Best Tips on Travel to Guernsey
If you want the best tips on travel to Guernsey in summer, you have come to the right place!
When I think of summers in Guernsey, I see images of wild (albeit Spring, but permit me to indulge my imagination) flowers. I see bluebells, cowslips and buttercups, where bees hum and birds chirrup, and I picture doe-eyed brown and white cows, as well as narrow lanes, with hedgerows sporting the occasional ‘hedge veg’ wooden stall, complete with honesty box.
It’s certainly an idyllic countryside image, of winding, butterfly-filled lanes, their hedgerows hiding green fields in the higher parishes. Some of these lanes are designated ‘Ruette tranquille’, signifying an ancient path for pedestrians only.
In addition, I see people swimming, or playing on sandy beaches alongside their children and, on several, with the family dog, or strolling up to the ubiquitous tearoom/beach café for a basket of tea, milk, white mugs, and plates of scones piled high with rich yellow butter, strawberry jam and thick, custard-like Guernsey cream.
The tang of the sea fills my head, the blue sky above me warms my bones, and I ponder what it is that makes this island so special. The lilt of the local accent, perhaps (think a touch of South African without the harsh consonants). Likewise, sentences ending with the charming rhetorical question ‘eh?’, or the exclamation ‘Cor, dammee!’ are distinctive. I certainly haven’t heard ‘Chirrie, my love!’ (goodbye), and ‘Where you to?’ (where are you?’) elsewhere on my travels.
It is a charming island, indeed. But what can visitors do there?
Guernsey is a ‘Bailiwick’, an area under the jurisdiction of a bailiff, or local official. When you travel to the Bailiwick of Guernsey, you have the bonus of four other smaller isalnds to see!
What to do and see in Guernsey
As a tour manager, I wanted to do some research – all part of my tour group leader job! So to find out, I got in touch with the new Chairman of the Bailiwick of Guernsey Guild of Accredited Guides, Gill Girard. After an hour of hearing her share the island’s many attractions with me, I realised that despite living there for many years until 2003, I had no idea of the numerous sights the island now has to offer.
Travel to Guernsey, and join this experienced local guide, discover the island’s delights, and the extensive variety of activities available. Here is a selection.
Tours and sights:
On foot: 10.30am from St. Peter Port town walking tours; coastal walks; Lihou island tour, St Sampson’s harbour. Twice yearly walking festivals; scarecrow competition walk. See https://www.guernseyguidedtours.com/ for details
Food and drink: Guernsey Gâche fruit loaf, ormers, lobsters, crabs. Cream, butter, cheese, icecream. Bean jar. Cider from Fauxquets Valley Gouffre farm (National Trust); Tennerfest when restaurants offer their specialities for 10GBP;
Administration and government: The Royal Court house: http://www.guernseyroyalcourt.gg/article/1954/Parishes-and-Douzaines
Outdoor opportunities: Coasteering, kayaking, paddleboarding, climbing, hiking, abseiling, cycling. Rib ride around Herm island: look for Puffins. https://www.visitguernsey.com/outdoor-guernsey
Second World War history: German Naval HQ (Enigma machines) daily 12.00 https://www.visitguernsey.com/content/german-naval-signals-hq; German military underground hospital; Occupation history museum. German military museum in old fuel tank tunnels. WW2 fortifcations along the coast and cliff paths.
C20 history: St James’ Millenium tapestry – 1,000 years of island history with audioguide. http://www.guernseytapestry.org.gg/
Other nearby islands: Half day boat trip to Herm, full day to Sark, or overnight at Stocks or La Sablonnerie picturesque, bucolic hotels with award-winning restaurants, also many Bed and Breakfast establishments. New ferry service to Alderney – to see blond hedgehogs/wildlife/birds. See here
Neolithic dolmens; neolithic gate posts at St Martin’s and Castel churches, various archaeological sites: graves, settlements, menhirs. See here
Arts and crafts:
Castle Cornet open air concerts and play performances. Viair Marché old Guernsey market: play Crown & Anchor game, take part in the Euchre tournament. Saumarez Manor pitch and putt/sculpture trail/ Farmers’ market on Saturday mornings and toy train ride through gardens. Folk museum Saumarez park + Victorian garden. Candie gardens: Guernsey artists exhibition and ‘Under Surveillance’ camera exhibition by Eric Snell. Victor Hugo’s Hauteville house (closed for 12 months till 2019 for €2million renovation – the property is a corner of France on foreign soil. See here
Celebrations: May 9th Liberation Day; Rocquaine regatta; Battle of Flowers; Town carnival; Battle of Britain Red Arrows display
Guernsey’s ‘national anthem’:
Listen to local people singing their island’s song
Further reading: numerous books, including the most recently published ‘Hitler’s British Isles’ by Duncan Barrett, and ‘500 Years of Island Life’ by Peter Lihou.
Finally, these are just a few from the cornucopia of opportunities, to suit every taste. Gill, as a working tour guide, is able to share her expertise about the island’s facilities, as are many of her tour guiding colleagues. And besides, one of the great things about the tour guide job is that you can go on to a career in public speaking or travel writing for many years after you ‘retire’ from the job, as I can confirm!
See also other blog posts about Guernsey:
Guernsey Tour Guide
Wanderlust magazine Guernsey article
Guernsey Castle Cornet
Living by the sea
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