Normally we return to the UK from Hong Kong for several weeks in the summer. We spend two or three weeks travelling round different parts of Europe and the rest visiting family and friends in the UK. In 2004 we had to sort out and sell my mother-in-law's house, so we needed to spend a long time in the Midlands. Instead of travelling for a couple of weeks round Europe, we could just manage a few days in Jersey. Neither of us had ever been to the Channel Islands before and we had often wanted to go. We made it a two centre holiday beginning with a couple of nights in St Helier and then a couple of nights in Bonne Nuit Bay. We liked both places. St Helier was more convenient for bus travel, because to travel anywhere from Bonne Nuit Bay, we had to first take a bus to St Helier then catch a bus to the place we wanted to visit. However, Bonne Nuit Bay had fantastic coastal scenery which made up for any other drawbacks, plus our hotel there had a pool while the one in St Helier did not. As well as travelling around by bus, we also did quite a lot of walking which was a great way to enjoy much of the lovely scenery. During our stay we visited St Helier, St Aubins, Corbiere Lighthouse, St Ouen's Bay, Bonne Nuit Bay, Bouley Bay, Mount Orgueil Castle in Gorey, Grosnez Castle, the Lavendar Farm, the devil's statue in the devil's hole and Grouville Parish Church.
Our holiday was blessed with lovely sunny weather. We found the scenery on Jersey very beautiful and the way of life peaceful and relaxed. One of our favourite memories was a bus trip we took on a rather crowded local bus. The driver would not drive because a child was sitting while an adult was standing. Actually the child was very polite about giving up her seat. The same driver then turned into an improntu tour guide telling all the passengers about sights they were passing and making jokes about them. Such as when we passed a field with seagulls resting in it, he insisted the seagulls had been planted there and would later be harvested and trained to steal tourists' ice-cream cones. Jersey ice-cream by the way is delicious, but those gulls really are evil.
St Helier is the capital of Jersey and its biggest town. It is located on the southern side of the island in St Aubin's Bay. The town is named after Saint Helier; Jersey’s earliest and most important saint. He lived and preached on Jersey in the 8th Century. St Helier has a busy harbour and marina, a beach, a castle that's surrounded by the sea at high tide, several statues and Liberation Square. The castle in the sea is St Elizabeth's Castle. It is built on a rocky islet in St Aubin's Bay. At low tide you can walk out to it. At high tide it is surrounded by the sea. It is possible to take a vehicle there and back at both low and high tide, but we just walked both ways and made sure we paid attention to the tide information which was posted up. It was quite interesting to watch the tide come in. Elizabeth Castle has an interesting history. It contains the Hermitage where St Helier lived around 550 A.D. It was also once home to Sir Walter Raleigh. He was Governor of Jersey from 1600 until 1603. Elizabeth Castle was built as Jersey's main defensive structure after Castle Mont Orgueil in Gorey was considered too vulnerable to attack by gunpowder. Castle Mont Orgueil was supposed to be dismantled and its materials used to build Elizabeth Castle. Fortunately, Walter Raleigh put a stop to this and Castle Mont Orgueil survived. Charles II hid from the roundheads at Elizabeth Castle during the English Civil War. Liberation Square was developed in 1995 to mark the 50th Anniversary of Jersey's Liberation from German Occupation during World War II. Jersey was liberated by British forces on May 9th 1945. During the occupation the islanders had undergone terrible hardships. At the centre of Liberation Square is a sculpture depicting a group of people holding the Union Jack and celebrating their freedom. This sculpture was created by Philip Jackson. The sculpture is in the centre of a fountain with 12 water jets; one for each parish of Jersey. To the north of Liberation Square stands the Pomme D’Or Hotel. This building was used by the Nazis as their Headquarters during the German Occupation. There is also a statue of Queen Victoria in St Helier. She visited the Island twice during her reign and found it very beautiful. The statue of her was erected in 1887 to celebrate her Golden Jubilee. It is located in a small park near the Grand Hotel. Another odd statue was that of a toad on one of the main streets.
We walked along the coast from St Helier to St Aubin's. There is a long stretch of beach on the way. St Aubin's is a very pretty place with a fort in the water, a beach and lots of restaurants and cafes. On the walk there we passed an amazing sand sculpture. St Aubin's began life as a fishing village. The bay at St Aubin's is dominated by Saint Aubin's Fort. This fort is on an island you can walk to at low tide, but at high tide it is surrounded by the sea. St Aubin's Fort was built in the 1540s to protect the harbour of St Aubin's. We then walked along the railway walk from St Aubin's to La Corbiere to see its famous lighthouse.
We walked along the route of the old railway from St Aubin's to La Corbiere with its beautiful lighthouse. La Corbiere Lighthouse is located in southwestern Jersey. It was designed by Sir John Coode and was completed in 1874. It is located on an island you can walk to at low tide, but it becomes completely cut off at high tide. A buzzer sound warns you when to get off the walkway linking the lighthouse to the shore as the tide is coming in. There was a plaque commemorating Peter Edwin Larbalestier, assistant keeper of the lighthouse, who was drowned on the 28th of May 1946, while trying to rescue a visitor cut off by the incoming tide. La Corbiere Lighthouse is 19m or 62 ft high and its lamp stands 36m or 119 ft above high water spring tides. The light from La Corbiere Lighthouse can be seen up to 18 miles away on a clear night. The lighthouse itself is beautiful and so is the rugged rocky coastline that surrounds it. There are some watchtowers dating from the German occupation located on the cliffs around La Corbiere.
St Ouen's Bay.
Near La Corbiere Lighthouse is St Ouen's Bay. There is a long stretch of beach here. This area is popular with surfers but is dangerous for swimmers due to strong currents. In the middle of the bay surrounded by water twice a day stands La Rocco Tower. This tower dates from the 1800s. It consists of a fortified central tower with a large surrounding gun platform. La Rocco Tower was once part of Jersey's extensive coastal defence system. The Jersey Pearl was located in this area, too.This is a family business devoted to making pearl jewellery.
Bonne Nuit Bay.
After a couple of nights in St Helier we moved to Le Cheval Roc Hotel in Bonne Nuit Bay. Bonne Nuit Bay is located on the north coast of Jersey. Bonne Nuit has a small fishing harbour, beach and beach cafe. The coastal scenery here is lovely and we walked from Bonne Nuit Bay to Bouley Bay along the coastal paths. Bonne Nuit Bay is connected to St Helier by the number 4 bus. Bonne Nuit Bay takes its name from its sheltered harbour where sailors could moore and be guaranteed a good night's sleep safe from rough seas. Le Cheval Roc was a comfortable hotel with a lovely outdoor swmming pool. The hotel's name originates from a local legend. One upon a time a beautiful young girl called Anne Marie went for a stroll along the beach at Bonne Nuit. A lonely old sea sprite saw her and decided to take her as his bride, but he knew she would never accept him as she loved another. His name was William. The next day to his astonishment William found a magnificent white stallion in his stable. He longed to ride it, but warned in a dream that the stallion meant to harm him, he first picked some mistletoe to protect him from evil. Next day as William rode the white stallion across Bonne Nuit Beach towards Anne Marie the stallion, which was really the sea sprite in disguise, suddenly charged towards the sea. William realised the stallion meant to drown him and he frantically began to strike it with the mistletoe. The stallion went rigid and turned to stone the cheval roc. One of the rocks in Bonne Nuit Bay is supposed to look like a horse. La Crete Fort is located on a headland in Bonne Nuit Bay. It was built to guard against a suspected French invasion of the island.
We walked along the coastal path from Bonne Nuit Bay to Bouley Bay passing by La Crete Fort built to repel suspected invasions by the French.
The coastal path is stunning with beautiful views over the surrounding cliffs and sea. In July it was purple with heather. Take care though; it can be slippy; at one point my husband almost slipped over the edge while taking a photo and was saved by a bramble bush. This area was once notorious for smuggling. The smugglers would lure ships onto the rocks, kill their crew and plunder their cargo which they could hide in various caves. To prevent people witnessing their illegal night time deeds, the smugglers spread a legend about a giant black dog that wandered the cliffs at night attacking any wanderers unfortunate enough to cross its path. This dog is known as the black dog of Bouley Bay. The dog was rumoured to have red devil eyes as big as saucers. It dragged a huge chain which its victims would hear before they saw the beast. The dog did no actual bodily harm to its victims, but it ran circles around them driving them mad with fear. Now a sight or sound of the dog is believed to mean a severe storm is coming. We visited on a sunny day so did not encounter the beast, but the cliffs are atmospheric and I would not like to wander them alone late in the evening!!! There was a pub named after the black dog in Bouley Bay. It has a little statue of the dog. We had a pleasant drink there. Bouley Bay has a beach. We swam here and I also enjoyed a tasty fresh crab sandwich from its cafe. There is a centre for scuba diving at Bouley Bay.
Orgueil Castle, Gorey.
Gorey is situated on the east coast of Jersey. You can get there on bus 1,1A or 1B from St Helier. Gorey is a little fishing village dominated by the Castle of Mont Orguiel. The Village of Gorey began to develop early in the 19th century as hundreds of oyster fishermen moved to Jersey from the south east coast of England. At its height around 2,500 people were employed in the oyster fishing industry here and rows of fisherman's cottages were built to house them. Severe over-fishing brought about the industry's decline and for a while boat building took over as the new industry. Mont Orgueil Castle towers over the Village of Gorey. It was built on a headland surrounded on three sides by water. Its purpose was to repel attacks from France. It is on the headland of Jersey which is closest to mainland France. The castle is first mentioned around 1212. When gun powder was invented Mont Orgueil Castle was considered indefensible and a new castle was built in St Helier which was easier to defend Elizabeth Castle. The original plan was to dismantle Mont Orgueil Castle and use the stones to build Elizabeth Castle. Fortunately this plan was vetoed by Sir Walter Raleigh who was then governor of Jersey. He thought it would be a pity to destroy Castle Mont Orgueil. When its importance as a castle declined, Mont Orgueil Castle was used as a prison the only prison on Jersey at the time until the end of the seventeenth century. The castle and village are very beautiful and I would strongly recommend a visit here. The Devil in Jersey.
Devil’s Hole Review.
The Devil’s Hole is a natural crater in a cliff. It measures about 100ft across and plunges 200ft down. It was created by the sea gradually eroding the roof of a cave. After a shipwreck in 1851 a ship's figurehead was washed up right into the Devil's Hole. The figurehead was a statue of a man, but the statue was placed inside the Devil's Hole and horns were added to his head to turn him into the devil. The original wooden statue has since deteriorated; the present one is made of metal. It's quite eerie to see the statue standing all alone in its pond. The scenery around this area is lovely.
The Ruins of Grosnez Castle.
Grosnez Castle is located on a headland on the northwest of Jersey. Grosnez means Gray Headland. The castle which is now in ruins is thought to have been built in the 14th century to provide shelter for the local farmers in the event of attacks from France. We got there on bus number 8 from St Helier. When we boarded the bus, we asked the driver if his bus went to the castle and he told us it was not a castle, just a few rocks, not worth going to and we would only be disappointed when we got there. We went anyway and when he called us to get off at the castle, he repeated that we were wasting our time and would just hate the place. In fact we might as well not even bother getting off and should just return to St Helier with him. We got off anyway. We were unsurprisingly not expecting much from the castle but in fact really liked it. All right the castle itself does just consist of a few ruins but it is surrounded by beautiful coastal scenery and was in no respect disappointing. Also we almost had the area to ourselves, probably no-one else made it past the bus driver!! There are concrete steps at the rear of Grosnez Castle that go down to a small automated signal station. There are wonderful coastal views from the platform.
The Jersey Lavender Farm.
I'm very fond of flowers and Jersey with its hours of sunlight is famous for them. We enjoyed a visit to the colourful Jersey Lavender Farm with its lovely fields of highly scented light blue lavender. You can get here from St Helier on bus number 12A or bus number 15. The Jersey Lavender Farm is a family run business. It was started in 1983 when the parents of the current owner, Alastair Christie, inherited a disused dairy farm. They decided to grow lavender on the farm as it was a perfect crop for the soil in this area. The Jersey Lavender Farm grows, harvests and distills lavender to produce lavender essential oil. They also grow rosemary, eucalyptus, bay laurel and cypress and distill their oils, too. There was a lovely cafe and gift shop here.
Grouville Parish Church.
We kept passing this lovely church on the bus as we travelled back and forth to Bonne Nuit Bay, so decided to get off and investigate it. Grouville Parish Church is dedicated to St Martin of Tours. He is known as the Soldier Saint. His Saint’s day is 11th November Remembrance Day. The church dates from the 11th century. The churchyard contains a memorial to the British grenadiers who died attacking the French at La Rocque during the invasion of 1781. We wandered around the churchyard and encountered some people trying to locate their ancestors' graves. We had a very pleasant meal in a pub not far from the church.