Guernsey Things to Do

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  • Things to Do
    by Skillsbus
  • Things to Do
    by Skillsbus

Most Recent Things to Do in Guernsey

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    Visit Herm or Sark

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 17, 2013

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    Trident Ferry arrives at Herm

    Once you've travelled around Guernsey why not take a trip to either Herm or Sark? Ferries leave St Peter Port daily (subject to weather conditions of course). It usually leaves
    from 'Cambridge Steps' but can also depart from either the 'Weighbridge' or 'Inter-
    Island Quay' depending on the height of the tide.The first and last boats always leave from Cambridge Steps, where the booking kiosk is situated. The journey time to Herm is about 20 minutes.

    Once on Herm, you can just follow the well defined paths to find the places of interest. (See my Herm page - Herm Island )

    The journey from Guernsey to Sark by boat is a distance of 9 miles and takes approximately 45 minutes. The service is operated all year round during daylight hours. This service is operated by the Isle of Sark Shipping Company, and ferries depart from St Julian's Pier.

    Fees: The standard fare from St Peter Port to Herm and return is about £11 at time of writing, and considerably more for the longer trip to Sark

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    Castle Cornet

    by Geoff_Wright Written Feb 17, 2013

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    Castle Cornet in the background
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    Castle Cornet dominates the seaward skyline of St Peter Port. Dating from the 13th century, it was built upon a rocky islet until a breakwater and bridge were constructed during the 19th century. It has been upgraded throughout thee years, withstanding invasion by the French during the Hundred Years War, and the English during the English Civil War. More recently by the Germans during the Second World War.

    There are several museums within the Castle and grounds, and it will take you an hour or three to see everything. I would suggest suitable soft shoes - it's not suitable for ladies with high heels for example! There are many steep steps too, so ensure your children are wide awake and really interested in being dragged around!

    Do also be aware of the Noon Day Gun, which, of course, is fired at Midday, from one of the old cannon.

    Admission Charges: Adult - £9.50; Senior Citizen - £6.75; Child - £2.00; Child under 7 (accompanied) - Free

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    Golden Beaches

    by Geoff_Wright Written Feb 17, 2013

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    Cobo Bay Beach
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    Guernsey is blessed with a number of wonderful beaches. There are a number of nice beaches in the southeast part of the Island, and many of these involve steepish descents to access them. Unfortunately I've not seen them yet. The widest expanses of sandy beaches are those along the rugged northwest coast, where the Bus Route 7 and 7A runs, every 30 minutes or so. The beaches at Vazron Bay and Cobo Bay are, perhaps the most popular, but they are never crowded, unlike the English beaches.

    There are several beachside cafes and ice cream stalls along this coast, as well as restaurants and pubs.

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    Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum

    by Geoff_Wright Updated Feb 16, 2013

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    Fort Grey
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    Fort Grey is the home of the Shipwreck Museum. It is a Martello Tower (Fort) from the Napoleonic Wars, and is situated on the west coast in Rocquaine Bay. You can get there by No 7 bus from St Peter Port, and after leaving the stop for the Pleinmont Hotel (where the bus turns around), you will see it clearly enough. The bus stops there if you ring the bell!

    Entrance to the Museum is easy enough, and last year (2012) the admission charge was £4 per adult (£3 for Senior Citizens). It's only a small museum as museums go, but you'll find that half an hour or so will find you wondering however the sailors of old ever survived some of the shipwrecks! There are artefacts that divers have recovered from several wrecks, some from the 1700's. Until recent times ships have regularlly been wrecked off Guernsey, and this has mainly been prevented now by the introduction to the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) in the Channel, which forces ships to navigate in clearly defined 'channels', away from danger.

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    German Naval Signals H. Q.

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 16, 2012

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    The Headquarters of the German Naval Commander Channel Islands was established in the nearby La Collinette Hotel, and the Signal HQ was responsible for all radio traffic to and from Germany and the other Islands. Visit the last operational Signals HQ that was running up to 9th May 1945, using the Enigma code machines that were being decoded by the staff at Bletchley Park.

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    Rousse Tower

    by Skillsbus Updated Oct 16, 2012

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    The late 18th C was a time of great tension between England and France and in 1778 the British Government decided to improve Guernsey's defences by commissioning a chain of 15 towers linked to gun batteries situated around the coast.

    The majority of these towers were built around the exposed beaches to the north of the Island. Nine were sited to protect the then separate Clos Du Valle, which was especially vulnerable to landings in force and could, if occupied, pose a serious threat to the southern parishes.

    The Rousse and Chouet towers were built on the headlands commanding the entrance to Grand Havre Bay. This led to the saltwater channel (Braye du Valle) which separated the Clos du Valle from the rest of Guernsey.

    At Rousse the tower and battery, which replaced an earlier battery closer to the shoreline, are uniquely combined in a single fortification.

    The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the building of the Route Militaire and the infilling of the Braye du Valle by General John Doyle reduced the importance of these towers.

    Restoration of Rousse Tower and Magazine began in 1994, and was preceded by archaeological excavations carried out by Guernsey Museum in 1993.

    The excavation exposed five gun platforms around the tower with cobbling between. The stone used was from Purbeck, Dorset and would have been brought in especially for the construction of the battery. Roman numerals can be seen carved on some of the stones. These were used by the masons as a tally system.

    The sod parapet was found to be made of layers of turf and sand. The bricks which had lined the gun embrasures were missing and had probably been re-used elsewhere.

    Although they are popularly called Martello towers the Guernsey towers preceded the much larger and stronger true Martello towers named after the 1794 battle of Mortella in Corsica. During this engagement a coastal tower defied the might of the Royal Navy over two days of intensive fighting.

    The British Government maintained a permanent regular garrison force on Guernsey. With the threat of invasion by France these troops alone could not defend all potential landing sites so they were supported by the local militia.

    Three years military service was compulsory for all Guernsey men and they served in one of four regiments; Town, North, South and West.

    Manning the loopholed towers was the responsibility of the militia in whose area a tower stood.

    Rousse Tower, magazine and battery were manned by the 2nd (North) Regiment. This regiment was made up of companies from the Vale, Castel and St Sampson's parishes. The North Regiment was denoted by green facings (collars and cuffs) on their uniforms.

    The full military strength at Rousse Tower was a Captain, a sergeant and twenty men. The Captain was also responsible for three additional nearby batteries.

    Militia men assigned to the towers were drawn from local farmers, fishermen and quarrymen. Because of their work they were permitted to appoint 'substitutes' for their duties at the towers. It was not unusual for a man's wife or child to be nominated to take his place.

    Admission: Free
    Opening: April - October early morning until dusk

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    National Trust of Guernsey Folk and Costume Museum

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 16, 2012

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    Set in stables and other outbuildings of an old country house in Guernsey’s largest park, the Folk and Costume Museum depicts life as it used to be in the Island around 100 years ago. Displays include domestic life, farming, fishing and seafaring, trades, the tomato industry and transport. The recently much enlarged museum also has several displays on Guernsey costume and a magnificent fully-furnished scale model of a Victorian town house.

    National Trust Members: free.
    Open mid March - end of October: Open daily.

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    Priaulx Library

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 16, 2012

    Standing in its own beautiful grounds on the outskirts of St. Peter Port, the Priaulx Library is Guernsey’s premier centre for local studies and family history research and holds important collections of newspapers, documents and photographs. Winner of the JPC Historic Attractions of the Year award in 2005, it is a wonderful place for tourists and clients alike to browse in the atmosphere of a Victorian library. Free admission at all times and open six days a week throughout the year.

    Free Admission

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    Fort Hommet Gun Casemate

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 16, 2012

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    The Fort Hommet 105 mm coastal defence gun casement bunker is a fully restored gun casemate that was part of Fortress Guernsey constructed by the forces of Nazi Germany between 1940 and 1945.
    Fort Hommet was constructed on the Vazon Bay Headland in the late Napoleonic Wars era as part of the anti-French defences although there had been fortifications recorded here as far back as 1680. A Martello tower was built on the site in 1804 with further batteries and a barracks being added later. On 20 October 1941, after the occupation of the Channel Islands, a directive ordered by Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the Islands would be turned into an impregnable reinforced concrete fortress as part of the Atlantic Wall, and the Organisation Todt constructed fortifications round the coast. As part of these plans this restored casement was one of 21 similar standard constructions built to house 10.5cm K331(f) guns. Four such casemates were installed at Fort Hommet and make up part of Stützpunkt (Strongpoint) Rotenstein.
    The construction work began in April 1943 after the completion of a railway link between Vazon and St Peter Port which was the essential link needed for the transportation of the vast quantity of materials required to build the fortifications. The schedule of work consisted of initial site excavations followed by a concrete base poured. Wooden shuttering would then be built and steel reinforcing would be installed in the form of cradles. The concrete would then be poured in a continuous fashion giving each structure its immense strength. Once cured, the shuttering was removed and the bunker was fitted out. The process was carried out in a matter of weeks.
    After the liberation of Guernsey in 1945, the fortifications were stripped of all their fixtures and fittings by both the British Army and the islanders. By the late 1940s all the metal fittings including guns and blast doors were removed for their scrap value. Many of the bunkers including this casemate at Fort Hommet, were buried in an attempt to return the coastal landscape to its pre-war condition.

    Opening: April - October: Tuesday & Saturday 2-5pm. December - February: Closed.

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    Jerbourg Point

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    Jerbourg Point or the Jerbourg Peninsula is the southeastern point of the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy, lying within St Martin Parish. It marks the end of the east coast cliffs and beginning of the south coast cliffs. It provides scenic views of the Little Russel and many other islands.
    People have lived on this point since Neolithic times and further during the Bronze age and Medieval age. It thus has a long history of habitation and defence system establishment, in the form of mounds and ditches, given its strategic location. Pottery has been found in various parts of Jerbourg Point. Stone instruments, flint knives and arrow-heads, have been discovered in the earthworks, which extend from Bay Portelet on the west to La Bate des Murs near Le Bee du Nez. During medieval times, defence on the point was strengthened to fend off raids from the French.

    A bomb-proof and gas-proof bunker was built during World War II by the Germans to control the large gun positions erected in the vicinity. During the war, the Doyle Monument, which existed here, was demolished and was replaced by a smaller version only after the war. The original column erected at this point was in honour of Sir John Doyle, former Governor of the Island, in recognition of his contribution to building a road network and creating other facilities. The point today is home to the Hotel Jerbourg.

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    Les Creux ès Faies (The Fairy Grotto) Passage Tomb

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    This ancient burial site is set on a hillock opposite the island of Lihou on Guernsey's west coast. The tomb dates to around 3,000 BC and was in use for successive burials until the late Bronze Age, around 1,000 BC. Two original cap stones of the bottle-shaped tomb survive. Traditonal folklore states that the tomb was the entrance to fairyland and that every week the night fairies would emerge to play near the Le Trépied passage tomb.

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    Fort Saumarez & L'Eree Headland

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    Fort Saumarez
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    Fort Saumarez is a Martello tower in Saint Peter, Guernsey, on a headland that forms the northern tip of L'Erée and extends to the Lihou causeway. It was constructed in 1804 on the site of an existing battery after the onset of the Napoleonic Wars, and during the tenure (1803-1813) of Lieutenant Governor General Sir John Doyle. Doyle named the tower for the Guernsey native and renowned Royal Navy Captain, Sir James Saumarez, who at the time was commander of British naval forces in the Channel Islands. To simplify matters, Doyle had a local builder named Gray construct the tower, and two others, see below, under the rubric of "fieldworks", thereby bypassing the Ordnance Corps.

    The Fort Saumarez tower, like the other two Guernsey Martello towers, Fort Grey and Fort Hommet, was intended as a keep for the battery in which it was placed. The Guernsey Martellos are smaller than the British towers, with the Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet towers being smaller than the Fort Grey tower. Each mounted a 24-pounder carronade on the roof to protect the battery. Fort Saumarez and Fort Hommet also have exterior staircases up to the second floor.

    Doyle was responsible for substantial fortification efforts elsewhere in Guernsey, including the construction of the two other Martello towers. Because of its location, Fort Saumarez also served as one of six to ten optical telegraph stations that ringed the coast to give warning of approaching vessels.

    In 1852, the battery at Fort Saumarez received 32-pounder guns and 8" shell guns in place of some of its 24-pounder guns.

    During World War II and the German occupation of the Channel Islands, the Germans recognized the enduring utility of the site and built a four-storey concrete observation tower on top of the fort. At some point the battery around the Fort Saumarez tower was demolished. Fort Saumarez is now privately owned and not publicly accessible.
    It is possible to view the tower without actually entering it.

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    The Little Chapel

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    The little Chapel
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    A work of art and a labour of love, the Little Chapel is possibly the smallest chapel in the world. It was built by Brother Déodat who started work in March 1914. His plan was to create a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. Guardianship of the Little Chapel now rests with Blanchelande Girls College, which is run by a Charitable Trust. The Little Chapel is beautifully decorated with seashells, pebbles and colourful pieces of broken china and the College has an ongoing programme of repairs and improvements.

    There is no charge to enter the Chapel it relies totally on public donations.

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    Fort Grey & Shipwreck Museum

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum
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    Fort Grey is located at Rocquaine, on Guernsey's rocky west coast, near the infamous Hanois reefs - site of many historic shipwrecks. The small martello tower is situated on a rocky islet just offshore but connected by a stone causeway. It contains a museum about Guernsey shipwrecks, with many salvaged artefacts and related illustrations.
    Open during the period April 1 - October 30, daily 10.00 - 16.30 hr.

    Visiting Fort Grey involves ascending and descending steps and traversing uneven surfaces.

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    Pleinmont Observation Tower

    by Skillsbus Written Oct 14, 2012

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    Pleinmont Tower is an imposing, five story observation tower, which was built by the Germans in 1942, as part of a network of similar towers. The tower is located at Torteval and has an unrivalled view of the south west coast.

    The tower has been fully restored back to how it looked during the occupation years. It is open to the public and original rangefinders can be used. There is also a reconstructed barrack room.

    Open from April to October - Wednesdays & Sundays only 2-5pm.

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