The Joys of Jersey

Jersey  12 – 19 May, 2012

Since discovering Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, I have been lucky enough to undertake a number of superb walks in wonderful destinations including Italy, Poland and also my own country’s Cotswold Way.

All have been brilliantly led and managed – and amazingly good value for an old chap like me on a pension. This year I decided to book three more walking holidays – the first being to Jersey, where I had never been before.

After an easy journey from Gatwick Airport to Jersey International Airport I found my Ramblers Worldwide Holidays contact at the airport and my transport to The Uplands Hotel in St. Helier.

Slowly our group of intrepid walkers began to get to know each other and as usual it emerged what a fascinating group of people we were – all with interesting stories to tell about our lives and all still with plans and dreams for our futures.

The first day saw us walking to the truly sophisticated and beautiful St. Brelade’s Bay, then on to the Corbiere Headland, then following the old railway line route to St. Aubin’s Harbour. A highlight of the day for me, as a resident of Nottingham, was finding the grave of a number of members of the Boot family, who started and expanded the Boots chain of chemists from a base in Nottingham.

 

Another day saw another fascinating find: the La Hougue Bie Museum, the site of a Neolithic burial chamber covered by a significant mound of earth. It was still possible to crawl down into the chamber, which is reputed to be one of the best-preserved chambers of its type in Europe.

The area was also a place where the German Occupiers of Jersey built a look-out facility during World War II. Fortunately their occupation did not appear to have caused any harm to the historical site or the old church perched on top of the mound.

From the museum, which sold the cheapest but amongst the best coffee in Jersey, we set off and walked alongside the reservoir at Queens Valley to finish our walk at Mont Orguell Castle. I was beginning to recognise, with some delight, that our leader had arranged each of our walks so that we could all enjoy morning afternoon coffee breaks with cakes.

During the walks I had some challenging discussions with a lady from Scotland about the relationship between the Scots and the English but no matter our differences of opinion we finished our week in Jersey as firm friends.

There was also a man who supported a football team other than Arsenal – I think it was called Carlisle United – but again we spent much time each day enjoying talking about football, life and rock and roll.

I think for me, that as on all my previous trips with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, listening, talking and laughing with members of the group was in many ways as interesting and as much fun as the walk itself.

Our fourth day in Jersey was a free day where I was faced with the problem of having to make some decisions for myself – that was going to be tough. After much deliberation and asking those of our party who had spent time at Jersey Tunnels on the day before, it was to the Jersey Tunnels that I went, alone.

It seems the tunnels were constructed to be a hospital for injured German soldiers but had never been used. It was also clear that the complex of tunnels had never been finished as some tunnels had been left only partly excavated.

They were worth the visit and assisted me in appreciating how much the people of Jersey had gone through during the German Occupation. It was a morning well spent.

As I walked out of the tunnels the sun was shining, so I headed off for the beach at St.Helier with a newspaper, sandwiches and a drink to enjoy the afternoon on the beach. When I had finished reading the newspaper, I passed the afternoon watching the elevated buggy take tourists out along the sea-covered causeway to Elizabeth Castle. How did the buggy driver know where the causeway was when it was covered by the tide?

 

Our fifth day’s walk commenced at Greve de Lecq – a small bay on the north side of the Island. We headed off westward along the coastal path with a landscape that reminded me so much of the north Devon section of the wonderful South-West Coastal Path. The scenery was rugged but terrific and it was yet again a perfect day’s walking.

As I write this I have no idea where we ended up but I had absolute confidence in our leader’s ability to get us eventually safely back to our hotel. I seem to recall that we stopped for an excellent afternoon coffee and cake at an establishment that also made and sold pearl jewellery. Thank goodness my wife does not like jewellery or I would have felt duty bound to take her some home – it looked expensive!

Our final day’s walking began at some wonderful tea rooms at a small bay to the east of the Island called Rozel Bay. The walk took us in a southerly direction and partly inland to the start of a wooded valley that headed down to St.Catrherine’s Bay.

The wooded valley was quite simply one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever walked down and the properties carefully hidden away on the sides of the valley were of a type that most people would dream about owning. Our journey took us on to Mont Orguell Castle, and then back by bus to our hotel.

It was a terrific week made especially successful by the fact that our group of walkers bonded so well. It has to be said that my experience is that on every walk I have been on with Ramblers Worldwide Holidays thus far the groups have all got on so well together – and there lies one of the secrets of great walking holidays. I look forward to my next ramble.