Alderney - Guernsey - Sark - Herm - Jersey Coast Guide
The Channel Islands* are a group of five small islands, around sixty odd miles south of Weymouth, on the English coast. In spite of being much closer to France; around 15 miles in the case of Alderney, the islands have been British territories since the twelfth century. The two main islands of Jersey and Guernsey are very popular holiday destinations for the British but they also attract tourists from all over the world. There are numerous ferry links to both the UK and France and there are air links to Alderney, Guernsey and Jersey.
Mont Orgueil Castle Jersey
For details of Jersey and Guernsey Hotels and Holidays, Guest Houses, Cottages and to visit Attractions. Go to Jersey Guernsey Hotels Guest Houses and Cottages
Alderney is the third largest island of the group but is quite small, measuring around 3.5 miles by 1.5 miles. It has a population of around 2500, who are mostly located in the main town St Anne.
The island is also a bit isolated as it has no regular ferry service operating from the mainland or from the other islands. The main means of transport is via air links which run to Jersey and Guernsey and to Bournemouth on the mainland. Although there are now daily flights into the island from Southampton, Shoreham (Brighton International), and Bournemouth. Check with airports for schedule.
Oddly enough, as Alderney gets relatively few visitors, it is one of the best defended places in the UK with an amazing 13 forts along its coast. The reason for these fortifications, of course was the fear of French invasion during the nineteenth century. The island is only a cannon ball shot or two from the French coast.
The island has some excellent beaches and beautiful scenery you should book accommodation in advance.
Guernsey is the second largest island with a population of around 60,000 and is the second most popular holiday destination of the group. Life centres on St Peter Port which is the main town and port. Here you can catch ferries to the smaller islands of Herm and Sark.
The island has some dramatic scenery, with towering cliffs and sandy beaches along its western coast. Recommended beaches are at Cobo and Pembroke.
Guernsey's most famous son is Victor Hugo, the French writer, who was exiled to the island in 1856 when Napoleon III took over France. He stayed until 1870, living in Hautville House, which is now a visitor centre and open to the public on most days. The Channel Islands were occupied by Germany during World War II and there are still many reminders of this event dotted around the island, including the Underground Hospital which was built by slave labour to house injured German soldiers.
As you would expect Guernsey has some great beaches, these are mostly located on the islands north coast. At the eastern end of the island is Pembroke Bay, which is north east facing, nearby is Le Grand Harve, a large sandy beach. Further to the west are Saline and Cobo Bay, both are sandy and have beach facilities. Next is Vazon Bay and at the western end of the island you will find the huge L'eree Bay which joins up with Rocquaine Bay, there are beach cafes at either end of the beach. The nearest beaches to St. Peter Port are Petit Bot Bay and Moulin Huet Bay - situated about 2 miles from the town.
Places to visit on Guernsey
Guernsey Aquarium - La Vallette, St Peter Port, GY1 1AX Phone: (01481) 723301
Beau Sejour Leisure Center - Amherst, St Peter Port GY1 2DL Phone: 01481 12050
Pleinmont Headland - Cliff walk and bird watching
Victor Hugo's Garden - Hauteville House, 38 Hauteville Street, St Peter Port GY1 1DG Phone: (0)1481 721911
Castle Cornet - 12th century castle with three museums inside plus gardens outside. Castle Emplacement, St Peter Port, Guernsey GY1 1AU Phone: (0)1481 721657
This tiny island is one of the smallest occupied islands within the UK with a population of just 115. It is situated some five miles from Guernsey and can be reached by ferry in about 20 minutes. After that you walk - there are no wheeled vehicles on the island - not even bicycles are allowed!
There are limited facilities on the island but you can stay at the campsite or at the grand sounding, White House Hotel. There is also a pub - the Mermaid Tavern - so you've got somewhere to relax after you've walked around the island - it takes about two hours and is well worth the effort!
Sark is positively heaving with people compared with its smaller neighbour - with a population of nearly 600 people. It is also about three times the size of Herm, so its not really overcrowded. Daily ferries operate from St Peter Port to the island - the journey takes about 45 minutes. Sark is also traffic free but you can hire bikes and there are horse drawn taxis.
Sark is perhaps best known as Europe's only remaining feudal state and is ruled by the seigneur, Michael Beaumont. The island has its own constitution which dates back to Elizabethan times which enables the island to raise its own taxes and make its own laws.
The island has a picturesque coastline of about thirty miles and the only way to visit is by foot or boat.
Jersey is the most southerly of the Channel Islands and is also the UK's most southerly point. It is situated some eighty miles south of the UK mainland and is approximately twenty miles from the French coast. There are regular ferry services to Jersey from Weymouth, Poole and Portsmouth. The Condor fast ferry makes the journey in around three hours.
The island has a lot to offer the visitor with miles of sandy beaches, stunning views, tranquil villages and the busy cosmopolitan centre of St Helier. A major attraction is Jersey Zoo, which was founded by the writer and naturalist, Gerald Durrell. The emphasis at the zoo is the conservation of endangered species rather than as just a sideshow.
Another spectacular sight is to be found at the small port of Gorey, which is overlooked by the stunning Mont Orgueil Castle - see above. The castle dates from the thirteenth century and was added to over the next 400 years. It is open to the public every day during the summer months.
As well as the tourism aspects of the island, Jersey also operates as a major financial centre with many international banks and finance houses based on the island. The main draw for these firms being low personal and corporate tax rates - some 50% of the islands income comes from financial institutions.
Places to visit on Jersey
Mont Orgueil Castle - 13th century castle - Gorey, St Martin, Jersey, JE3 6ET Phone: 01534 833300
Maritime Museum - interactive museum - New North Quay, St Helier, Jersey, JE2 3ND Phone: 01534 811043
Amazin Adventure Park - go carts and rides - St Peter, Jersey, JE3 7AX Phone: 01534 482116
Channel Islands Military Museum - based in a former German bunker - 01534 483205
Elizabeth Castle - 16th century castle on and island - 01534 723971
There is also a ten bowling alley and a swimming pool.
*Strictly speaking the Channel Islands are not a part of the UK - they are Crown Dependencies and are self governing.
Map of the Channel Islands
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