How and where do Guernsey Accredited guides get trained?
The Bailiwick of Guernsey Guild of Accredited Guides, the Guild, was established in 2007-8. The Guild provides training to become a locally accredited guide, and awards accreditations in conjunction with the Guernsey College of Further Education and the Quality Assurance Department of the States of Guernsey government, based on a stringent level of training and assessment to a high standard. Accredited guides are reassessed every 3 years. There are currently over 50 Gold and Silver accredited guides in Guernsey, who are self-employed, operate independently, generate their own levels of business and are covered by the BGGAG public liability insurance. Guides pay an annual subscription to the Guild and the organisation is non- profit making.
What made you decide to become a guide?
I love Guernsey; I am passionate about what it has to offer and I love passing on my knowledge and interests to both visitors and locals. I originally decided to do the training for Bronze Level as I was very interested in gaining more in-depth knowledge of the island. I enjoyed it so much, I progressed to Silver Level and started getting involved in offering walking tours for locals and visitors and participating in walking weeks. I now get involved in our town and coastal walks programmes and walking festivals, providing excursions for our cruise ship passengers, and providing tailor made tours on demand.
What’s special about working as a guide on Guernsey?
Guernsey is a great place to work as a guide. Everything is easily accessible in Guernsey, either on foot, or using our very good bus service. I work all year around, but it is quieter during the winter months. I particularly love doing my long distance walks, going from coast to coast, but also my regular Town Walks, which we operate at 10.30am daily from the Guernsey Information Centre for most of the year. We operate whether rain or shine and there is no need to book, so we never know how many people will turn up. I have led a walk for 1 person but I have also had multiple groups of 15+. We each do our own route around the town.
Guernsey is on the itinerary of many cruise ships. What is it like working with them?
Working with cruise ship passengers is great. I love welcoming so many different nationalities to our shores. Every year we are now seeing c120 ships visit. As well as providing excursions through the cruise ship agents, I have been providing specific St Peter Port guided walks and coastal walks for these visitors as well as Victor Hugo tours. Victor Hugo spent 15years in exile in Guernsey and his diaries record places around the town that he used to frequent. I love leading tours by following in his footsteps ending up in his main residence, Hauteville House, which is a fascinating place for our visitors to see. All my walks are in English, but we do have some guides who are fluent in German, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Occasionally interpreters are involved, otherwise we manage with a mixture of goodwill and mime gestures! For the majority of cruise ship passengers, it is their first visit to our island, so I love giving them a taster in the short time I am with them, with the hope that they will return for a longer stay in the future.
Are there any particular challenges for tour guides in Guernsey?
Whilst the island is relatively small, only 9 x 3 miles, it is quite hilly in parts. St Peter Port pathways can be steep, and our venelles (alleyways of steep narrow steps) can be demanding for visitors used to flatter walkways. However, it is possible to do a tour of the heart of the town avoiding any steps or climbs, so it means that we are able to offer tours to people of all abilities. Likewise, the cliff paths can be quite demanding, so tours need to be well planned and risk assessed. During busy cruise ship days, it can be difficult to find a coach to hire, so forward planning is vital. Finally, although Guernsey enjoys a mild climate, the weather isn’t always ideal, and Guides have been known to get drenched and wind-blown occasionally whilst leading walks!
Anyone who hasn’t visited this beautiful island is sure of a big welcome from a qualified, experienced local accredited Guide. Visit http://guernseyguidedtours.com/ and look out for our logo: