After the previous day enjoying the Battle of the Flowers carnival we resumed our coastal walk around Jersey. We set off as usual from the campsite, taking a bus to St Helier and then another on from St Helier to Gorey. Both these routes run regularly, so the journey was fairly straightforward.
Once again, we were blessed with a glorious sunny day which makes it all the more enjoyable. It was low tide at Gorey harbour and we initially headed south on the promenade alongside the road, separated from the traffic by some attractive flower beds.
We stopped for a look back at that magnificent castle once more although it did not look as good as on our previous visit because the sun coming from behind it.
Soon we got bored with the road and since the tide was out, headed down to the beach just to our left, which was now mostly hard sand, making for easy walking. We were passing along the houses that line the back of the Royal Bay of Grouville. It was fine walking and soon we had a good view back to the castle now looking rather smaller.
In places along the beach there were rocks, mostly covered with sea weed, but there was sand close by we could keep to. For a while I walked in the edge of the water, which was very refreshing. Soon the houses ended and the view at the back of the beach was rather greener, as it was now backed by the Royal Jersey Golf club.
We were soon passing something else that has become a familiar sight on the coast of Jersey, another Fort.
This one is Fort Henry and it was built in 1758. However it looks like it was used during World War II with a concrete building alongside it although I don’t know what purpose it served, as it didn’t appear to have any windows or openings.
We continued south along the beach with the sun now getting higher and sparkling over the wet sand and sea, as we passed a few boats left on the sands.
It wasn’t long before we reached another fort, although this one seemed to have been incorporated into a newer building, presumably flats or a hotel, it looked rather odd.
We continued south on the beach, enjoying the easy walking after the first couple of days over the rugged cliffs. We passed a parked up amphibious vehicle on the beach and then soon another Martello tower, one that has again been incorporated into a house, but it’s position looked rather exposed, as the sea wall had now ended and it had little protection from the beach.
The view to the left was now the vast expanse of sand and rock that is revealed at low tide on the south eastern corner of Jersey. It is dangerous to head too far out onto this, because of the danger of being cut off, but there are low tide guided walks available, often described as moon walks, because the rocks are said to resemble the surface of the moon.
Another oddity is Seymour Tower. This tower was built on the rocks in 1792 and is located 2 miles off the coast of Jersey. Except that so large is the tidal range, it can still be walked too at low tide! Even better it is a holiday cottage and can be hired out, although it is quite pricey at £350 per night although it does sleep up to 7 and you are accompanied by a guide. I would like to do that at least for one night to be surrounded by water in your own tower would be a wonderful experience.
Continuing on the beach we pass another Martello Tower which has been converted to a private house. I guess the thick walls mean they were built to last, although this one has been clad in concrete and so was less attractive. Whether this was done during World War II or as part of a later conversion, I have no idea.
Soon we reached the far south east corner of the island, and the closest to Seymour Tower, La Rocque. Here there was yet another Martello Tower this one perched on a cliff top in what looks to be a stunning location. This too has been converted to residential use, but far more sympathetically with the only real clue a small conservatory at the bottom.
Reaching the corner, we stopped for one last view along the Royal Bay of Grouville and to Mont Orgueil Castle at the far end of the bay. This was certainly a heavily defended part of the coast presumably because it was closest to France. Not only is there the castle at the end, but two other forts along the bay (Fort William and Fort Henry) and 5 Martello Towers!
Rounding the corner, we were now in St Clements Bay, which had become rather more rocky.
Although there was still some hard sand just under the sea wall. Ahead is the small village of La Rocque, which also has a harbour and yes, another Martello Tower!
As there was also a little harbour and wall here we headed back onto the pavement beside the road and behind the harbour wall for this section. Although with the tide going out so far here, we wondered how often the harbour actually has water in, since all the boats were stuck on the sand.
The group on the beach I suspect might have been one of the guided walks over the rocks, perhaps to Seymour Tower. As my camera had a long zoom on it, I zoomed in and could just make out the tower, covered in scaffolding at the time. I wonder how easy it is to find a tradesman who is prepared to work out here – what with all the difficulties of getting materials and equipment out there and being stuck until the next low tide.
It was a pleasant little village with the attractive houses behind the road and sea wall. The sea wall had resumed again as this part of the coast had become more developed as we neared the capital, St Helier.
We soon passed another Martello Tower, this one with an unusual turreted building in front of it (it isn’t attached despite how it might look in the photo). We were now heading west along the south coast of the island, which is the most sheltered. Ahead the coast was becoming more rocky and the proximity to St Helier was soon obvious, with some ugly blocks of flats in the distance.
It made me think, Jersey has a lot of similarities with the mainland of the UK. For one like the UK, the majority of the population lives in the South East corner, which is the most sheltered but also the least rugged.
Still for now we could continue on sands between the areas of rocks.
Although not Seymour Tower (this one was round), I could spot another round tower out on the rocks in the bay. I think this is Icho Tower. This one is 1 1/4 miles out to sea and can again be reached on a guided walk. I zoomed in on it and here you can see it, it looks like there is a bit of vegetation around it, too.
It was getting a little trickier now to navigate between the rocks, but there was still enough sand to make it possible and we were keen to keep to the beach if possible, because to walk we would now be beside the busy A4.
As we neared Le Hocq, the rocks receded a bit and we were back to mostly sand.
Le Hocq also has a Martello Tower, so clearly the south coast of Jersey was also well defended, you can see it near the end of the beach, with the top painted white.
It was now an easy walk again over the sands and we were soon inline with the fort, reflecting in the wet sand.
Many of the towers on Jersey are painted like this, I presume it is so they are also able to aid navigation. Just out to sea were some more rocks, large enough to count as islands I expect, since they have vegetation on the top.
This is clearly not an easy coast to navigate a boat around! Once past the tower the coast was changing a bit, as the beach was starting to become more shingle than sand.
As we got further around the bay (Le Nez) it became sand again and there were a few houses facing onto the beach.
Out to sea it was once again very rocky.
Rounding the corner, we reached somewhere called Green Island. I’m sure you can work out why – there was a small island with some greenery on the top, hence Green Island.
Rounding the corner from Green Island that was the last rural stretch of coast, as we were now reaching the suburbs of St Helier, and it was now built up all the way to the capital. Thankfully though the beach had returned to good sand albeit with a bit of seaweed. We stuck close to the shore, the view inland was not great.
Ahead St Helier was now clear to see and the view was unfortunately rather dominated by a large industrial building, a power station I suspect. I suppose the island has to get it’s electricity somehow.
We made fairly rapid progress now, as the walking was easy and the path flat soon reaching Havre Des Pas, where there is a lido connected with a small pier.
Ahead is Fort Regent and beyond this the industrial dock area, which we were keen to avoid. So we cut a little inland here to reach the town centre. Neither me or Alex had been round the town, so we thought it worth spending a bit of time exploring. We went inside the indoor market for a drink and look around. It was a nice building, both inside and out.
Soon we had reached Liberation Square. Here there was a monument to the Liberation of Jersey at the end of World War II, as the island was occupied by the Germans for much of the war.
This was a pleasant part of the town and out to sea was a huge marina. I suppose this makes sense, being an island nation it has a strong connection with the sea and many of the residents are wealthy so need somewhere to park their yacht whilst at work!
We were now passing below Fort Regent which is a large and not very attractive leisure centre on top of the cliffs. We took the opportunity to head out onto one of the piers beside the harbour. The leisure centre is the white building on the top of the cliffs.
Rounding the corner we soon had blocks of modern flats, not especially attractive and like those found in many towns, but they must have good views.
On the left the view was dominated by more marinas. I began to wonder if there are as many boats in Jersey as people!
Soon though we had rounded the corner and were now on the edge of St Helier. I have to say I did not enjoy the stretch around St Helier particularly, the busy town was a bit of a shock after the quiet beauty of the rest of the island. Out to sea we could now see another impressive castle. This is Elizabeth Castle another large and impressive castle that like Mont Orguiel is also open to the public. As can be seen the tide had come in now, and the castle is located on an island that you can walk to at low tide, a bit like St Michaels Mount in Cornwall, but when the tide is in World War II DUKW is used to run a ferry out to the island.
We didn’t visit it, although I had been to it before on a previous visit to the islands, more or less 10 years previously. We soon reached Victoria Avenue the main road along the sea front west of St Helier. We are now rounding the large St Aubin’s Bay which heads west around from St Helier with the town of St Aubin at the other end of the bay. The road still had the green towers put up beside the road for the Battle of Flowers the previous day.
St Aubin’s bay is backed by a busy road, but it does have a wide promenade, so we weren’t bothered much by the traffic. You can see Elizabeth Castle, now receding into the distance here.
The coast was soon more peaceful as gardens separated us from the road and boats lined the beach to our left.
As we neared St Aubin we came across something unexpected, a sand scupltor in the process of making what I suspect would turn out to be an impressive sand castle.
Soon the sand ended as the tide had come in, so we had to keep to the promenade, which gave us a fine view back along the bay.
Soon we had reached the small town of St Aubin, at the other end of the bay. It too had a harbour, although it was less busy than at St Helier.
Like St Helier, St Aubin also has a castle out on an island at high tide but sadly I don’t think this one is open to the public and can’t really be seen behind the harbour until further round the coast. As it was now just after 5pm, we decided to call it a day and end our walk here. We had now covered the east coast and much of the south coast of the island, leaving the south west and west coasts for tomorrow.
It had been another enjoyable walk, seeing much of the history of the island and how it has been so heavily defended in the past. This was also an easy walk, much of it being on beaches and with views over the many rocks that head a couple of miles out to sea – it was fascinating to see this landscape that disappears under water twice a day. The area immediately around St Helier was less interesting however, being quite urban, but it is only a small section.
Here are the details of the public transport needed for this walk. If doing this as a linear walk, you will need to change buses in St Helier :-
Liberty Bus service 1/1G : St Helier Liberation Bus Station – La Collette – Havre des Pas – La Mare – Le Bourg – Grouville Station – Gorey Pier. 4 times per hour Monday – Saturday. Twice per hour on Sundays.
Liberty Bus Service 15 : St Helier Liberation Bus Station – First Tower – Beaumont – St Aubin – Rose Farm – Red Houses – Jersey Airport. 4 times per hour Monday – Saturday. Twice per hour on Sundays.