Northern Coastal Walk

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
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33
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Trip End May 12, 2012


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Where I stayed
St Georges St Peter Port
Read my review - 1/5 stars
What I did
Fort Doyle, Fort Marchant
Pembroke Bay/L'Ancresse Common
Le Dehus Passage Tomb, La Varde Les Fouaillages Neolithic burial mound
La Platte Mare

Flag of United Kingdom  , Channel Islands,
Monday, May 28, 2012



I rushed down to breakfast since I got up later than I had planned.  It was packed.  7:30 beats the rush; after 8 am, forget it.  There were no big plates, but I made do with the small ones.  A young Frenchman showed me how to prop up the tops of the pans for scrambled eggs et al. instead of putting one on top of the other.  Good thing to know.

I set off for the info center - this time to get a book of walks so that I could see the neolithic sites today and then do a cliff walk tomorrow.  Instead of a book., I got another map with some neolithic sites circled. 

Then I went for an island guide-less circle tour on the 7A bus because it was the first one leaving.  The 7A goes counterclockwise - so I went north first, then the west coast, south coast and back to St Peter Port.  I observed that Guernsey is not that bucolic at all.  The circle road is pretty much ringed by houses all the way.  There may be a break or two at the bays and beach areas or for a golf course, but there are mostly houses strung out along the main road.  Some were old, some were new.  They weren't particularly ugly since most maintain the old architectural style in some way, but this wasn't farmland either.  Perhaps there is some in the interior - but I may never get there.  The one info center woman seemed to go on the offensive when I asked about seeing Guernsey cows.  I am beginning to think there aren't any and that they don't want people to know.  On the whole circuit of the island, I only saw about a half dozen cows and three horses.  My Cornwall bus ride, I saw many more cows. 

My other observation is that there were a lot of greenhouses - large ones - in various states of disrepair and neglect.  I began to wonder what people do in Guernsey for a living.  Or do people retire here.  I know that Guernsey has off-shore finance operations.  Obviously, being a tourist, I may not be in the right places to see the working people, but, really, what do they do?

(I looked up some info:  about a third of Guernsey's income comes from financial services.  Tourism, manufacturing and horticulture (mainly tomatoes and cut flowers) have been declining.  There is still fishing.  And there was a 2012 Guernsey Cow Parade so they do still exist.  Their milk is prized for its golden hue - due to beta-carotene.  Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey, is a British Crown Dependency and not a part of the UK or EU.)

A little after 12 noon, I got off the bus in downtown St Peter Port.  I wasn't starved - especially after having a large breakfast and eating lunch very late for the past few days, but I did see that dockside restaurant, the Boathouse, advertising mussels, so I was very tempted.  I sat down at a table outside and ordered the mussels with a glass of pinot grigio.  I am glad Betty Levy showed me the trick of eating the mussels by scooping them out with a shell because it worked so well and I was hardly messy except for a few spots on my shirt.  

While I was eating, a woman sitting at one table went over to a man sitting at another table near me and asked him if he remembered her.  She asked if she could join him, he said yes but he needed to leave for an appointment.  She asked if she could go with him.  He said no, but he would be back in an hour.  She then asked for some wine, he said he would arrange it.  He left and a waitress told her no, she couldn't have any wine without paying cash.  I had wondered if the restaurant were going to let her hang out there.  I wasn't exactly sure what was going on - I only know that she was wearing her pants too tight and much lower than was attractive - to me, at least. 

After lunch, I had to walk back to my B&B to get my sneakers and things for my afternoon walk.  By the time I got organized and walked back to the bus "station," it was after 3 pm.  I caught the 7A - counterclockwise island circuit bus - again and showed the driver on the map where I wanted to get off.  He said something and then repeated it:  that stop was not available because of construction so he dropped me off earlier and I walked to the first of the stone age burial tombs - Le Dehus Passage Tomb.  This one wasn't too hard to find, but the info center circled another one nearby that I never did find.  It was eerie at first to go in because I thought it would be too dark and I forgot my flashlight.  But they have a few lights in them so that you can see the giant stone dolmens placed around to form the chamber.  The chamber was empty but it was still impressive with those giant granite blocks of stone.

From there I wanted to walk along the coast as much as possible so I passed a little marina and a fantastic beach of smooth rocks.  I loved them all, the stones, that is, and wanted them but had to content myself with taking some photos.  I then checked out Fort Doyle at the eastern end of Fontenelle Bay.  At the other end was another fort - Fort le Marchant.  You could walk up and look out over the bay but there really wasn't a lot to see at the forts themselves.  There are a number of loop-holed towers along this coast.  There were also wildflowers among the yellow-flowered gorse and lush green grass:  sea thrift, ice plants, Queen Anne's lace, little daisies, etc.

I have been lamenting that Guernsey was somewhat disappointing since I expected a more bucolic landscape and I expected to see more cows.  Yet today I did get away from St Peter Port and the air was fresh and fragrant with the smell of the sea and grass and flowers.  The midday light is extremely bright and the late afternoon light has that almost luminescent quality.   The birds were tweeting, bees were buzzing - there was a breeze blowing - it was lovely....

I walked from the fort and towers down to the beach and from there looked at the map to try to find my next neolithic sites - they may not actually be neolithic.  I will have to look that up later.  The first sign I found was close to where I expected it - near the bus stop.  I walked up a path in the middle of the golf course and found the Millennium stone.  It is an old dolmen that was discovered more recently and was engraved to commemorate the year 2000.  I had trouble finding the next site but did eventually find it not far away.  Some sites have signs on the roads pointing to where the monuments are and others only have the sign on the back road so how you know to go back there, I am not too sure.  In any case, I did find La Varde, the largest chambered tomb on Guernsey, featuring a 5m long capstone, up the road again and onto a perpendicular road where I found a path that then led to a sign in the middle of a field where the path then led to the stones. 

Les Fouaillages was less of a structure at this point in time - rather, some stones arranged in an area.  It is said to be one of the oldest structures in Europe dating back to 4500 B.C. and only discovered in 1976.

Now I had to walk back to the road where the bus stop was.  I thought I saw a path leading there but it led to one of the golf course holes.  I had to cut across the golf course.  Once I had to stop and let two golfers hit their balls down the course before setting out.  I waited for the bus about 15 minutes.  I got to watch the cars and other vehicles go by.  There were a lot of bicyclists.  Young people out for rides after work - whatever it is that they do here.  Some motorcycles and motor scooters.  An ATV on the road.  I realized now - I should have before - that it would not have been a good idea for me to rent a bike here.  When I saw the cars weaving around to avoid - thank goodness for that - the bicyclists, I knew I could never ride here - especially since I would always be confused, especially when I made a turn, as to which side of the road I should be on.  The bus came and put an end to all these lofty thoughts and reflections on Guernsey life.  I got back to the B&B about 8 pm.

When I went into the dining room to use the wi-fi, a gentleman was using the computer and said he would soon be done.  He then started talking to me.  He is the man that I confused with the nasty man who shut lights off on me.  This man is the one who called me "poor sod" because I used the internet so much...and it wasn't even work-related.  He asked me some questions and then I asked him some.  Turns out that he is a medical man from the Eastern coast of Scotland where there are no midges and he has been seeing patients here.  He travels around because of his expertise.  He corrects neurological or related problems by changing the brain function.  For example, some people with paranoid hallucinations might be helped by correcting how they see things.  He has also worked with people with autism and face recognition problems.  I mentioned my focusing problem and he said it wasn't focusing, but that his practice works with this kind of thing all the time.  Fascinating!

It is already nearly 10:30 and I haven't even uploaded any photos.  Instead, I need to pack so I can check out by 10 am and get an early start on my walk before catching the ferry to Jersey.


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