Friday, July 07, 2006

Clifftop walks

Yesterday morning I woke to rain on the tent and decided a bit of a museum-type day was in order. A lady picked me up while I was waiting at the bus-stop and dropped me at the PO. Friendly people these Channel Islanders and nearly all of them seem to know someone living in Kiwiland, mainly in Wellington or Auckland it seems, which explains why I never meet them. Tried to post a parcel home but only sent half of what I intended once I realised the cost - so will need to put up with carrying a few things in my backpack!

I then headed to the Maritime Museum since I now know my ancestors were heavily involved with the sea. They had some interesting info there about tides. Also a facinating model of a woman smuggler. The Channel Islands used to be a great place to get stuff through from France for England to avoid paying duty. In the 1700s a woman suspected of smuggling was strip-searched and a riot ensued so women were never searched again. So these women had HUGE dresses with all manner of gear hidden underneath.

It was time to try and book my passage to Ireland which seemed like it might be horrendously expensive whichever way I did it. But luckily I got a BA flight via Gatwick to Dublin that surprised the travel agent with its cheapness and is certainly heaps cheaper than backtracking to France to get a ferry from Cherbourg.

In the afternoon I went to the Jersey "Living Legend"exhibition- a very well done multi-media presentation on Jersey's history.

Today it dawned a bit finer and I have been able to indulge my first love, walking. There is a great bus system here that means you don't need a car but can get to all the far-flung bays by bus. I caught a bus this morning to L'Etacq which was quite a barren spot on the north-west coast. I hadn't been walking long and it began drizzling with a light wind from the sea in the west. It suited the barren nature of the landscape, with rocky cliffs falling down into the sea. There are also lots of reminders of WW2 in this part of the island, with gun emplacements built by slave labour all over the place.

I came to Gros Nez where there are ruins of a defensive chateau from the 1200s that never actually provided much defence against the French. The rain had eased off by now and I was on the northern coast proper. I kept walking until I reached La Greve de Lecq, enjoying fine views all the way. I was pleased to find I still have some cycling fitness and going uphill in places was not a trial, though generally the walk was reasonably flat. I was surprised to see a couple of very sandy golden beaches, patrolled, though nobody was swimming on this cooler weekday.

At La Greve de Lecq I actually had a sit down lunch in a restaurant, my first in Jersey. For £10 I got a half lobster salad and some Jersey Royal potatoes, as well as strawberries and cream. Very yummy.

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