Located in the south-west of Guernsey, the parish of St Peter – known officially as Saint Pierre du Bois – lies at the centre of the island’s western parish group. It is known for having some idyllic countryside, as well as fantastic stretches of coastline such as the headland of L’Erée. Inhabitants of the parish are affectionately known as “etcherbaots” in the old Guernesiais language, which translates as beetles.
Just over 2,000 “beetles” reside in the parish, with the village of St. Peter’s being one of the main settlements. Located towards the centre of the parish, the village is a short distance from Guernsey Airport, making it very easy to get to if you’re arriving on the island by plane. It is easy to forget St. Peter’s proximity to this travel gateway, however, as the village is surrounded by peaceful countryside. Wooded areas and hedgerows thrive in the region, making it a pleasant place for a stroll. And while the village itself may not be large, there are a range of sights to see in the surrounding region.
A visit to St. Peter’s village can be a chance to explore one of the most unusual Parish Churches in Guernsey. St. Peter’s Parish Church sits at the base of a small valley and is a quaint building, nestled unobtrusively into the countryside. It is hard to see why the church is notable until you step inside, where upon you are sure to notice that the floor is not flat. In fact, there is about two metres in elevation between the entrance to the church and the alter at the opposite end. The church is also much larger inside than it appears on the outside, and has a number of beautiful stained-glass windows, including one of St. Peter himself.
As you might expect, St. Peter’s church plays a strong role in the local community and it is often a venue for concerts given by choirs, folk bands and light orchestra. These are often very friendly, joyous occasions which are accompanied by food and wine. If you don’t happen to visit on a day of one of these events (or even if you do), you may wish to search the church’s graveyard for a real-life pirate grave.
The community spirit of St. Peter’s is most evident on a Wednesday, when the village’s country market is staged. A range of fresh produce is on offer, along with home-made cakes, pies, jams and local craft items. Located in the community building behind St. Peter’s Post Office, the market usually occurs between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. If you happen to spend time here, I recommend to combine this with a lunchtime trip to the nearby Longfrie Inn. Its restaurant and bar are popular among locals, offering a selection of real ales, home-cooked food and a relaxed atmosphere. You are free to sit in the garden when the weather is nice, and there is even a soft play area to keep young children amused. The inn also accepts guests, making it a convenient place to stay.
St. Peter’s is also blessed by having a nature reserve right on its doorstep. Silbe Nature Reserve is located just a few minutes walk from the village. It sits within a small valley, where a lush forest of deciduous woodland provides habitat for a host of native wildlife species, as well as colourful wildflowers. Spring and summer are the best times of year to visit the nature reserve in bloom, but it is a haven for birdlife all year-round.
The land is owned and managed by La Société Guernésiaise, the local wildlife trust, who take care of the area and ensure it is well maintained. A network of paths run through the nature reserve, making it the perfect place for a walk. The area is unknown even to many locals, making Silbe Nature Reserve’s peacefulness and tranquillity one of its defining characteristics.
In the lower regions of the reserve, a small brook leads to a complex of farm dwellings that is a great place to come across, provided you can find it among the lush vegetation. Known as Le Moulin de Quanteraine, the buildings are the site of the last functioning water mill in Guernsey, which closed in the 1930’s, but was restored to its former glory in 1990. It makes for an interesting visit and the babbling stream is a wonderful place to enjoy.
The village of St. Peter’s is therefore an excellent place to go, especially if you catch it on the right day. Although small, there are sights and activities to enjoy no matter the time of year, with it being the epitome of small Guernsey villages.
Learn more about this amazing island in the following article: The Quirky And Interesting Island Of Guernsey