A first-time visit to this island left us rueing why we hadn’t made the venture much sooner … for Guernsey completely melted our hearts!
The instinctive temptation is to compare Guernsey to Jersey … I reckon that this is a mistake, as both should be measured on their own considerable merits. Therefore, I will leave the rivalled (however tongue-in-cheek) comparisons to the ‘Donkeys v Toads’ brigade.
I have a considerable amount of coastal walking experience under my very worn belt, and it gave me great pleasure to discover that the COMPLETELY UNINTERRUPTED section of coast path from St. Peter’s Port to Pleinmont is just about as good as it gets!
Although the Channel Island’s 1:25 000 walking maps are not exactly my favourite, it would be difficult to follow this particular coast path even with a mighty Ordnance Survey in hand! Surely, you say, all you have to do is keep the sea on one side of you and away you go? … wrong, there are a wealth of sub-paths that suddenly divert off to a magical viewpoint or plunge down to one of the many secluded bays (fine if you have got the time). This is where a much-unassuming knight in shining armour is on hand … the strategically placed rock way-markers, saving an untold number of frustrating and unwelcomed diversions!
Following a familiar format, our intention was always to circumnavigate the island. With the undulating section well and truly bagged, we now set our sights on the north of the island. A change of mode of ‘transport’ was required … from boot power to pedal power.
Heading anti-clockwise, from St.Peter’s Port right the way around to Pleinmont, the route is a flat and coast-hugging slice of cycling joy. Granted, we were sometimes competing with heavy car traffic, and the dedicated cycleways were somewhat sporadic … but overall this was wonderful and easily achievable in a day.
Our choice of cycle hire could not have been more contrasting.
Linda opted for an e-bike … the clumsiest contraption I’d ever seen, and weighing the same as a baby rhino! In reality, it worked very well, she felt comfortable, safe and secure on it … she was happy, so I was happy.
I opted for a good old-fashioned drop-handlebar racer … both made light work of our pre-determined distance, eating up the miles with great ease.
Feeling extremely proud of our imminent ‘conquest’ of the island, we afforded ourselves the luxury of completing the final leg of our circular mission, albeit a short one, on horseback … courtesy of ‘Silver’ and the other one (sorry, forgot the name … oops).
CYCLING ON THE ISLAND:
A booklet is available detailing a comprehensive selection of cycling suggestions on Guernsey. They are colour and number coordinated with ample on-road signage to assist you along your chosen route.
A huge thanks to my beloved Linda for putting up with me and allowing me to drag her up and down (seemed more ups!) those sea-hugging paths, often in sweltering heat.
In order to get to and from our accommodation (we stayed in the centrally located parish of St.Martin … superb), it was necessary at times to head inland and use the cramped network of lanes and main roads. Praise where praise is due, mercifully the aforementioned map has all the street names on … an essential nav tool.
It was not exactly ideal to cycle along them whilst simultaneously trying to navigate using a large paper map! Many a time, we would have to pull over in someone’s driveway (no properties are less than a million over here, or so it seemed!) to relocate. It amused us greatly that no sooner had we stopped than the house owner would rush out to offer genuine directional help.
Although our stay was for a generous ten days, a feeling of ‘not scratching the surface’ descended on us by the time it was to say goodbye. Here are some of the ideas we did not get around to …
>>> OCCUPATION TRAIL – to connect some of the defensive landmark legacies with the buildings that were commandeered by the Germans and visit the wealth of excellent museums dedicated to the Occupations.
>>> NORTH COASTAL PATH – a very flat, easy and pleasurable walk (more a stroll), with Cobo Bay offering an exquisite rest-stop in the middle.
>>> NORTH TO SOUTH CROSS-COUNTRY WALK – exploring some of the less known intriguing footpaths and ‘green lanes’, stepping back a lot further in time than is perhaps thought(?).
>>> OUTER ISLANDS – Alderney, Sark and Herm are within tantalising reach, each worthy of a short boat ride and investigation.