The Channel Islands experiences a great variation of the tides and that is why at some hours of the day the sea water withdraws enough to be able to go on foot from one place to another walking along the seabed, literally speaking.
One of those walks is the one you can take up to Seymour Tower. The hike is 3 miles / 4.8 kilometers long and lasts between two and a half to three hours. During the tour, popularly known as “Moonwalk”, since some rock formations on the way resemble the Moon, you can also explore ravines, cross sandbanks, rock pools and you can closely observe the marine life of the place by getting to look very close tiny crabs, snails, and other species from the sea.
You will make the journey with tour guides who have years of experience and you will even have the opportunity to rent Wellington boots or water shoes.
Do you like fishing and oysters? Another of the walking tours that you will enjoy a lot is Sea Foraging & Oyster Trail with Bubbles, where you will have the opportunity to walk to the largest oyster farm in the British Isles, where you will also learn about some of the stories and more unique anecdotes about fishing in this place during the nineteenth century.
On the tour you will also learn about seaweed that sometimes we think is useless, but that it is edible and is a real delicacy.
After the three-hour journey, the group will go to the Seymour Pub on the island where they can eat different varieties of oysters and enjoy a glass of champagne, wine or beer.
If you want something a little more “intense”, there is also the possibility of taking a 45 mile / 72 kilometer tour, in which it is guaranteed that you will know all the attractions that the coast of the island of Jersey offers. The tour has a seven-day itinerary and includes the departure from the capital, St Helier, where you can get to know the city and its most emblematic points of interest.
Over the next six days you will have the chance to get up close and personal with the history of places like Elizabeth Castle, St Aubins Bay, the iconic La Corbiere Lighthouse, St Ouens Bay, and The Orchid Field.
The tour will take you from the south of the island, to the rugged roads of the north coast, where you can admire places like The Devil’s Hole, a cave from where you can admire the intense waves and the marine life of Jersey. You can also go to the northernmost tip of the island, Sorel Point, from where you can see the neighbouring island of Sark.
You will also visit the headland at Fliquet Bay, the closest point to France, where, on a clear day, you can see the fishing ports of Carteret and Portbail. Mont Orgueil, Jersey’s most impressive castle, will also be in your itinerary.
During these days, you’ll spend the night in the towns of St Brelades, Greve De Lecq, Gorey Bay and back to St Helier. Fortunately, each one of them has hotels with ample amenities where you can stay and rest from the long, but fruitful walk.
Walking in Guernsey
With its capital St Peter Port as a starting point, Guernsey is another of the islands that are part of The Channel Islands with different options to walk around it.
St Peter Port, a place loaded with centuries of stories dating back to Roman times, is considered one of the most beautiful ports in all of Europe and there are places like Castle Cornet that you cannot miss.
In this same building, you will have the opportunity to visit important museums that tell the history of the island, the castle itself, the maritime life of the island and its rich military heritage of the island, which has been, along with the rest of The Channel Islands, a main character of innumerable historical events, the last of them, and perhaps the most important, the occupation of the Nazis during the Second World War (1940-1945).
The tour known as Pepper Pot Ramble, will take the visitor, in a time no longer than two hours, from the watchtower that bears this name (Pepper Pot), passing through a forest of bluebells and white garlic.
The tour will also take you to a German World War II cemetery, until reaching Clarence Battery, one of the remaining sites of Fort George.
A visit to La Valette, one of the island’s military museums, initially designated by the Germans to refuel their fleet of U-Boats, is the first step before walking along the coast to return to St Peter Port, not without first enjoying a refreshing drink or coffee.
Although to get to the garden of Sausmarez Manor you have to use a motor vehicle, the visit to the place is entirely on foot.
Sausmarez Manor has more than 150 sculptures that adorn the place, along with a festival of colours that provide the trees and flowers that grow not only throughout the entire garden, but around its central lake.
Walking in Alderney
Despite only having a population of 2,400 and being the third most important of all the islands of The Channel Islands, Alderney also has its charm to be walked.
If you have the opportunity to visit the island during the spring or autumn months, you should not miss the opportunity to take the tour of the southern cliffs, with its beautiful views and unique wildlife. It is a short 2-miles tour, in which you will learn not only about Alderney’s military history, but even about its agricultural history.
The Gannet Trail is another of the hikes that can be done alone to enjoy the nature of the island. It runs 3.5 miles along the cliffs, from where you can admire the small island of Le Etacs and its population of gannets not far away. You will also be able to see the heathland flowers up close and you will have at your disposal several benches so that you can sit and enjoy a bit of the sea breeze and the landscape.
Departing from St. Anne, the capital of Alderney, you can take a 2.5-mile circular tour that will allow you to admire the nearby island of Burhou. This is the northwest part of the island and is ideal for a picnic. You can also admire the flight of migratory birds
Wooded valleys and the most breath-taking views on the island are part of the Community Woodland Trail, a 3-mile drive into the heart of Alderney.
At Longis Nature Reserve hikers will be able to enjoy spring flowers, resident birds during the summer and migratory birds during the fall. The three-mile loop ride also passes by the imposing World War II Odeon and Mannez Lighthouse.
If you want to enjoy the views of the sea from Alderney, make sure to save five hours of your time so that you can make the 10-mile journey along the entire coast of the island. Everything also depends on the speed you put in your steps, since you could stay some more time on any of its beaches, enjoying the landscape or taking photos, or eating in some of the places arranged for this purpose.
Walking through St Anne is another good alternative. Not only will you enjoy the historical public buildings and some private residences, but you can also take the tour following the Blue Plaque Trail, a tribute to the famous people who were born or lived on the island.
One of the advantages of The Channel Islands is that its authorities have understood the importance of the possibility of walking through its most emblematic sites, that is why for this purpose they have dedicated themselves to building and maintaining trails and roads so that the visitor can enjoy them. Are you ready to walk?
After all the walking you might get hungry. Learn more about the traditional meals in this article: Eating at the Channel Islands: The best of two worlds