Channel Islands (UK)


The Channel Islands are Crown Dependencies with their own independent laws and the UK being responsible for defence and international relations. I visited the bigger island of Guernsey, and the smaller islands of Sark, Herm and Lihou.

Sark is one of Europe's lesser-known gems and was my favorite of the four, as one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The island has only about 500 inhabitants, a relaxed vibe and and very nice scenery everywhere I went. The vibrant blue of the sea is complemented by colourful spring flowers and the ever-present yellow gorse bush and its coconut-scented flowers. There are beautiful and well-kept coastal paths that can be used to explore Sark on foot, while some of the "main" roads can be explored by bicycle.

Sark retains its old-time charm. There are no cars and all traffic takes place by bike, carriage or the occasional tractor used for farming. Island life is idyllic and uncomplicated; wildlife such as pheasants and rabbits adds to the charm. There are very few tourists (at least in April, when we visited). Beautiful houses, estates and gardens dot the island; we stayed at the charming Pourqois Pas B&B, which features the island's own chocolate factory, Caragh Chocolates with some delicious products on offer. Locally brewed beer is also very good, while food on the island was enjoyable as well.

The main village features a few shops, cafes and restaurants. There are a number of interesting sites on the island including L'Eperquerie to the North, Sarkhenge and Dixcart Bay to the East, Pilcher Monument to the West and La Coupee and the former Silver Mines to the South (the walk to Dixcart Bay was particularly scenic, while La Coupee is one of the island's most beautiful features). Sark was considered the last feudal state in Europe, with the first elections taking place as late as 2008. Sark is also the first dark sky island in the world with beautiful star-filled skies at night. There was a full Moon when we went, and walking around at night with no light other than the Moon was a very nice experience.

Even closer to Guernsey is the island of Herm with a similarly relaxed vibe and only about 50 inhabitants. Herm makes for an ideal day trip from Guernsey. The island's circumference can be walked in a couple of hours and features scenic shell-filled beaches to the North and beautiful coastal paths to the South. The islands's village features a few houses and a couple of restaurants and shops. Neolithic graves scattered around the island are another interesting feature.

The island of Guernsey, more well-known as a financial center, is larger and more sophisticated while still retaining its island life charm. The "capital" of Saint Peter Port is colourful and a delight to explore, and offers very good food (including excellent fish and seafood). Don't miss touring Castle Cornet while in town.

The Channel Islands were heavily fortified after being conquered by the Germans in WWII. On Gunersey you can visit a number of forts and fortifications preserved after the war, as well as a number of museums including the sombering Military Underground Hospital. Other attractions on the island include The LIttle Chapel and the beautiful Vazon Beach.

Also accessible from Guernsey is tiny Lihou Island which can be accessed on foot during low tides only (check opening times here). A walk around the island takes about one hour.

Additional info:
- Channel Islands entry on Wikipedia
- Sark profile on Wikivoyage
- Herm profile on Wikivoyage
- Guernsey profile on Wikivoyage

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Channel Islands

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