82. St Aubin to L’Etacq

August 2007

This was our last day of walking round Jersey and as had been the case with every other day we had been here it was another warm sunny day – we were truly spoilt with the weather.

This was an easy walk to start, as we only had to take a bus a few minutes down the road to St Aubin harbour, where we ended the previous day. We stopped to get lunch and ladle on the sun cream before setting off. The tide was out today so the harbour was not quite so pretty, being mostly sand and mud rather than water.

St Aubin Harbour

We set off taking the road along the back of the harbour. St Aubin is a pretty place with the harbour backed by mostly white painted houses, hotels and shops.

St Aubin Harbour

At the end of the harbour we had to leave the coast briefly, as there wasn’t a coast path, to head along the road closest to the sea, but it was not an especially busy road, but the woodland to our left limited views of the sea. Our minor road joined the slightly busier B57 but soon we could turn left off this onto a path back along the coast. We could look back at the coast we had walked past and looking at the tide being low I wondered if it might have been possible to walk along the shore instead. In any case, it is a nice beach, this is Belcroute Bay.

Belcroute Bay, Jersey

Out in the bay we could now clearly St Aubin’s fort, another fort located out in the sea and making an island at low tide, as it is cut off by the sea.

St Aubin's Fort, Jersey

The beach we had reached was mostly shingle and we could see round to the far end of St Aubin’s Bay, though sadly the power station chimney was rather dominant at the far end, St Helier.

The path soon climbed up, as we had been back at sea level and emerged onto an area of grass overlooking St Aubin’s Bay.

St Aubin's Bay

We now had a good path ahead out to the end of the first headland, Noirmont. The path soon had gorse and heather alongside and looking ahead there was another World War II lookout building at the end of the headland.

Approaching Noirmont, Jersey

In fact there were several forts here and the first one we encountered still had the gun in place (or rather I suspect it has been restored and returned).

Noirmont, Jersey

Looking ahead there was another lookout and the car park at Noirmont Point.  We followed the path out to this and soon had a glimpse of one of my favourite locations on Jersey, Portelet Bay. I came to Jersey before on a holiday with my parents, probably about 10 years prior to this and remember spending a very happy day on the beach at Portelet, which was a remote and very beautiful bay. It was looking just as I remembered it.

Portelet Bay

At the south east corner of the point, we came to another World War II fort again with a rusty gun still  in place and below was a much older fort, a Martello Tower this one being painted black and white, presumably as an aid to navigation.

Noirmont Point

The headland was quite high and opened up a view over much of the coast we had walked the previous day, with the bay beyond St Helier now visible.

We continued around the headland and at it’s far southern most point is a very complete and much larger World War II fort. Those Germans certainly spent a lot on fortifying the place! What was nice is that you can walk freely around the site.

Noirmont Command Bunker

On reaching the end we also had a magnificent view of Portelet Bay. You can now make out the feature I remembered best about the bay from my first visit, the little tidal island in the middle. I remember wading out to this as the tide began to recede, not realising it would be walkable once the tide went out further! On top of the island is another Martello Tower too.

Portelet Bay

We could follow the path around to roughly the most south-western point of the headland where there was a rocky headland almost forming another tiny tidal island.

Ile Percee

However the view ahead was even better, with a view over Portelet Bay. I was surprised how few people were on the beach, I remember it being quite busy when we were there before.

Portelet Bay

We followed heading around towards the bay. As we were walking here, the Condor Express passed by. This was one of two ferries (the other being Condor Vitesse) Condor Ferries used to operate between the UK, and Channel Islands and it looked busy, with lots of people on deck. It was a good ship, so it is rather a shame Condor sold it earlier this year, replacing it with a single ship.

Condor Express passes Portelet Bay

We passed behind a house and then reached the steps down to the beach, by the Old Portelet Inn. The temperature had increased, as it was now mid-morning. I was keen to visit the beach but Alex was finding it a bit hot and decided to give it a miss. So I left him on a shady seat, as I took the steps down to the beach.

Portelet Bay

Of course, when I was down there I couldn’t resist walking out to the tidal island and climbing to the top. Here is the view from it back over the bay.

Portelet Bay

I didn’t want to hang around too long though, concious Alex was waiting for me at the top of the steps, so I soon left my little island and headed back up the steps to the cliff top.

We then resumed our walk around the coast. We had to follow roads around the back of the beach for a while before we could pick up another coastal path, this one out to Portelet Common, giving fine views of the rugged and rocky coast.

Portelet Common

Once on the common there was a good path around the coast and we soon had another good view to the fine sweep of Ousaine Bay ahead. There are two beaches here, the nearest, Ousaine and the furthest being St Brelade’s Bay, but unless it is high tide they are joined and essentially one beach.

Ousaine Bay

The coast path around here was lovely, heading through gorse and heather, with numerous granite rocky crags too. We were soon above the rocky beach at the far end of Ousaine, and decided to stop here for an early lunch, as it was just after midday.

We found a good place to sit on the grass and take in the view.

After lunch we were feeling a little more adventurous and decided to drop down to the beach and make our way round to Ousaine and St Brelade along the shoreline. This time we could see it was clear, so we didn’t have to try and climb up cliffs as we did the last time we attempted a walk at the base of cliffs.

Having said that, once we got to beach level it was clearly not going to be that easy.

Ousaine Bay

Alex was better over the rocks than me and was soon taking the lead, which was useful for me as I could leave him to work out a route!

Ousaine Bay

There was some unusual geology here too, we were trying to work out what might have caused this rocky little island to be like this.

Ousaine Bay

Soon we had made it over the rocks and had the long expanse of hard sand ahead to walk on, it was lovely.

Ousaine Bay

St Brelade is probably the largest resort on the island, although it is still not that big. Behind the beach was another of the Martello Towers, this one painted in red and white stripes.

St Brelade's Bay

Soon I took my shoes off and was walking in the edge of the sea. It was a hot day and the sea was lovely and cooling. The water in Jersey too is always so clear.

St Brelade's Bay

It was a lovely walk in the edge of the sea which we could follow for a mile or so to the far end of the beach. This western end of the beach was proving far more popular and was now getting quite crowded.

St Brelade's Bay

At the end of the bay was a harbour and we could then follow the coast by taking a road up away from the far end of the beach past a little church and through woodland to the small bay of Bouilly Port. It didn’t look much of a port, but presumably it must have been in the past.

Bouilly Port, Jersey

Sadly the road ahead turned out to be a dead-end, as perhaps should have been clear had we looked at the map. But at least they had an amusing sign to tell us!

End of the road

So we had to head back past the church.

Church above St Brelade's Bay

Once back to the church, we could now take a coastal path which quickly gained height and emerged onto open land higher up, above the cliffs.

This gave us a good view back over the beautiful sweeping St Brelade’s Bay. We had become quite familiar with this bay during our stay, as it was only a fairly short walk from our campsite, or at least it was on the way there when it was all down hill, but it was a steep climb back up!

St Brelade's Bay

At the top of the headland there was a car park and a dead-end path down to another beach. This is Beauport and it was another excellent beach with the low tide revealing a sheltered sandy beach with rocks on either side, making it quite a sun trap.

Beauport, Jersey

Once again I headed to the waters edge for a refreshing paddle – the cliffs to my right were quite high, so I knew it would be a climb back out of the bay, and we were nearing the hottest part of the day now.

Beauport, Jersey

Suitably refreshed, we left the beach and took the steps back up to the top of those high cliffs I had seen from the beach. It did give us a good view back to Beauport however so it was worth the climb.

Beauport, Jersey

We walked out to the end of the headland, and then took the good path which headed west through the gorse and bracken. Below us we had the rocky beach at Fiquet.

Fiquet Bay, Jersey

The path then turned a little inland to pass the walls of the islands prison, HMP La Moye. On the western side of the prison, we could leave the wall and turn left to head back over lovely common ground covered in heather and gorse to pass a radar tower, at least I presume that is what it is. This was another area of protected ground, I think owned by the National Trust for Jersey, with a network of paths over it, called La Landes do Ouest. This was a hint we were nearing the far south west point of the island. I commented last time, but there are similarities with the UK, with the south east of Jersey being the most populated and the south west, rugged and with many beautiful beaches, like the South West of England.

We could now see Corbiere Lighthouse ahead, a bit like the Jersey version of Lands End, but without the Theme Park that Lands End has.

La Landes du Ouest

It was a lovely walk over the rocky heather covered cliffs, which seemed to be at about their best at this time of year, with the heather and gorse both in flower. We were finding it hot though, particularly Alex, as the ground was uneven and there was no shade, and we were now in the hottest part of the day.

It is certainly rugged and there were a few other man made structures at the bottom of some of the headlands. I’m not sure if these are defensive or had a more industrial use.

Corbiere Common

We took the low level path down to explore these and the first of them had an old railway line heading down to it. An ammunition store perhaps? Not sure.

Building on the coast

The downside with coming down to see this is we had to go back up again. Well there is one easy way we could get back up.

Railway tracks up the cliff

Job done.

Railway tracks up the cliff

Back on the coast path we continued west with another World War II tower visible on the horizon ahead. Before we reached that though there was another little rocky bay to traverse, this is La Rosiere.

La Rosiere, Jersey

There were a lot of steps down and back up again, as it is in quite a valley. Once at the top though we could see the La Corbeire Lighthouse. This is on it’s own tidal island, linked with a causeway at low tide. A bell rings as the tide is coming back in meaning if you have walked out to the lighthouse you must return immediately to avoid getting cut off.

Corbiere Lighthouse, Jersey

We passed under the World War II tower, it was quite tall and those three levels of lookout gave it quite a sinister look.

La Corbiere Radio Tower

Interestingly looking back it has obviously been modernised for some further use it looks a bit like an aircraft control tower now, although I don’t know if it actually is.

La Corbiere Radio Tower

We now followed the path down to the cliffs and the start of the causeway out to the lighthouse. We could see though that it was now already beginning to be covered by the sea, so we would not be able to get out to it.

Corbiere Lighthouse

We returned from this dead-end path out to the lighthouse passing what I originally thought was some artwork but it in fact was a a memorial to an incident that had occurred 12 years previously (in 1995) when the French catamaran St Malo ran aground on rocks here on it’s way between Jersey and Sark, and began taking on water. The Emergency services responded however and all passengers and crew were rescued.

Onwards we now had to follow the road north which descended down to another small beach, Petit Port.

Petit Port, Jersey

This is a mixture of sand and rock and not as inviting as other beaches we had passed. We didn’t go down to it but followed the path around the back of the beach. It then climbed around a little headland to reveal the expanse of St Ouen’s Bay ahead.

St Ouen's Bay

This wonderful beach occupies most of the west coast of the island and is also an indication that we were nearing the end of our walk, as we had started at the northern end of the beach.

In the middle was another Martello Tower located on an island, as at Portelet, but I am not sure if the tide goes far enough out to make it possible to walk to this one.

St Ouen's Bay

There is a road now all the way along the back of the beach, known by the un-official name Five Mile Road, but it isn’t in fact 5 miles, it is probably little more than half that. Rather than stick to the road though we headed down onto the beautiful sands.

St Ouen's Bay

It was an easy stroll now and although the south end of the beach had some slightly coarse sand it soon got finer as we headed north and so I soon took my shoes and socks off again to walk in the edge of the beach. We were nearing the end of the walk now and I was feeling both sad and happy, sad that it was nearly over but happy that we had achieved the milestone of walking around this beautiful island.

St Ouen's Bay

We soon passed level with the fort now and the sizeable waves meant it was certainly not safe to try and get out there.

Martello Tower off St Ouen's Bay

The beach was now getting quite busy, presumably many of the islands and holiday makers heading down here to enjoy the beautiful beach and with the road all along the back, there is easy access.

St Ouen's Bay

We continued on the beach, me taking far too many photos of the waves and beach. Being west facing, the waves here are the biggest on the island and so it proves a popular surfing spot, like many of the west facing beaches in the UK do.

St Ouen's Bay

Soon though we came across a bit of a problem.

St Ouen's Bay

The tide was coming in quite fast and had now reached the sea wall at the back of the beach. Although some kids were making a dash along it and getting pretty wet in the process we decided against it (not least I would likely get water in my camera!). So we took the steps up back to the road.

This took us past an unusual and presumably very old hut which had been pressed into service as a towel rail!

St Ouen's Bay

We continued along the path beside the road watching the sea now splashing up the wall.

As we got a bit further north along the beach there was soon some sand again so we were able to drop back off the wall and back along the beach.

St Ouen's Bay

Zooming in I could see the lighthouse at Corbiere standing guard at the far end of the bay.

St Ouen's Bay

Pretty soon we were approaching L’Etacq, where we had started our walk a few days previously – the end in sight.

St Ouen's Bay

It was now just a short walk away along the beach. It was a lovely and very relaxing end to the walk. As we were approaching the evening now the sun was getting lower in the sky and the temperature had dropped a little, as well as a welcome breeze. It was a wonderful end to the day and our walk.

St Ouen's Bay

We soon reached the end of the beach and had a short walk along the road to reach the bus stop where we had begun our walk, and now ended it.

All that was left was to take a photo looking back along the beach.

IMG_9058

It had been a truly memorable day with some of the best sights of the island. We had past so many good beaches on the way we were spoiled for choice and passed the impressive and rugged granite cliffs around Corbiere. The final walk along miles of glorious sandy beach was I think the best way to finish and I think we picked our start point well so that our last few miles were along a beautiful sandy beach.

We then took the bus back to St Aubin and from there back to our campsite.

Happily, although we had reached the end of the coast and therefore seen all of the islands coast, we had one more day on Jersey before we had to head home.

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 at Jersey Airport :-

Liberty Bus route 15St 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.

Liberty Bus route 22 : St Helier Liberation Bus Station – First Tower – Beaumont – Jersey Airport – Red Houses – La Corbiere – Route de Petit Port – La Pulente – El Tico – L’Etacq. Once every 2 hours Monday – Saturday (approx) and 4 times a day on Sundays.

Here is the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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