Sep 02 2011

Jersey Coastal Walk – Day Three

Looking towards Plémont Point from just above the Mourier Valley

route: Bonne Nuit to St Ouen’s Bay
Date: 2nd September 2011
distance: 14 miles
time: 6 hrs 20 mins
walkers: Dave & Leanne

Another two days of rest and recuperation left us both feeling eager to continue on our quest to walk around Jersey during our ten day holiday. Today was day eight so we were leaving it late if we wanted to complete the whole thing, but by now we were over half way with 29 of the 48 miles done. The plan for today was to set off and see how far we could get before we were too tired or the feet problem we had been experiencing came back. Deep down I thought it may be too much to do all of the remaining 19 miles in one day but a lot of that would be down to the terrain and how much climbing there was. If it was similar to day one we could push on but we knew it was going to be similar to the second day with many bays to climb in and out of so we didn’t expect too much of ourselves as my dad dropped us off at Bonne Nuit. We finished day two right at the bottom of the road beside the harbour eating the worlds nicest date crumble slices but we made sure we were dropped off half way up the hill as that is where the footpath angled off up the cliff side. It wasn’t that we were cheating in anyway, as we had walked past this spot yesterday so we just saved our legs the climb up from sea level. The path itself was certainly a sharp start to the day and it got the blood flowing as we headed up the steps cut into the hill until we levelled out to what was almost a natural viewing platform where we could see the coast in both directions and also see down to the harbour below.

Bonne Nuit

Leanne wasn’t totally comfortable with this section of the path

For the next half hour or more the path was reasonably level as we made our way on the cliff path until we turned left and headed up to a road before turning right to follow the pavement. The only little danger we had along the way was a sign stating that there may be blasting going on when the siren sounds, fortunately we had just joined the pavement as we heard the siren although we never heard the blast (maybe it was muffled by numerous unlucky ramblers?!). After following the pavement for a short while we walked above Ronez Quarry but eventually the route led us back to the cliff path and we proceeded to make good progress despite the conditions. Once again the sun was beating down and I was already hot, but we knew of at least one place along the way where we could get decent refreshments and replenish our stocks so we ensured we were properly hydrated. After one drinks break the path took us beyond Sorel Point and we had chance to look back at the lighthouse built into the rock face. We took a few minutes to have a look at this and the wonderful pinky coloured granite that sat below it before we moved on. We were soon met with a sign that seemed a little strange to me but obviously there was a reason for it…

Is there really the need for a sign?

To someone who has spent a lot of time in the Yorkshire Dales over the last couple of years this sign seemed a little unnecessary. I mean why do we need to know that sheep are loose or is it such an uncommon occurrence here that it was big news? With hindsight it is obviously the latter, as I think the five sheep we spotted a little further down the path were the only ones on the whole island, or at least the only ones we saw. If this is the future of sign making then I need to start a business at home in Yorkshire and I would be a millionaire in no time, I could then branch out into chickens, grouse and cows!

The only five sheep on Jersey?

Once we had safely negotiated the loose sheep we made our way onto a flat grassy area and as the book suggested we took the large path to the right of the three available to us. This took us towards a car park where another signpost pointed us in the right direction. Down this path we saw a large statue of a devil stood on some horrible green slime below us to our right. We wanted to get a picture and had the option of sliding down the steep banking or going back to the car park and down the adjacent tarmac path, which Leanne volunteered to do.

The statue on the path to Devil’s Hole

Devil’s Hole

The Devil’s Hole is a natural crater in the solid cliff measuring about 100ft across and plunging 200ft down. It has been caused by the sea gradually eroding the roof of what was once a cave, until it collapsed and formed a crater. Our route didn’t take us directly to it so we had to make do with a distant view as the cliff path continued to lead us along the northern coastline. From time to time we encountered thick gorse bushes on either side of us creating a narrow tunnel which offered a little shade if they were high enough to block the sun. As we left one such tunnel the view opened up and we could see plenty of what was to come over the next few hours as we approached Greve De Lecq.

Greve De Lecq (the third bay) would be our refreshment stop

The path headed inland shortly after the above picture was taken and we followed some farm tracks for a while before joining a narrow road that would lead past warning signs for a pistol range, rifle range and an archery range as it descended towards the little tourist spot. We soon got our first sight of the sand as the road continued to twist and turn before it took us down to the barracks and finally into Greve De Lecq.

Our first view of the beach at Greve De Lecq

This was meant to be our finishing point of day two and we both commented numerous time during the morning that there was no way we could have gotten this far the other day. I am sure if we had kept going we would have managed it, although it would have taken a long time and the walk would no longer have been enjoyable, so we were both happy with the decision we made. Thankfully today we both felt ok as we made our way across a large car park to a beach side cafe and went inside to buy supplies. The main priority was liquid as we had gone through most of ours so we stocked up and had a couple of extra bits to drink whilst sat under one of the large parasols overlooking the beach. We bought some sandwiches and snacks too but with a tough climb out of Greve De Lecq anticipated we didn’t want to eat them just yet so we stashed them in the bag to have later. After consuming some water and diet coke we contemplated an ice cream but we decided against it, choosing to get moving once again before stiffness set in. The ascent out of this lovely little bay was indeed fairly steep as we followed a tiny tarmac road up the hillside with the occasional driveway leading to a large house complete with swimming pool and a sea view. The tarmac eventually gave way to gravel and then we rejoined the footpath as it levelled out once more.

Looking back to Greve De Lecq

With the climb done we continued for a short while until we came across a bench and decided that this would be the perfect spot for some lunch. We cracked out the pre packed sarnies although we both only had one half as we have learnt that eating too much in one go whilst walking doesn’t agree with us. After fifteen minutes or so we were back on our feet and heading down into the first of three valleys, each was thankfully more shallow than the previous one and as we climbed out of the third one we took five minutes to take in the views as we had another drink.

Looking back to Sorel Point in the distance

As we set off again the path was relatively flat and we made pretty good progress for a short while as we neared the old disused holiday camp on top of the cliff. It seems such a shame that something that was once so popular is now left in such a state. As we walked we discussed why it may have ended up like this and why a popular holiday resort was now surplus to requirements. I know things move on and times change but the beach below was lovely, albeit a steep walk down and back and I couldn’t see why it wouldn’t still be attractive to paying customers. Obviously there is a reason but it still seems a shame. We walked right beside the buildings before dropping into Plémont Bay and climbing up the other side to continue the cliff path.

Plémont Bay with the old holiday camp perched on the cliff top

Once we had regained the height we lost dropping into the bay the path was fairly level for the next mile or so as we headed to the top left corner of the island and the old ruins of Grosnez Castle. We thought that this was a suitable spot for the other half of our sandwiches and we spent a short while resting and accessing how we felt after the nine miles (approx) we had done today. Again the day had been very hot and I was feeling it as no matter how much water I took on I wanted to take more. The sun hat I wore to protect my head from the sun was retaining heat which wasn’t ideal but it had to be worn. All in all we didn’t feel too bad but it was at this point it became clear we were going to need a fourth day walking if we were to complete the full walk. I wasn’t too disapointed in that as I felt we couldn’t have done anymore without being silly and we had found a nice balance between making the walk leisurely and enjoyable whilst still covering enough distance to get round. We also had the luxury of knowing that the hilly terrain of the north coast was gone and the west coast is all downhill or level. With that as an incentive we packed up and set off once again passing the racecourse where we spent an enjoyable day prior to day two of our walk. Up ahead of us we could see of of many old German defences with an old sighting tower clearly visible and we used that as our reference point until we reached it.

The path leading us towards a bunker and an old sighting tower

A short distance after the world war two defences we saw Le Pinacle which is a large natural rock formation with evidence of it being an important place for rituals back in the Bronze Age and evidence that it was still being used as a temple by the Roman’s as late as 200AD. Whilst it was large and impressive it wasn’t quite what I expected after reading the description in the guidebook.

Le Pinacle

Beyond this we encountered more evidence of World War 2 defences with numerous bunkers being visible as well as a few gun emplacements some with guns dismantled and left and others with guns still in tact. All this serves as a reminder that this was the only part of Britain that was invaded during the second World War and the Germans intended to defend it.

One of the gun emplacements along the coast at Les Landes

We soon came to the end of the path on the cliff and it began to head downwards towards the beach at St Ouen’s Bay. Whilst this was a welcome sight as it meant we were near the end, the sheer size of it was a little daunting. For most of the walk you can’t really see too far ahead and have to simply walk in little sections where as here you have a big five mile long expanse of sand smack bang in front of you.

St Ouen’s Bay with Corbiére at the bottom of the island just off shot to the right

The path dropped quite steeply and after following the a road around a hairpin bend we were presented with a choice, to keep to the path which followed the road, or to head down the slipway and walk on the beach. The book says to do the latter if the tide is out and it was certainly out so we headed for the sand and began the long walk. At times I felt like I was part of the scene in Carry On Follow that Camel where the French Foreign Legion soldiers are walking for mile after mile in blistering heat. I was grumbling a little now as I was just about cooked for the day but Leanne kept me going in her own way by telling me to “stop moaning and keep walking”. About this time I received a text from my mum asking us how we were going as she was parked up with my dad two thirds of the way down the bay. As soon as that text came we knew that was our finish point for the day and we replied with words to that effect. It took a few messages to establish exactly where they were as the lifeguards white jeep that was on the beach in front of them wasn’t even visible to us at that point. It is interesting how the human mind and body works because as soon as we knew we were finishing Leanne said she began to feel a few niggles and aches whereas before she was fine. It is as if once you know you are finishing the adrenaline stops and leaves you with all the little pains. I on the other hand perked up a little as I knew the end was in sight and I mustered one final effort, although I still kept grumbling and cursing about anything and everything. The sand was too soft to walk on causing us to sink a little, then too hard meaning the soles of my feet hurt. If it wasn’t that it was because the sun was too hot or the white jeep was too far away. Basically anything I could complain about I did, but it spurred me on and sure enough the van came into sight. Soon after my phone rang and we were told if we came up the next set of steps to walk along the promenade we would be treated to an ice cream before we got a lift to the hotel.

Leanne walking across the sand at St Ouen’s Bay

We enjoyed our ice cream and although I was shattered I was extremely pleased with our efforts and another 14 miles completed. We reached the hotel and where as on previous days we headed for the sea, it was low tide and it was too far away for me to be interested. Instead we sat in the bar and had a pint of shandy to quench our thirst before we both got a quick shower to rinse off and then had a long bath to soak. Today had been another tough one, more due to the weather conditions than the walking but we had done another big day and that only left 5 miles to finish the whole island off but only one day left. It would be nice to say we had done it but not if that meant spoiling our last day so we agreed we would see how we felt in the morning but we both knew deep down we were going to do it no matter what. With that thought in mind, we headed for the hotel bar and had a couple of cheeky ones whilst we watched the tide come in…

Sir Edmund

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