Article 02 March

9 secret spots on Guernsey's coastline

Award-winning walking guide Gill Girard has been exploring Guernsey's coast since she was a child. We persuaded her to share her favourite crowd-free gems...

Seek out secluded coves

The walk from St Peter Port along the east coast and around to the south coast is very special, but this first section is fairly well trodden. But on the east coast, find the little path and steps down to Bec du Nez, a lovely quaint fishing harbour.

Not much further along that coast are the very secluded coves of Marble Bay and Divette, beautiful for a morning swim especially as the tide is coming up. There is, more often than not, no one else there.

Refuel at beach kiosks

The Fermain Beach Cafe, on the east coast, has a great reputation and serves a great crab sandwich – but if you want a lesser-known refreshment stop while walking on the south coast, try the beach kiosk at Saints Bay. Here you'll find lovely home-made cake, tea served in a pot, and a very warm welcome.


Saints Bay, Guernsey (Dreamstime)

Get on – and in – the water

If you feel like being more adventurous I can highly recommend an afternoon of kayaking or coasteering to explore our amazing coast line. No need to worry about your age or experience, as neither is a barrier. Outdoor Guernsey will tailor the routes for you. The exhilaration of leaping off the rocks into the clear blue sea cannot be beaten. If you're on the island during the Channel Islands Heritage Festival (25 March to 10 May 2016), try the First Commando Kayak Tour – a special event that's part of the festival.

Find 'The Island'

Another special place for me is 'The Island' at Port Soif. Generations of my family have enjoyed this special spot, where huge terraces of pink granite give amazing swimming at the right tide. We are lucky in Guernsey to have several excellent beach kiosks, and across the beach at Port Soif is one of these. It sells great home-made cakes and fresh sandwiches.


View from Lihou Island (Dreamstime)

Wallow in Venus Pool

Walking across the seabed on a cobbled causeway to Lihou Island (the most westerly of the Channel Islands) is pretty special, but the icing on the cake is to scramble down the rocks and find Venus Pool, a deep and sheltered rock pool which is a great place for a swim.

The causeway is only accessible at low tide for about two weeks of each month. A timetable is displayed at each end of the causeway and it is dangerous to cross if the tide is beginning to cover the causeway. Take care. If you would prefer a guided tour, I'll be leading a Discover Lihou trip on 3 April.

Make a day of it

Because Guernsey is only 24 square miles, you can be on the east coast and enjoy an amazing sunrise over the smaller islands, then walk to the west coast and watch an equally spectacular sunset.

A popular local pastime is to enjoy fish and chips on the seawall as the sun goes down at Cobo bay. The granite rocks here have lots of pink quartz in them so are a beautiful colour and are a stunning contrast with the turquoise sea and sky, Victor Hugo described this part of Guernsey as the 'Coast of mirages' because of the way the rock weathers and produces all sorts of shapes and images.

If you're interested in Victor Hugo's legacy on the island, I'll be leading a Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea tour around the island – on selected dates, as part of the Channel Islands Heritage Festival.


Guernsey fishing boat (Dreamstime)

Don't miss spectacular seafood

If you are in St Saviours parish, the Auberge du Val is a great restaurant for a cosy dinner or lunch – it's off the beaten track and has an interesting menu. When in St Peter Port I love the food at Le Nautique, where owner chef Gunther pays special attention to local shell fish and fish. It's in an old warehouse, overlooking the harbour.

For a lighter meal, I usually recommend Hideaway in Moore's Hotel. It's tucked away on the first floor with a big outdoor terrace, great home-made food, and service with a smile.

If you're a real foodie, don’t miss the Guernsey International Food Festival (23 Sept – 2 Oct).

Be careful on the cliffs

Walking on the flat west coast is less demanding than the south coast cliffs, but there is little shade on a sunny day so don't forget your hats and water bottles. Walking poles are a great help on the south coast cliffs: as you go from sea level and up to 100 metres many times, steps are unavoidable!

From St Peter Port to le Gouffre on the south coast cliffs you will come across a toilet and kiosk about every hour, but once past le Gouffre there are no public toilets, beaches or kiosks. The coast is beautifully wild and rugged here.

We are fortunate that this cliff path is never very far from the 'round the island' bus route – so if you are feeling tired, turn inland and find a bus stop. The bus will take you in either direction back to St Peter Port.


Sark Island (Shutterstock)

Go back in time

The great thing about visiting Guernsey is that you are not far away from the smaller islands in the Bailiwick and for a treat I love to take the ferry to Sark, hire a bicycle and go across le Coupee to Little Sark to enjoy a lobster salad at La Sablonnerie Hotel. Your hostess Elizabeth will entertain and look after you brilliantly. Sark has no traffic and no tarmac; it's a real step back in time.


This article is supported by the Channel Islands Heritage Festival, but it is impartial and independent – just like all Wanderlust editorial

Guernsey-born tour guide Gill Girard knows the island like the back of her hand. She is a Gold Accredited guide, and specialises in walking tours for groups of all sizes. She is married, with four children and five grandchildren. For more information, visit www.gillgirardtourguide.com or call 0044 (0)1481 252403.



Main image: Sandy beach in Guernsey (Dreamstime)