95. Torteval to Grandes Rocques Bay

July 2012

This is my second walk around the coast of Guernsey and this time I am taking in the rest of the south coast, west coast and part of the north coast.

From the campsite I was staying at I headed down the road to St Andrews Church, a 15 minutes walk, to take the bus back to Torteval. I had to remember where I got to the previous evening but thankfully the garage where I finished the last walk was visible over the hedges, so I was able to get off at the right stop and re-trace my steps back to the coast path, where I left it.

It was a little after half past nine when I reached the point I had left the coast path the previous day. Today it was a warm and dry day, but a bit overcast. I returned to the path at Le Creux Mahie. Once again, I was impressed with this rugged and beautiful coast.

Le Creux Mahie, Torteval, Guernsey

The coast path west of here was again excellent although there were quite a few steps to negotiate. I had a good view ahead of the coast to come, looking to Pleinmont Head.

View round to Les Kaines d'Aval, Guernsey

The cliffs ahead were now greener, with grass, bracken and gorse growing, other than on the near vertical slopes. Presumably it is more sheltered and the waves less severe.

Torteval

It was great walking along these wild cliff tops and I was surprised how few other people I saw. I rounded a couple of rocky bays and soon reached a little rocky promentary at Le Long Cavaleux. Here the sea had cut a natural arch through the cliff and I could watch the waves passing through it now.

Les Raimes d'Aval

There was no access to these beaches, but the coast path was magnificent sticking right to the cliff top. I could look back and just make out La Corbeiere behind me now. Looking ahead a line of foam marked where the waves had been crashing into the cliffs, whilst on the headland ahead there was another World War II bunker, this one marked as Watch House on my map.

Mont Herault, Guernsey

I soon reached the headland and reached this Watch House. It was certainly a brutal structure, ugly concrete with 4 slits in it. The lower levels had white paint on them I’m not sure if this was from World War II or something done later. As I said last time I’m rather glad these structures have been kept. They are ugly, but they are also I feel an important part of the recent history of the islands.

It was a short walk onwards rounding the small bay where I could take a look back at the rugged and eroded coast, with that ugly World War II building on the top. A truly impressive bit of coast.

Munt Herault, Guernsey

There was a car park at this watch tower, so the path was a bit busier. A few metres further along, I came to another relic from World War II. This one was a gun still in it’s original bunker and obviously been recently resotored. I’m not sure if that is the paint job it would have carried in World War II or not, but it certainly looked good. Another poignant reminder.

Gun on Pleinmont Headland, Guernsey

I was now turning the corner, nearing the south western point of the island and beginning to turn north. Ahead I had the spectacular Pleinmoint Point which is I think the most westerly point of the island. Tempting paths run right to the end of the headland and if you look closely out to sea you can probably spot a lighthouse out on the rocks. This is Hanois Lighthouse and it was built in 1848. Like all the Lighthouses in the UK, it is fully automated. It must have been a bleak (and I suspect scary) place to live in the winter. It was installed to save lives as the rocks around here are treacherous for shipping, and there have been many shipwrecks here over the years.

Pleinmont Point, Guernsey

It was a lovely view from the top of the cliffs here and I headed right out to the end. Ahead the coast was becoming gentler. The south coast of Guernsey is rocky and rugged, with mostly shingle and rocky beaches. But as I head north it start to become gentler with better beaches. Out to sea I could the north west corner of Guernsey (L’Eree) and the tidal island of Lihou Island beyond. I was hoping to visit the latter, but I could see at the moment it was certainly and island, so the causeway would be covered (it does not have a ferry).

You might notice light colours on the paths below the headland. These were workers, from the Council I presume, cutting back the bushes and keeping the path in good condition. I had heard some grumbles from other walkers about the condition of some of the paths on the island but I had found them to be very good, so it was encouraging to see hard work being put in to keep the paths so good.

Pleinmont point

It was now a fairly steep drop down from the cliffs at Pleinmont through the bracken and onto the much lower cliffs, as I neared Portelet Harbour. I noticed this was now the second place I had passed which had an identically named counterpart on Jersey.

Pezeries Point, Guernsey

The coast ahead was now becoming gentler, there was even a car park ahead!

Pezeries Point, Guernsey

This is Pezeries Point and before it there was a small bay with a wall behind it and bricks built out onto the rocks on the beach, I suspect the remains of an old harbour, but it didn’t seem to be used anymore.

Pezeries Point, Guernsey

Although the cliffs were still quite high, the path had now dropped right down to almost sea level. A jetty headed down from the road here into the sea but it looked quite a rocky place to try launching a boat.

Portelet Harbour, Guernsey

At the end of Pezeries Point was another fort, but this one was clearly much older than World War II. This is Fort Pezeries. A fort has stood here since 1680. It was strengthened and expanded in the 19th Century with the threat of French invasion and was built to prtoect the south edge of the large Rocquane Bay.

Portelet Harbour, Guernsey

Like most of the forts on Guernsey, it is free to walk around. From here onwards the path had now given way to a minor road. but it was very little used (as it is a dead-end). This made for easy walking and I soon rounded the corner to the small Portlet Harbour.

Portelet Harbour, Guernsey

Here a few small boats were still using the harbour with the beaches beyond a mixture of sand and rock. This also marked a change as I could now see houses lining the coast beyond – a shock after the pleasant rural south coast. It is perhaps less surprsing when you consider Guernsey is the 14th most densley populated place in the world. When you consider those above it include Monaco, Hong Kong and Singapore it is perhaps all the more surprising that so much of the coast is unspoilt and undevloped.

I followed the road behind the beach here. At low tide this merges with the larger Rocquaine Bay to the north, but at the state of the tide on this day it was still a seperate beach. It was a nice tree-lined beach but the sea weed meant it was not looking it’s best.

Portelet Harbour, Guernsey

Rounding the corner I was suddenly back at civilisation! There was a car park, toilets and a cafe. I stopped at the latter for an ice cream as a reward for my efforts so far!

Sadly this marked the end of the coast path for a while. The west coast of the island has a road right along it, and quite a busy road at that. Sadly for the most part it lacked a pavement, so I had to walk in the edge of the road. I was hoping I might be able to walk along the beach, but I could see the sea was reaching the wall ahead, so that was not an option.

Le Crocq du Sud

So I stuck to the edge of the road, but thankfully the traffic was giving me enough space. Rounding this area of rocks, the stretch of beach ahead was larger, so I decided to head down onto this one, to escape the road.

Le Crocq du Sud

Ahead you might be able to make out another island. This was really just some rocks, but in 1804 a Martello Tower was built on the rocks, making it an island. This is Fort Grey and it now houses an interesting ship wreck museum. It can be reached along a causeway which is only covered at very high tide.

At the end of the beach I had to take the steps back up to the road again, as the sea had reached the sea wall that protects the road and houses behind. Ahead I had a good view of Fort Grey.

Fort Grey

It is known as the Cup and Saucer, and you can see why. Soon I was alongside the fort and looking out at the Causeway.

Fort Grey

I was tempted to visit but was not sure I could really spare the time, so I didn’t (but I came back to visit it another time). Beyond the fort I was once again walking on the road but after a while, there was a grassy area left of the road on top of the sea wall, with a gravel path along it, which made for a more pleasant walk.

Rocquaine Bay

At some point the beach had changed name to L’Eree Bay and soon there was enough of an expanse of sand ahead (and a handy slipway) t0 tempt me back onto the beach. This is more like it, just the sound of the waves again, rather than traffic.

L'Eree Bay

It was a pleasant route but soon I was nearing the end of the beach and L’Eree. Guernsey is much wider than it is tall, and so I was now approaching L’Eree, the north western corner of the island. Here I returned to the path behind the road, on top of the sea wall.

L'Eree Bay

At the northern end of the bay was a car park and toilet and beyond that is L’Eree headland. This is a rocky little headland with another German World War II tower on it. Unusually, this one is private and the buildings around it have been converted to a private home! I am not sure if part of the tower has been, too. The headland is rounded by a one-way road which does not get much traffic, so I could follow this out to the end of the headland. I was surprised to come across an old tomb (burial chamber) that had been built into the cliffs.

IMG_9678

At the furthest point of the road there is a car park and a causeway out to Lihou Island. This is a tidal island and is owned by the States of Guernsey, who purchased it in 1995. There is a single building on the island, and the ruins of a priory. The building is still maintained and used and I think can be let out for groups and functions. There are safe crossing times published, but I was surprised to note that there are only safe crossing for roughly 2 weeks out of every month, such is the tidal range of the island. I was also disappointed to notice the last one was on the Saturday when I had arrived and the next day it was possible to visit was in nearly 2 weeks time! I had hoped to visit the island, but had not realised the opening was so restricted.

I sat here and ate lunch, wondering if they had got it wrong and the tide would go out enough to reveal the causeway.

Lihou Island

It was a nice spot for lunch with a view over the sand and shingle beach at the end of the headland.

L'Eree Headland

Sadly, and not unexpectedly, the causeway had not cleared by the time I finished lunch, so I had to conclude that I was not going to make it out to Lihou Island, a shame.

Lihou Island

So I continued on the road, passing another old fort, this one Fort Saumarez.

Fort Saumarez at L'Eree Headland

Rounding the corner I reached a little harbour and beyond that, the unusual L’Eree Shingle Bank, which is classed as a nature reserve.

L'Eree Headland

Once more there was no coast path and the road ran right along the coast, so I diverted down onto the beach, although it was a bit hard work.

L'Eree Headland

At the end was a little headland which gave fine views back to L’Eree headland.

View back to L'Eree Headland Fort Saumarex

Just off to my left was another interesting feature. A rocky and pebble par that lead out to another little island (or islet). However it was really just rocks, with a tiny bit of green on the top. I decided not to try and walk out over the rocks to it, as it didn’t look as if there was anything much to see.

IMG_9697

Beyond it was another little bay, Haute Banque I think it’s called. It was a mixture of sand, shingle and rocks backed by a low stone wall and houses.

Perelle Bay

At the end of the bay was a little car park and I then rounded the corner into the larger Perelle Bay.

Perelle Bay

Again there is no coast path here so I initially had to follow the fairly busy road. Soon though it became sand and shingle, and I was able to drop down onto the beach.

Perelle Bay

It was a bit of an awakward walk in places, with the lose shingle and also some odd pipes to dodge. I think these drain water from the road down onto the beach, although a larger one perhaps carried a stream, I’m not sure.

Perelle Bay, Guernsey

The north end of this beach is called Richmond, not to be confused with the rather expensive part of London. Beyond it, is another headland, which houses another fort, this one Fort Richmond.

The beach soon became shingle again making for harder going. I stuck with it though and at the end of the beach, I was able to continue along the shoreline around the headland at Richmond, which was good, because it didn’t have a path.

Perelle Bay, Guernsey

I soon regretted this decision though as the shore became rocky. It was awkward and tiring climbing over all the rocks, many of which were lose. So it came as a relief when I rounded the corner to beautiful Vazon Bay.

Vazon Bay

This is one of the best beaches on the island. There is a wide expanse of sand, particularly at low tide and beautiful clear water. I had been here more than 10 years previously, and I remembered it as quite a busy beach, but it was almost deserted now. I suppose it was a cloudy day and outside of the school holidays, which might have explained it.

It was a nice walk arond the beach on the firm sand.

Perelle Bay

At the far end there is another little headland, Hommet Headland. Here there was a path up and the height gained gave me a good view back to Vazon Bay.

Perelle Bay

There was also a path out to the end of this headland, and a road. I followed it and was glad I did so as it bought me to an interesting fort. This is Fort Hommet.

Fort Richmond, Guernsey

As you can see it is freely accessible and this man (and, I presume, his son) were wandering about on the top of it. But here a much older fort was adapted by the Germans During World War II, so now the original fort has some rather ugly concrete extensions!

Ahead there was another little rocky bay, Albecq.

IMG_9742

I followed the path from the headland to the road and then followed the road around the back of Albecq.

Vazon Bay

This is a pleasant little bay and the coast was now becoming very rocky again. The weather too was picking up, with some blue sky coming across.

Vazon Bay

I continued along the road here and soon reached another of the best beaches on the island, Cobo Bay.

Cobo Bay

The sea was shallow here and the sun coming over the sea was turning it into a beautiful turquoise colour, it was wonderful.

The beach was soon beginning to look almost tropical.

Cobo Bay

It really is a stunning beach. And again, it was totally deserted! I walked along the firm sands as much as possible, but as I headed north it started to become a bit rocky and pebbley again, a shame.

Cobo Bay

This was thankfully only a temporary change for once past an area of rocks the beach continued as sand. I think here it changes name too, and is now Saline Bay – not the most imaginative of names for a beach really! It’s beautiful, though.

Cobo Bay

It was back to walking on the lovely unspoilt white sands. I continued to the far end of the beach and the headland. Here there is another handy cafe and another little fort.

Cobo Bay

I walked around to the end of this for a view back over Saline Bay and Cobo Bay.

Saline Bay, Guernsey

I also had a good look ahead, where the coast returns to being rocky and rugged again.

Saline Bay, Guernsey

There was another bit of a fort out here again with an original building and a World War II addition. I had a look in this and decided to finish the walk for the day here.

I spent an hour relaxing on this beautiful beach as the weather began to pick up.

Saline Bay, Guernsey

Saline Bay, Guernsey

I looked around to see if there were any options for dinner around, but there was nothing that appealed particularly. So I headed back to St Peter Port. Thankfully there was a direct bus from Grandes Rocques back to St Peter Port, so it was only a short journey. From here once I had had dinner I took the bus back to the campsite.

This was a really enjoyable walk. The first part was really glorious along the wonderful rocky, rugged south coast of the island. The second part had more road walking but I managed to find routes along the beaches for most of it and some of the beaches were stunning, with Cobo a particular favourite of mine. So although quite long it was not that difficult a walk and I think it works better this way as you get the more rugged difficult paths done first and the easier flatter part of the coast for the afternoon.

Here are the details of the public transport needed for this walk.

Guernsey Buses routes 91 and 92 run a circular route around most of the islands coast. The 91 goes clockwise, the 92 anti-clockwise. It is quicker to take the 91 but you could take the 92 if you want a scenic route (both cost £1).

Route 91 : St Peter Port Town Terminus – Trinity Square – Fermain – Sausmarez Manor – Old Mill – St Martins – Airport – Torteval ChurchPleinmont – Fort Grey – L’Eree – Perelle Bay – Vazon Bay – Cobo Bay – Grandes Rocques – Port Soif – La Passee – Les Vardes – Houmet Tavern – L’Islet – Vale (Church) – Pembroke Bay – L’Ancresse – Bordeaux Harbour – The Bridge – Halfway – St Peter Port Town Terminus. It takes around 30 minutes from St Peter Port to Torteval. It takes around 25 minutes from Torteval to Grandes Rocques, and it takes 40 minutes from there back to St Peter Port. The bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday in the winter and 5 times a day on Sundays, but I think it is more frequent in summer.

Route 92 : St Peter Port Town Terminus – Halfway – The Bridge – Bordeaux Harbour – L’Ancresse – Pembroke Bay – Vale Church – L’Islet – Les Vardes – La Passee – Port Soif – Grandes Rocques – Cobo Bay – Vazon Bay – Perelle Bay – L’Eree – Fort Grey – Pleinmont – Torteval Church – Les Landes – Airport – St Martins Village – Sausmarez Manor – Fermain – St Peter Port Town Terminus. This bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday and once every two hours on a Sunday although I think this might increase in the summer. It follows the same route as the 91, but in reverse.

Route 93 provides an alternative between St Peter Port and Torteval : L’Eree – Fort Grey – Pleinmont – Torteval Church – Les Landes – Airport – St Martins Village – Sausmarez Manor – Fermain – Trinity Square – St Peter Port (Town Terminus). This route runs once every two hours seven days a week and takes around 30 minutes to reach St Peter Port.

In addition there is a direct bus back from Grandes Rocques to the town. Route 41 : St Peter Port Town Terminus – Grangetop – Rohais – L’Aumone – Saumarez Park – Hogue du Pommier – Port Soif – Grandes Rocques – Lilyvale – Saumarez Park – Rohais – Grangetop – St Peter Port Town Terminus. This runs twice an hour Monday – Saturday and hourly on Sundays. From Grandes Rocques to the town, it takes 20 minutes.

Here are the photos from this walk : Main Link | Slideshow.

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