Aug 30 2011

Jersey Coastal Walk – Day Two

Bouley Bay

route: Gorey to Bonne Nuit
Date: 30th August 2011
distance: 12 miles
time: 5 hrs 50 mins
walkers: Dave & Leanne

After the walk we did a few days ago we had both struggled with our feet but the blisters on Leanne’s little toes were much worse than anything I had, and as they were feeling better after a few days rest, we decided to do a little more of the coastal path. By now we had been joined by the rest of the family which meant getting to and from places would be that bit easier. We drove to Gorey and parked the car up ensuring we had put enough parking cards in for a good few hours. A little later the rest of the gang would come past in their hire car and someone would move the car to our intended finishing point of Greve De Lecq where they were spending the day on the beach. If we made good time we could join them for an hour or two and if not the car was waiting for us and we could make our own way back to the hotel. With this plan in place we took a snap at the spot we ended day one and began the next stage of our journey.

Ready to continue our walk from Gorey

The sun was already hot as we crossed the road and looked for the route up towards Mont Orgueil, which we soon found after a little pit stop to powder our noses. This little climb gave us chance to stretch our legs and ease our way back into things. Our feet felt fine and we were all set for a productive day taking in the sights of North East Jersey.

Mont Orgueil Castle

With the castle to our backs we followed the road for a short section passing an information board about Ormers and Abalones which was not only informative it also gave us new names for the day with me becoming Abalone and Leanne being known as Ormer. Obviously this wouldn’t have been the case had there been a group of us but we like to mess about from time to time and it was a constant source of amusement throughout the day. We chuckled as we began to descend into Anne Port and it was clear that the walking today was going to be totally different to the first section, as long flat sweeping bays were going to be replaced with numerous smaller bays we would have to climb in and out of.

Anne Port with St Catherine’s Breakwater in the distance

Anne Port was a pretty small bay and apart from three people having an early morning dip there wasn’t much going on as we strolled along the top of the sea wall before we began to climb ever so gradually on the footpath we picked up.

Leanne going round the headland towards St Catherine’s Bay

From here we continued along this path as it alternated between path and sea wall for the next mile or so until we reached the breakwater at St Catherine’s. This is basically a massive harbour wall and is all that exists of a projected “refuge” harbour for the Royal Navy. It was intended to be used as a forward base in the event of a blockade of the French coast. The harbour was designed during the period of Anglo-French rivalry during the 1840s, and work began on the North breakwater in 1847. It was finished in 1855, by which time Britain and France were fighting as allies against the Russians, and the planned Southern breakwater was never completed. It is about half a mile in length and we walked to the end the last time we were here three years ago. This time we had no need to and followed the road as it took us by the cafe which was full of day trippers and led us to the footpath to Flicquet that was clearly signposted on our right. Another climb followed and already at this early point we both felt like we had worked harder than we had done by the end of stage one. The one good thing about a tough climb is that it is usually followed by a period of flat or descent as that was the case here.

At Fliquet with France in the background

The climb out of Flicquet was another steepish one although our background of fell walking stood us in good stead and we didn’t stop, instead we slowed slightly in pace and continued to grind out the yards until the road levelled out. We had seen a breakdown truck pass us twice already and he was clearly lost as he went by again, acknowledging us with a grin and a shrug of the shoulders as we approached a crossroads ahead. The book told us to turn right here down La Rue du Scez but over the road we got our first glimpse of some Jersey cows so we went over for a picture. I approached and one let me touch her nose but as Leanne went to take the picture they all got spooked, so we left them to it and after double checking we were going the right way, continued on our route.

Jersey cows

Rozel Bay

We soon had Rozel Bay in sight and like everywhere apart from the deep sea port at St Helier, when the tide goes out it leaves all the moored boats stranded until it comes back in later in the day. Visiting the same bay at high and low tide is almost like being in two different places as the tide moves so much and personally I like that. We never actually made it to the little village and harbour as our route climbed before we made it that far. As the road twisted and turned upwards I found a decent stride and made use of it while I could checking over my shoulder from time to time to make sure Ormer wasn’t too far behind. After a couple of hairpin bends the road straightened but as I continued there was no sign of movement behind me so I eased up. After five minutes there was still no sign and I was left with a choice of descending the hill to check all was ok but having to come all the way back up, or just wait. As Leanne hadn’t seemed to be struggling a few minutes earlier I chose to wait and sure enough within seconds she came into view holding two large shells she had just bought for the garden at home. She seemed chuffed with her purchases priced at 50p each and had left a one pound note in the honesty box as instructed. We found room for them in the bag and had a drink and a snack as we looked back down to Rozel Bay before we began once again. Leanne was struggling with her feet once again and we agreed that we would pause once we found a nice spot as long as we found one soon. Not too much further on we reached a gravel car park and just beyond was a few benches overlooking the sea. Leanne’s boots came off immediately and after a thorough examination of her feet and the blisters that were again on the large side, we agreed to see how far we could get before calling it a day. As we stood here chatting and looking at the map I didn’t think we would get much further and I constantly tried to reassure her that it wouldn’t be a disappointment to me if we had to stop and not complete the whole island walk, after all we were on holiday.

Leanne was happy to get some air to her feet

After a quarter of an hour the decision was taken to get going once again so Leanne slowly put her boots back on before hobbling across the flat grass towards the footpath. We hoped that this was just for a short while until the legs became used to moving once again and the toes sorted themselves out, otherwise it was going to be a very slow day. We reached the cliff path for what we were told was the most beautiful part of the walk along the north coast and we could see what lay ahead.

Leanne looking out over Bouley Bay

The underfoot conditions changed and that helped Leanne as the more cushioned natural surface didn’t seem to aggravate her feet as much as the path wound up and down the hillside with the sea always just down below us to our right. We soon reached a fork and the guidebook didn’t seem to be accurate at this point and we were unsure if we stayed high or dropped down towards L’Etacquerel Fort. After reading the book over and over again we plumped for the route to the old 18th century fort although as we approached there was a footbridge to the fort but no sign of a path anywhere else. After a more thorough look I spotted the faintest of paths dropping very steeply to our left. I carefully set off telling Leanne to wait until I explored a little more and then after a few metres I told her it must be the way and she followed. Wrong! A very short distance further on there was a wall and over it a sheer drop. The path just vanished and that was the end of that. The only thing to do was for us to re-climb the steep section before climbing the wooden steps back up to the fork in the path.

L’Etacquerel Fort with Bouley Bay in the background

Eventually the higher path led towards the top of Bouley Bay and as we reached the road down to the sea we had a decision to make. We could either take in a reasonably steep descent into the village in search of refreshment or we could rejoin the footpath on the other side of the road and press on. We were still ok for water but hadn’t really packed much food and whilst we didn’t feel hungry right now it would only be a matter of time before we did. Sense should have prevailed but neither of us wanted to descend only to have to come back up and as we felt ok right now, we continued on, taking the footpath to Bonne Nuit which was 4 miles away. Even though we never reached sea level the path still climbed quite steeply and for what seemed like an age before we reached the plateau at the top and the long flat section that followed. It was about this point where we both started to feel hungry and regretted our earlier choice but nothing could be done now so we shared a bit of flapjack and kept moving as fast as possible. The level path gave way to one that began to wind and dive as it led us into a wooded section and the shade for some respite from the hot sunshine that we had encountered all morning. The path continued to descend until we crossed a little stream then we began the ascent up and out of the valley before turning right and heading down once more. Here we came across a monument dedicated to those who took part in Operation Hardtack 28 on 25th and 26th December 1943 which was the only Commando raid on Jersey during World War 2. From here the path climbed once again and the cover of the trees became a distant memory as the path followed the cliff and we trod carefully as the book warned us we were dangerously close to the edge.

Fortunately this wasn’t our route

I was feeling the heat by now and the fact we didn’t have enough to eat wasn’t helping with my energy levels so I was pleased when we finally saw Giffard Bay ahead of us as just the other side of this was Bonne Nuit and the chance to buy some grub. With this carrot dangling in front of us we kept going albeit at a slower pace than earlier but at least we were still making progress. I checked my phone to see the time and noticed a text from my mum asking how we were doing and what time we thought we would arrive in Greve De Lecq. We found a little patch of shade and sat down to check the map before replying saying that we could be three hours or more until we reached them. The text messages went backwards and forwards as me and Leanne neared the lovely sandy beach ahead.

Heading towards Giffard Bay with our footpath clearly seen running round the hillside

Giffard Bay

Apparently this is a popular place for nude sunbathing but we saw nobody with or without clothes as we walked by still trying to work out the best plan of attack. I was tired and Leanne had sore feet. We were both hungry and although that could soon be fixed we were in danger of making an enjoyable walk feel like a chore, and with that in mind we decided that Bonne Nuit would be it for the day. We had calculated that we would be over half way round the island by then so we could finish it in two more sections, perhaps the three we had been aiming for was a little optimistic in the first place. The text message was sent to our backup team and we informed them that we would let them know when we were at Bonne Nuit as we still had a mile or so to go. Our spirits were still high even though we weren’t going to hit our target for the day. I was grumbling with almost every stride but it was in light hearted way and Leanne knew that choosing to play along rather than tell me to shut up. One final climb up a track, then a road before we turned down the hill towards the harbour and as we sent the rescue text we spotted a cafe that offered all we could ever dream of, a seat, cold drinks and food … “sorry we aren’t doing food anymore”… bugger! We made do with a packet of crisps and a piece of cake each. Leanne ordered homemade battenburg and I got a date slice which was basically date crumble, heaven in food form. I was that impressed I made Leanne try some even though she wasn’t fussed. She then went back and bought another slice for us to share along with two more for us to take back to the hotel.

Bonne Nuit harbour

The cavalry arrived and we jumped in the car and they gave us a lift back to Greve De Lecq but instead of us joining them on the beach, we jumped in the other car and went back to the hotel. After finishing on the first day of walking we went for a paddle to cool the feet, today we went for a swim to cool everything. There was no doubt that the northern coast of Jersey was much more rugged and wild than the south and I hoped we could go back and see more of it in the days to come. It had been hard work but the up side of that was my feet were ok so I would be good to go again soon. Leanne on the other hand was struggling a little and we would have to see how her feet recovered before committing to any further walking. 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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