Wednesday, 4 July 2018

A Visit To Guernsey - Sun, Sea and German Bunkers

Today on my blog there is a guest post from Mr W, (Marcus), my other half, and my partner in crime on Fly Drive Explore. We were invited to Guernsey by Condor Ferries but I was busy so he took the trip on his own.

On this trip, I (Mr W) was allowed to venture out on my own. Before I get started, let's get some Guernsey facts out of the way.

Facts
  • The island of Guernsey sits in the English Channel just off the coast of Normandy, France.
  • Guernsey is not part of the UK, it is a self-governing British Crown dependency.
  • It is the second largest of the Channel Islands.
  • Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables while in exile in Guernsey.
  • The Channel Islands represent the last remnants of the medieval Dukedom of Normandy.
  • The Channel Islands were the only British territories to be occupied by the Germans during World War Two.
  • All the postboxes are blue.


St. Peter Port Harbour


Getting To Guernsey

Guernsey is only 3 hours by the Condor Fast Ferry service from Poole, Dorset. This is a great option if you want to take your car. Also, being a relatively short trip, it’s not too bad if you are a poor sailor.

Guernsey can also be reached by the Condor Ferries conventional service from Portsmouth which takes 7 hours.

If you don’t want to take your car or are if you are not too keen on boats then flying is an option. A number of airlines have routes from many UK regional airports to Guernsey with an average flight time of only 45 minutes or shorter.

Where I Stayed


Les Rocquettes Hotel, St. Peter Port

I stayed at Les Rocquettes Hotel, a former country house about a 15-minutes walk from St. Peter Port harbourside and only a 5-minute drive from the ferry.

The hotel is part of a family run hotel group and featured a health suite and indoor swimming pool. Although Guernsey is a few degrees warming than the mainland it is good to have that indoor pool. There were also a couple of bars, a restaurant and a patio area.


Lounge Of The Les Roquettes Hotel

The staff were friendly and helpful, especially the bar staff who gave me useful local information about the town and getting around the island.

There was also plenty of free onsite parking available.

Touring The Island


The dramatic setting of Victor Hugo’s Les Travailleurs de la Mer

Guernsey is only 25 square miles in size so most places are closer than they look on the map. Although take care when driving as there are lots of narrow country roads and the maximum speed limit on the island is only 35mph.Fort Grey Martello Tower and shipwreck museum



Fort Grey Gun

Only 20 minutes from St. Peter Port is Fort Grey dating from the early 1800’s. A Martello tower located on a tidal rock in the middle of Rocquaine Bay. The fort now houses a very interesting shipwreck museum containing a surprising variety of objects recovered from the wrecks which have occurred along this treacherous coast.

Watch your head as you enter the fort as the stone doorway is only about 5 foot high!

The German Occupation


The restored gun at Batterie Dollmann, Pleinmont Guernsey

Wherever you are in Guernsey you are never that far away from the signs of the German occupation during WWII. These can range from small machine gun nests to German concrete observation towers and much larger sites such as Batterie Mirus, the former location of the largest guns in the Channel Islands.

The Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans from June 1940 to May 1945. During this period, anyone caught trying to escape to Britain was imprisoned or shot.

When touring these picturesque and now tranquil locations it is hard to believe that all this occurred in living memory.




The restored German Batterie Scharnhorst

I was lucky to be shown around the German defences by Andy Walker from ‘Festung Guernsey’. Festung Guernsey is a group of local enthusiasts who restore and conserve the German fortifications around the island. Although they are not all open to the public they do have a number of open days throughout the year.

Whether you are interested in history or not what was fascinating were some of the personal touches at many of these sites. Pictures, names and writings etched onto the walls by the young soldiers during the war, one included the sentence in German ‘I want to go home!’.

St. Peter Port



The lighthouse at the end of the Castle Breakwater

On my last day, I had time to stroll down to St, Peter Port itself and explore the town and harbour. The sun was out and it was great to just relax with a cup of coffee alongside the pretty harbour.

Although enjoyable, I still had some serious sightseeing to do. There is plenty to do in St Peter Port including La Vallette Underground Military Museum and the German Naval Signals HQ but in front of me, overlooking the town and harbour was the imposing Castle Cornet.

Containing five museums and four historic gardens there is enough on offer for you to spend most of the day. Also, as I relaxed and drank my coffee the castle's noonday canon was fired, jolting me into sightseeing action.



Castle Cornet and its museums

The Castle was built over 800 years ago and has been reused and remodelled over the centuries. Also, until 1811 it held the only prison on the island. During World War II a small garrison of German troops occupied the castle.

Amongst the five museums in the castle, the Maritime Museum was particularly interesting with exhibits from Roman times up to the present day. There a very good display about Guernsey's Roman ship which was found in the harbour only 300 metres from the museum.

Unfortunately, my time in Guernsey had come to an end and I had to catch the ferry back to the UK. I felt that during my visit I'd only scratched the surface of what Guernsey and its neighbouring islands had to offer.


Check out Mr W's video on Fly Drive Explore

Whether it's history, sightseeing, good food and drink or just lazing in the sun on a secluded beach, there is definitely something for you.


Pin for later


With a ferry trip of only 3 hours, Guernsey is closer than you think so what's stopping you? Check out the Visit Guernsey website for things to do and see and accommodation.

Maybe next time I'll even take Mrs W!

*Marcus was a guest of Condor Ferries and Visit Guernsey

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27 comments

  1. I actually didn't realise that Guernsey was so long to get to via ferry, I'd definitely want the 3 hour option as opposed to 7 hours x

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    1. Mr W said the 3 hour crossing went quickly.

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  2. One day we’ll get to visit the Channel Islands! So much wonderful history to explore x

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  3. I didn’t know that the post boxes are blue that’s strange thing when you are so used to red ones. The furest south I’ve been is the isle of weight but gurneys looks incredible and I would love to visit the island and explore it.

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    1. It's a brilliant island to explore Kirsty.

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  4. I would definitely love to visit Guernsey one day, i have heard so much about it but yet to venture out.

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  5. I think as i spend so much time on Instagram i definitely am drawn to more pretty places lately and Guernsey has that covered and more. How stunning :)

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  6. My husband was living in Guernsey when we met, and we spent a year travelling between there and Manchester Airport to see each other. We've been back a number of times since we got married, and have taken our children 3 times. It is such a magical place! I haven't visited the German Batterie Scharnhorst, though. Sometime to do on our next visit!

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  7. A visit to the Channel Islands is definitely on our family travel plans in the future, lots of great ideas here of things to do.

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  8. I had no idea it was so easy and quick to get to Guernsey! Looks like a lovely place! :)

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  9. I can't believe I haven't visited Guernsey and it's only a 45 min flight too! I'm often get seasick - I think 3 hours would be too much for me to handle. Guernsey would make the perfect weekend getaway ...sun, sea and sand and many sights to visit too! So picturesque!

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    1. It was very smooth when Mr W went but of course that can change.

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  10. I can’t believe we haven’t visited Guernsey. It looks like it would be great for a long weekend with so much to see and do. The museums and history sound fascinating.

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    1. Yes, exactly. So much amazing food there too.

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  11. I would love to go back to Guernsey - we went in February and everything I wanted to see was closed

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    1. That's a shame but an excuse to go back maybe?

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  12. Guernsey looks like an amazing place to be in. I will add it as one of my must-visit holiday spots xx

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  13. Getting to Guernsey would involve a flight back to the UK for me but I think it would be worth. The history of the island sounds fascinating, especially during WW2.

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  14. I've always wanted to visit Guernsey. It looks like such a lovely place to explore :)

    Louise x

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  15. I absolutely love Guernsey and there's loads more i want to do there too. Love your photos, makes me long to return.

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  16. We were lucky enough to visit Guernsey a couple of weeks ago too. We loved it so much we didn’t want to come home. I would have never considered it as a holiday venue before but now we can’t any wait to go back!! X

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