Week 48

Wednesday December 2nd 2015 – 48/52 – Pembroke to St. Peter Port

I really never thought I would actually reach this stage, the last leg of the completion of 12 circuits around the Island in 2015, and the thought that there are only 4 more legs to complete my Autism365 challenge for Autism Guernsey – but here I am!

It was pretty gloomy weather conditions as I gazed across the bay at Pembroke, with cloudy and dark skies, but, fortunately, no rain. The German anti-tank wall that dominates the Bay looked even greyer in these conditions; I often wonder just how many tons of concrete and blood, sweat and tears went into the building of this wall?

My usual walking buddies, Anne S and Clive S, were with me again today as we set off in the direction of Fort Le Marchant, which apparently has been standing since 1680 but is now used as a firing range by a group of local shooters. I noticed a fishing boat out at sea on the horizon: it certainly would not have been my preferred option on a day like today with quite a heavy swell and possible rain! We were delighted to see the reinstatement of the coastal path at Fontenelle Bay: the States have done a really good job of pushing back the huge pebble bank towards the sea and restoring the former pathway. Previously on this section we have had to walk over the pebbles or take a detour around the area.

Onward, and around to Fort Doyle, completed in 1805 and named after a former Governor of the island, Sir John Doyle, then on to Beaucette Marina, which more or less dovetails into Fort Doyle. Today it was very quiet apart from the ropes and wires on the boats’ and yachts’ masts clanging in the south/south westerly wind. On we went, and through the lovely quiet lanes around this area of the island, heading back to the coastal path. Hommet Paradis is the largest of the small islands in this area and is protected as a nature reserve, not that far away but dangerous for both human and doggy swimmers due to the rip tides than run through this gap.

Cutting back inland from the coastal path and walking around Bordeaux Harbour we were quite surprised to see two elderly ladies walking up the slipway, having just been in the sea for a swim! Presumably the sea temperatures are still reasonable with the outside air temperatures being higher than they normally are at this time of the year.

 

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It was time for a toilet and coffee break at Bordeaux Kiosk, then we were off around Vale Castle and into the area of the Bridge, with its busy traffic and congested roads.IMG_2617

You cannot see the open sea again from here until you reach Richmond Corner, but then you get this huge half moon route which takes you all the way back into St Peter Port. The sea views are just superb, with the other Channel Islands to see, although today was not good for visibility – but it is also a busy shipping lane, with cruise liners, fast ferries and local ships and boats. I love the grassy areas along the Banques near the Halfway, and have often thought that the installation of some open-access gym equipment would be a very useful addition to facilities in this area.images

As we approached St Peter Port the weather was steadily improving and we had avoided getting a soaking, and despite stopping for coffee we had made the finish in a good time of two and a half hours.

Despite the fact that this leg is some 7 miles in total, it is very flat and less physically demanding than the other 3 stretches, but it is interesting as it takes in sea, rural and built up areas of Guernsey. The next time we do this leg will be at the end of the year, 30th December, the very last leg of this whole 52-week project!

Should you wish to make a donation, as this is the reason I took on the Autism365 challenge, you can send it to Autism Guernsey, Suite 1, Cranwell House, Route du Picquerel, L’Islet, St Sampson’s, GY2 4SD, quoting 71, Eric & Angela Graham.

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 47

Wednesday 25th November 2015 – 47/52 – Pleinmont to Pembroke Bay

Arriving at Pleinmont this morning my mind immediately went back to the previous Wednesday and how difficult the wind had been on Pleinmont Point. The wind, a north westerly, was strong again today, but although this leg is some 11 miles long it is quite flat compared with the much higher altitude of the cliff paths. Clive S was my only companion this morning, but I was very grateful for his company in what would prove to be testing walking conditions.

The tide was well out as we set off for L’Eree, and the coastal road was littered with pieces of seaweed and smallish pebbles that had been washed over the sea wall by the strong tides, with that very distinct smell of seaweed which is such a familiar characteristic of this area throughout the year. We were pleased to get off to a good start and steady walking rhythm, despite the strong wind. There were very few people around due to the dull and windy weather conditions, but the views out to sea were spectacular as we pounded along, and despite the tide being out a long way, you had to feel for any seafarers out in those conditions.

11692712_475919975900090_2147851472430546750_nWe quickly got through to Perelle Bay and around to Richmond, where I was somewhat concerned that the stronger wind would be blowing sand in our eyes, but this did not happen as the sand was quite wet. There were very few dog walkers out today although the few that were out were going all the way to the waterline with their dogs. No matter what the weather is like Vistas Cafe always seems to have people in, and today was no exception, all taking the opportunity to get some refreshment and shelter from the weather. On towards Cobo, and with the pink granite rocks it looked reminiscent of a moon landing site as you viewed the area.

We did have problems with the blowing sand as we hit the sand dunes around Grande Rocque, but it was short lived as we turned inland towards the Port Soif area. There were a few more people around in this area but a stark contrast to the much busier flow there is when the weather is much more favourable.

The sea birds always seem to use the strong winds to their advantage and we were greatly entertained by their hovering in such conditions. With the skies getting darker we were conscious of the probability of getting wet at some point, although time-wise we were well on schedule to catch the 13:04 92 bus from Pembroke Bay. Inevitably the rain did eventually come down, as we hit the Rousse headland, and we had a heavy shower, which fortunately was not prolonged.

It was nice to see the kiosk opposite the Vale Pond nature reserve open and being used but we did not have time to stop otherwise we would likely miss the bus and have an hour to wait in wet clothing – not advisable on a day like today! I was feeling the pace we had set at this stage but it was imperative we did not slack off across the golf club area. There were plenty of golfers around today despite the very strong wind – it must be difficult for them in this very exposed area of the island!

We were delighted to arrive at the bus stop at Pembroke Bay with minutes to spare for our intended bus back home, which duly arrived on time.

Yet another tough leg completed and now down to 5 more to do with 47 completed!

Many thanks to Sarah Snell Photography for the use of her photograph of the rough seas on the west coast – https://www.facebook.com/sarahsnellphotography?fref=ts

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Week 46

Wednesday 18th November 2015 – 46.52 – Icart Point to Pleinmont

It was a very dull start for our tough walk today, but although there were dark clouds above there was no rain and none forecast: the strong wind would probably be our biggest handicap today.

I met Anne S off the 81 bus and we made our way towards the starting line at Icart and we were delighted to be joined by John H, joining us for the first time, whose next birthday will make him an octogenarian. John would be walking part of the leg today, branching off at Petit Bot. If we needed any further indication of what kind of weather to expect today we quickly got it whilst waiting for our 10am start when the wind was whistling strongly off the cliff face and blowing straight into our faces.

The only respite we did get when we started was where there was some shelter from the wind, but there are very few sheltered areas on this stretch so consequently we were very much exposed to the conditions. IMG_0557Despite the difficulty the big bonus was the fabulous sea views with the angry sea battering into the rocks and producing some spectacular photographic opportunities. It was great to have a chat with John along the way: he walks regularly and is very knowledgeable about walks throughout the island.

John dropped off at Petit Bot as agreed, but Clive, who walks regularly with us, also caught us up here, with the intention of going on to the end at Pleinmont. It is always a tough climb out of this bay, but it levels off at the top as you progress through the wooded area and the open road that takes you around to rejoin the cliff path route and on to Le Gouffre. Arriving at the walled area where you turn sharp right up the path to the top the sea view was even more dramatic as the waves crashed into the jutting rocky cliffs in this area. Arriving at the tea room at Le Gouffre and getting some respite from the strong wind, Anne decided to call it a day rather than carry on to Corbiere, which is normally what she would do on this leg. I have nothing but respect and admiration for Anne, Clive and John who turn out on days like today, yet not one of them is under 70 years of age!

Onwards to Corbiere and the even more challenging stretch through to Tielles – today it really was head down and attack for this stretch of cliff path, and this is exactly what we did do, but, boy, those steps seemed even steeper at times! There is always a warm feeling when you do get to Les Tielles knowing full well that the remainder of the walk to Pleinmont is relatively easy going, but today turned out to be the exception with the wind ever increasing in speed and the sea getting angrier by the minute. IMG_0562At one point along this stretch we stopped to watch a quite spectacular occurrence as the sea was smashing into the rocks so hard it produced what can only be described as a sort of ‘bubble machine’, throwing foam with hundreds of bubbles up and above the cliff face and over our heads and settling in the fields behind us.

Struggling to get up and onto the exposed Pleinmont Point,we were literally blown sideways when we did arrive there, the wind was so strong. I had not encountered conditions like this on my previous 11 walks in this area; although quite often windy, today really was exceptional. Out to sea and around the Hanoislighthouse the sea was raging; needless to say we were the only souls out walking in these conditions and overall we had only met 3 men and 2 dogs in this 8 mile stretch from Icart to Pleinmont.

What a relief for both of us to get down off the top of Pleinmont Point and onto the relative calm and tranquility of the road to the kiosk at Portelet.

They were very difficult windy conditions for today’s leg, and one of those that you have to dig deep to get through, but on the plus side the sea views were spectacular, and we now only have to do this leg one more time this year!

 

 

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Week 45

Wednesday 11th November 2015 – 45/52 – St. Peter Port to Icart.

IMG_0087Making my way from the bus terminus in St Peter Port to the start of the walk at the Aquarium steps this morning, I took the opportunity to observe the tremendous work the La Vallette Challenge team (all volunteers) have done in transforming this area and returning it as far as pIMG_0085ossible to how it originally looked, many years ago. What a start they have made already in removing tons of green material from overgrown areas and rejuvenating the unused, decaying bathing pools and changing areas! How
fantastic this will be when finished; it will not only benefit the Guernsey public but will be enjoyed by visitors as well.

Clive was with me this morning as we set off in cloudy but very mild weather conditions – a great morning for the walk today, more like early Spring than an early November day. We went up through Bluebell Wood and on to Fermain Bay where, despite the mild weather, we had the whole Bay to ourselves as there was no kiosk open and no one on the beach, not even a dog walker. When we reached the viewing point and bench after climbing out of the Bay there was a couple with a dog there, but for such a mild morning I thought we would have seen more people out and about. It was just lovely walking from here through to Jerbourg Point as the views across to the other islands are superb and you are also well sheltered; we could even see France.

That long pull up those steep steps at St. Martin’s Point was really hard work today and I was relieved to11659428_475927195899368_833846699546960115_n reach the car park! Two cars only were parked in the large car park, indicating how few holiday-makers are here at this time of the year. There had been very little wind as we approached the Jerbourg area but you always seem to get some as you walk around and re-join the cliff path and head towards the German bunkers. Views out to sea were great today and it was a fabulous angled view down to Petit Port with the tide well out and the lovely expanse of sandy beach exposed. With such good viewing conditions we could clearly see the alternative path up the cliff side out of Petit Port, exiting on the upper cliff path route, although when we eventually arrived at this point it did appear very narrow and you would probably need a good stick to hold back the prickly bushes.

It was pleasant walking round to Moulin Huet in the mild conditions, but disappointing that there were no other walkers taking advantage of them. We did a bit of a detour today at Moulin Huet, taking the upper path route via the toilets and car park and then walking up one side of the valley in the direction of the Pottery and then moving across the road and heading back on the path at the other side; the reason for this was that Anne, who would have walked with us this morning, was unavailable as she was going to be involved with the Floral Guernsey St Martin’s group, who were out in the valley planting crocuses this morning, and I thought we might just see them as we passed through. Fortunately, this was the case, and Anne was there with other volunteers planting the bulbs. There is fantastic work done throughout the year by this group of volunteers, who not only do this work in Moulin Huet but throughout the Parish of St Martin’s.

IMG_0091Re-joining the cliff path we made our way through to Saints Bay taking the opportunity to go down the newly established path to the Saint’s Bay kiosk; I had done it once but Clive had not been on this route. There are 77 steps in total on this new path, but it is a welcome addition for cliff path runners/walkers. The downside, of course is that you have a very steep incline to navigate to rejoin the road at the top, although my understanding is that a further extension to this new path is hoped to be created to go up past the Martello Tower and exit on to the road which goes down to Saints Harbour.

Having now re-joined the original cliff path we quickly made our way to the top of the valley and onwards to our finishing point at Icart Point. It is very unusual not to meet someone on our way around to Icart, but in keeping with the rest of today’s walk, we saw not one person – even the car park at Icart was empty! It was a great walk today despite this, however, and we finished in a record time at 12.45.

Many thanks to Sarah Snell Photography for the use of her photograph of St. Martin’s Point – https://www.facebook.com/sarahsnellphotography?fref=ts

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Week 44

Wednesday 3rd November 2015 – 44/52 – Pembroke Bay to St. Peter Port.

The weather was rather dark and dismal as I arrived at Pembroke Bay, although there was very little wind, which is unusual in this area. I knew neither Clive nor Anne were coming today as both were off the island, but I waited until 10am, just in case anybody else might turn up, but no one did.

There were plenty of dogs and their owners walking along the beach today as I headed off in the direction of Fort Doyle, passing first the hole in the anti-tank wall that is a local hot topic at the moment. The Environment Department are saying they do not have the money to do repairs and in the long term the area should be restored to sandbanks and dunes whilst the local historians are saying it is an important part of the Occupation history and should be restored. No doubt the arguments for and against will rumble on for some while yet.

You quickly come up to the view of Fort Le Marchant, which seems out on a limb, and the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 are quite prominent, presumably indicating the relevant firing ranges for the shooters.

Heading back inland from the Fort the path was closed off due to a huge digger attacking the large shingle bank around the Fontenelle Bay area. The heavy storms last year brought the shingle up and covered the actual footpath, and it has remained like this ever since, but hopefully that path ab0c2f25dd8346347c8410aa0733eec1e6fa1f85will re-emerge once the shingle has been pushed further down the shoreline by the digger. Having to do a detour at this point turned out to be quite fortuitous as I met a former work colleague of my wife, Lyn O, who very kindly put a donation into my collecting box.

I was soon around to Fort Doyle, above and the Beaucette Marina area and heading inland to the quiet and tranquil lanes in this area. It was starting to spit with rain and the clouds were getting heavier, everywhere had a very grey look about it.Beaucette Marina 1

I had a quick look in the quarry as I passed, and saw a huge koi carp swimming around and a group of ducks on the water. Walking in this area is so peaceful, with very few people or vehicles. Onwards to the footpath that takes you around to Bordeaux Harbour and also gives you a fantastic view across to Herm, Sark and Jethou, although today was not ideal for taking photographs. There were loads of seabirds scavenging on the beach here as I walked around the road and on towards the Kiosk. I never fail to see the huge boxer dog here, usually sitting on a seat, but today he was out walking the grass verges with his owner. I took a quick toilet break here and topped up onBordeaux to the islands my fluids before quickly heading off towards St Sampson’s

The skies were now much darker and the rain was heavier as I rounded the Vale Castle and headed inland towards the main shopping area; there were plenty of people about, and the usual busy traffic in this area. I was very grateful to a young mum, with her youngster in a buggy, who stopped me and made a donation into the collecting box. I eventually passed through Southside, feeling rather wet and bedraggled now, and on to Richmond Corner. I was delighted to see the new petrol station open in this area, I’m sure it will do well. When you consider that all we saw for many years was a collection of rusty pipes rising from the ground in this area, what has replaced it is a huge improvement.

The new outfall pipe at the Red Lion area is nearly finished as well, with just the completion of an out building to do. Across the road local contractors are also putting the finishing touches to the new flats that have been created here. I increased my pace somewhat as I passed through here as the weather was not improving. It was nice to see a group of oyster catchers foraging amongst the seaweed as I headed into St Peter Port.

I arrived in town around 10 past 12, which is about par for this leg when I am doing it solo.

That is the 11th circumnavigation of the island completed, 44 of 52, and I am now left with a further 8 walks to do before the end of 2015, with my current fund raising effort for Autism Guernsey standing at £1,030.

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Week 43

Wednesday 28th October 2015 – 43/52 – Pleinmont to Pembroke Bay

Having caught the No 91 bus from St Martin’s to Pleinmont to meet up with my other walking colleagues on this leg, I was pleased to see very pleasant weather conditions in the west of the island for our walk today, and also that there were tourists on the bus who were taking the opportunity to walk at this time of the year. With it being half term we also had my valued walking buddy Clive’s two teenage grandsons with us, Henry and Max, as well as a tennis colleague of mine, Mike, and his friend, Angus, three of them walking with us for the first time, Max having done one previous walk.Fort Grey

Heading off towards Fort Grey, left, you really could not have had better walking conditions than those we had today: the sun was shining brightly and temperatures were around 15 degrees, with minimal wind. There was clear evidence on the road of the spring tides Guernsey is having currently, as there was plenty of seaweed and smaller pebbles scattered across the surface. We had started at a brisk pace and did not take long to reach L’Eree. The tide was receding fast and exposing the large swathes of seaweed left on the beaches, that is oh, so familiar in this area of the coast.

There was plenty of bird life around the Colin Best Nature Reserve, although the large geese were very much predominant. On we went, and around to Perelle, and there was clear evidence of residents clearing up from last night’s high tide, and “battening down the hatches”, as they prepare for another ‘over the sea wall’ tide this evening. Below, Perelle at low tide:Fort Saumarez and Lihou Island from the north

The curving sweep of Vazon Bay looked glorious this morning, with the sun shining brightly, and the large area of sand providing opportunities for families, walkers and dog walkers to do what they enjoy doing best at the seaside. Many people
and children were out and about today in such favourable weather conditions. I was disappointed to see the Richmond Kiosk closed but Vistas at Vazon was doing a roaring trade as we passed there.

IMG_3126Lion RockThere was much debate with my walking colleagues as to which is the actual ‘Lion Rock ‘ as we rounded Albecq: there is so much to admire in that area as the colours and shades are just superb. I have included a recent photograph of what I believe is the Lion Rock – rather a distant shot – and an old watercolour of the rock, looking much more dramatic, painted in 1904 by one Henry B. Wimbush and entitled “Lion Rock, Cobo, Guernsey”. If anyone knows more, or if this is incorrect, please let us know!

Cobo was its usual busy self again with many families out and about in the area. I was delighted that Clive’s wife, Angela, was able to join us at Cobo, although both Mike and Angus ended their walk here, due to prior commitments they both had in the afternoon. Both being accomplished walkers and brimming with local knowledge, I was very grateful for them joining us for the first time and for their donation to the Autism 365 project.

Port SoifWe continued around to Port Soif, left, which Clive remarked looked today as though someone had pulled the plug out, with the tide mark so low exposing the rocky seabed at the mouth of the Bay and the pristine sand at the top, which makes it ideal for swimmers at high tide times. Angela and grandson Henry stopped here, leaving Clive, Max and me to continue to Pembroke Bay and the finishing line.

Max was leading from the front at this point and setting a good pace for Clive and me as we walked on in the glorious, warm sunshine along the coastal path that was busier today, with it being half term. On around to Portinfer, which has been described in guide books as “where rough seas occur”, which over the years have caused many a shipwreck, today not being a good example as the tide was well out, then to Les Pecqueries next. Today was a fabulous opportunity to explore the many rock pools in this area.Rousse to Chouet

We continued around the bays heading towards the very distinctive landmark of Rousse Tower, and Max was very keen to keep going and maintain his pace on the last part of this 11 mile walk. Walking around to the kiosk area opposite Vale Pond, cutting inland before turning again and heading towards Les Amarreurs Harbour, I really struggled to believe we were nearly at the end of October, the weather was so good. On we went to Ladies Bay and L’Ancresse Common – there was plenty of family activity in and around this popular area. Right, Rousse jetty to Ladies’ Bay and Chouet.

After clearing the golfing area of the common we headed across the road and on to the Golf Club area, eventually arriving at the Pembroke Kiosk, completing the leg of the walk in a very respectable time of 3 hours 25 minutes. Today was a great walk, in ideal conditions. I very much appreciated the company of the additional walkers, and full marks and appreciation to Clive’s two grandsons, Henry and Max, who walked so well today.

I returned home on the 92 bus, and it was an absolute delight to view again the beautiful coastline that we had just walked along.

The significance of the completion of this 43/52 leg is that I am now down to single figures (9/52 walks remain) for this Autism365 Challenge!

IMG_0424 IMG_0423We have now included pictures taken from the Guernsey Press on Thursday – thank you so much for the article by Juliet Pouteaux, with photograph by Steve Sarre – it really helps to get the message out there!

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Week 42

Wednesday 21st October 2015 – 42/52 – Icart Point to Pleinmont

IMG_2999I am always conscious of what the weather might throw at us on this tough leg, and took great interest in what the weather forecasters were saying for today. The forecast was for a dullish start with rain coming in around mid-day, but unfortunately the rain came in much earlier, and when I arrived at Icart there was wind and rain to greet me. On the plus side my walking buddy, Clive S, was available today, which meant that, regardless of the weather conditions, I at least had some good company to help me along the way.IMG_2998 (1)

Setting off in the wind, rain and dull grey skies at Icart, I also wanted to complete another exercise: I wanted to count all of the steps we walked up or down today.
Many of you who know and walk this stretch will be aware that there are a lot of steps, just how many it was difficult to predict. I had borrowed a ‘clicker’ counter from a walking colleague, which turned out to be a very useful tool for what I was hoping to achieve.

The wet conditions do make the granite slippery, and it is very important to have good, serviceable boots for walking the cliff paths, particularly when the conditions are wet. Mine are well worn in now, and saw us quickly through to Petit Bot. The cars using the back roads whilst the Forest Road was closed far outnumbered the walkers/dog walkers one usually sees in this area. As usual, it was hard work climbing out of Petit Bot, but there was some relief getting into the shelter of the wooded area at the top from the persistent wet weather.

Onwards we went to Le Gouffre, and looking out to sea and seeing a single fishing boat putting out their lobster pots reminded us of just how unglamorous a job they have in poor weather conditions like today, with poor visibility an additional hazard. We met a few hardy souls down at the car park at Le Gouffre, wrapping up well for a quick walk around the exposed headland in the rain.

Although we were making good time we were also getting steadily wetter, despite being well dressed for the conditions, and knew that the further west we headed, the stronger the wind would probably get. Arriving at Corbiere car park, which was completely empty, we were aware that the next half hour or so was really going to push our physical capabilities to the limit under such conditions, but despite this, and the loneliness, there is still something that drives you on and gets you through it. The natural beauty of the cliffs can still be admired even at this time of the year, the large expanse of light brown bracken being a very good example today.

I really appreciated having Clive with me today, he knows this cliff path like the back of his hand and adapts his pace well to suit the terrain, so much so that we arrived at Les Tielles well on schedule, with an opportunity for a quick drinks break. Despite knowing we had overcome the most difficult stretch on this leg we also knew that once we got onto Pleinmont Point we were likely to encounter stronger winds and possibly driving rain. Full marks to an elderly gentleman we met further along the cliff path who was heading in the opposite direction, for St Peter Port: he was no spring chicken and had a rather large rucksack on his back; needless to say he was the first walker/dog walker we had seen since11236426_475923332566421_4497307807939285114_n Le Gouffre. Sure enough the wind increased and the rain was hammering into our faces as we headed over the top of Pleinmont, but we had spectacular views across to the Hanois Lighthouse, it has to be said.

What a contrast and a relief when we eventually arrived at the bottom of the steps at the Fairy Ring – the wind and rain had subsided, and there was shelter from the battering we had encountered on the top. The gentle run in to the Portelet Kiosk along the tarmac road was sheer bliss after 3 hours of difficult walking conditions today.

Oh, by the way, I do have a sore finger from hitting the click counter: would you believe it, we climbed up/down 1,924 steps in completing this leg from Icart to Pleinmont today!

I have only experienced one other tougher leg than today, which was also on this stretch when I completed it alone back in September.

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