The island of Guernsey sits out in the English Channel closer to the French coast than to Britain, a world in itself, crammed with rural charm, sea-heritage and history. Just twelve miles long, much of the island’s appeal lies in its coves, cliff paths and quiet-road countryside, with many walks and cycle-routes and some small but fine beaches – including Petit Port’s beautiful sandy, craggy expanse in the south.
You’re never far from the sea. There’s kayaking off the southern cliffs at Fermain Bay, surfing to the west at Vazon Bay, and many of the island’s best experiences are similarly low-key and intimate. To the north-east, for instance, you can let yourself into a beautifully-preserved Neolithic tomb near Bordeaux, complete with ancient carvings. No tickets, in you go.
The attractive capital, St. Peter Port offers a cultural focus, with museums including the exquisite Hauteville House, home of Victor Hugo, who famously wrote “Les Miserables” here. Rugged Castle Cornet, a collection of museums on an islet in the harbour, offers insights into Guernsey’s social and military history; and twenty minutes away, near the airport, there’s intriguing evidence of Guernsey’s more sensitive military experience at the Germany Occupation Museum.
Guernsey is also a stepping stone to other islands, with day-trip ferries or flights to nearby Herm, Sark and Alderney, and, of course, the larger island of Jersey. It is famous for rich cream and dairy produce, too. And it’s certainly worth trying the satisfying, slow-cooked stew known as “bean jar”.