Travel: A Walk through Jersey History; ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO SEE BRITAIN'S MOST SOUTHERLY ISLAND IS TO SET OFF ON FOOT AND EXPLORE

Coventry Evening Telegraph (England), September 10, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Travel: A Walk through Jersey History; ONE OF THE BEST WAYS TO SEE BRITAIN'S MOST SOUTHERLY ISLAND IS TO SET OFF ON FOOT AND EXPLORE


Byline: Keith Draper

THE tide had turned and was beginning to flood the vast lagoon as we gathered to listen to our guide.

"It's too risky to walk out today," Andrew explained. "The racing waters can easily outrun a man."

They were not the words we wanted to hear when we arrived for our eight- mile adventure.

Instead we settled for a mooch around the rocks and gullies, searching the warm shallows for tiny animals and plants that thrive in the unique environment of Jersey's south-east coast.

We were on Britain's most southern island to sample an amazing variety of walks, many led by specialists like Andrew Syvret, a former stockbroker turned marine biologist. Whether you're a seasoned rambler or just an ambler there's something for all, including stunning coastal vistas and nature walks through winding lanes where walkers, cyclists and horse riders rule.

Undoubtedly though the most unusual is Andrew's sea adventure - across lunar terrain they call the Moon Walk.

At Green Island, the last piece of land which once linked Jersey with France, we looked out across a mosaic of sands, boulder fields and reefs, while Andrew told us about the monster tidal range, with spring levels varying as much as 40 feet.

He told of German soldiers drowning in the swirling waters during the occupation of the island in the last war, and horse-riders seeking refuge at the intriguing Seymour Tower, a watchtower about a mile off-shore.

The real history lesson though came with Hugh Gill's walk in Jersey's capital, St Helier. After travelling the world as a marketing executive he settled in Jersey and found a new life as a historian.

We set off from Liberation Square, with its statue commemorating the 50th anniversary of liberation from German rule, and headed for the old harbour, passing the biggest steam clock in the world, built by John Smith, clockmakers of Derby.

The subsequent hard climb to Mount Bingham, a high point above the harbour with panoramic views, left us breathless, but was well worth the effort.

Dominating the scene was Elizabeth Castle, which can be reached on foot at low tide. It was named by Sir Walter Raleigh after his Queen while he was Governor of Jersey.

A high rock a little further out to sea has an even longer history. Fifteen centuries ago St Helier lived there in a hermit's cell ministering to fishermen and their families.

But cut-throat Norman raiders were on the high seas, and one day spotted St Helier praying alone on the seashore. They believed he'd made the tides and winds prevent their landing - and cut off his head.

Hugh's town walk led us through busy shopping streets, fine terraces and elegant buildings. Since Napoleonic times Jersey has attracted wealthy immigrants because of its low taxes.

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