Tuesday, 21 October 2014

A Coastal Walk in Guernsey

One dark and stormy Friday night a couple of weeks ago, I dashed across London to make my way to Gatwick Airport and on to the Channel island of Guernsey. I was very lucky indeed that my plane took off that evening for I later discovered that mine was the last flight permitted to depart before flights were suspended for severe weather conditions.

The weather was slightly calmer on landing in Guernsey although still decidedly damp. My lovely friends Jen, Melissa and Lindsay picked me up and we drove through the darkness to Jen’s house. After chatting late into the night and early morning, I collapsed into bed and fell asleep immediately. It had been a very long day indeed.

I woke up to this.

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I had a fair idea of why Jen moved to Guernsey. She enjoys coastal runs, foraging and a life away from the chaos of the inner city. Now I understood why she loves it so much; can you imagine waking up to these views everyday?

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These photos were taking from the back yard of Jen’s adopted home. She has views to the sea and the rolling hills of the nearby seaside farms. My heart soared as my lungs filled with crisp, fresh air. I wanted to stay there forever.

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After the rain and storms of the previous evening, we could scarcely believe our luck at how beautiful the weather had turned out. We decided to take a walk down to the cliffs and follow the coastal path.

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We walked along a narrow country road, ducking every now and then to the side as cars came trundling along. The doorway above belongs to the property that was once home to Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables. He came to live in Guernsey after he was exiled from France and Jersey.  The remains of his house – his summer home – were destroyed by the Nazis in the Second World War. (Thank you very much to Jen and Lindsay for telling me this story – I have to admit I wasn’t immediately familiar with who Hugo was. I resolve to immediately watch Les Miserables to make up for my crime against literature!)

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I couldn’t help but snap a photo of this lamp post. Guernsey is just magical and every so often I’d get the feeling that I was actually walking through the pages of a children’s fantasy novel.

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This is one of my favourite photos. I love the barbed wire in the foreground and the sloping grass down to the bright blue sea. The sea was really that colour!

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I really like the reflection in the photo above and I love the idea of living in a house on a cliff, looking straight onto the sea. Those views must be pretty special.

Shortly after we passed this house, the girls decided that I should close my eyes for the next part. Believe me when I tell you that there is no greater display of trust than letting your friends guide you along the edge of sea cliffs while your eyes are closed.

It was absolutely worth it though for when I opened my eyes, I saw this.

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I had to agree that the view was pretty spectacular. I even let out a bit of a gasp when I opened my eyes which really scared the man standing beside us who thought someone had fallen down the cliffs.

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I looked to my right and saw a path leading up an incline, beckoning me to scamper up it like a billy goat. I know, I sound like an excited child but Guernsey inspired in me a desire to be free and explore.

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I wasn’t going to argue in any event and I ran up the incline to see the undulating hills and countryside beyond.

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I was touched by the dedication on this bench, “In loving memory of Annette Mason who loved these cliffs so much”. I could relate to that and imagined that one day Stephen and I might move to a place like this and be so happy that one of us would eave a dedication like this for the other. Of course, we’re very happy now but our dedication would read more like, “was a patient and loving parent to the most demanding cats on earth”. 

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The view into the water from this point was quite dizzying. The sea gets its distinctive colour from the limestone in the cliffs but Jen tells me that it is completely transparent when you’re standing in it.

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I quite liked this place marker, reminding us of Guernsey’s French heritage. At this point we’d returned from the direction the marker is pointing in and began to walk in the opposite direction.

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The views here were equally impressive and I believe I took over 15 photos of this cove and more on my iPhone.

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As we walked along the coastal path, we walked alongside properties which bordered the path. Can you imagine opening your back gate and seeing the views above? I can see my neighbour’s back yard.

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It really was a really beautiful, warm day and hard to believe that it was the middle of October. We felt very fortunate indeed.

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I was glad to get a reasonable photo of this gate. It had caught my eye on the way down but I’d worked hard to capture its charm in my previous photos.

A coastal walk in Guernsey

With one final look past Hugo’s old door, we soon came to the end of our lovely walk.

That evening about 15 women gathered to celebrate Canadian thanksgiving at Jen’s house. We had an incredible time and were only too happy to lounge around in our socks and pyjamas the next day when the weather took a dramatic and soggy turn.

Have you ever been to Guernsey? Which if the other nearby isles have you visited?

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© 2008 - Mandy Southgate | Emm in London

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