Channel Islands

I discovered to my pleasure that Guernsey does have a lot to write home about architecturally but, with four islands to visit in three days, there was little time for writing.

Around Guernsey, certainly on the twisting walk from the port to the pleasant Sausmarez Manor, there are proper buildings – Georgian, Victorian and even Art Deco structures. In a number of cases, neat Georgian stucco facades have been applied to older stone buildings, serving as a great demonstration of the lengths to which people would go, as they did in Brighton also, to follow the fashion of the day.

Last week, I wrote about the Jersey War Tunnels – a series of well-preserved military tunnels which have been turned into an impressive and engaging museum. Guernsey’s equivalent, the German Military Underground Hospital, consists of over a mile of cold, dark and wet passages. In their untouched state, they tell a story in a style entirely different to that of the modern museum. A tally is kept to ensure that nobody gets locked in overnight.

Jersey’s Glass Church with decorations by René Lalique was unbeatable but Guernsey’s Little Chapel must be one of a kind. It’s a tiny church – and it really is tiny. Every surface has been painstakingly covered with pebbles, seashells and broken pieces of china and glass.

I found it hard to find things which were attractive about nearby Alderney. Like the others, it is surrounded by dramatic cliffs (and has puffins on neighbouring Burhou) but there appears to be little more. The best bit was flying into the island’s charming scout hut-like airport on the tiniest of propeller planes.

We’d been playing a game to find the lowest digits on number plates native to each island. The concept was simple as each island’s plates follow a basic numbering system. The winners were J209, 215 and AY 16 on Jersey, Guernsey and Alderney respectively in case you were wondering. Sark, however, has no cars – only horses and tractors.

Made up of Great Sark and Little Sark (and, debatably, Brecqhou), Sark is the most breath-taking of the islands that we saw. Abandoned silver mines, the Window in the Rock and La Seigneurie are perfect attractions for such a tiny island and I will most definitely be returning.

Although there aren’t cars, I did see a tractor with the plate Robert 6. Perhaps it was named after Sark’s new biggest fan.