Tuesday 31 May 2016

Devil's Hole to Sorel Point

The second part of our walk (see the map at the beginning of my previous post) took us from Devil's Hole to Sorel Point.

Devil's Hole is a natural crater in the otherwise solid rocks, caused by the sea eroding the roof of what was once a cave until it collapsed and created the crater 200 ft deep. It received its current name only when in 1851 a ship was wrecked nearby. The waves tossed the ship's figurehead inside the blowhole, where it was found when people were trying to rescue (or at least find the body of) one of the ship's crew who had tried to swim ashore in order to get help. The man was never seen again, but when the figurehead turned up, it was thought to be the devil's work. 

A sculptor created a statue out of the figurehead, which was originally placed at the top of the hole as an early tourist attraction. Over the years, several replicas were made, and the statue was moved uphill, where it now stands in the middle of a pond, seemingly contemplating the still, green, quiet, dimly lit clearing in the woods.
He does not look very scary, does he? The little ducklings didn't seem to think so - they walked across the water on the plants growing in the pond, swimming where the green was less thick, always under their mother's watchful eyes. I'm afraid you can't really see them in the picture, but they were there.

You can't really look into the hole, but you can hear the water rushing in and out with each wave. The closest you can get without climbing over the fence (which is there for a good reason!) is this:

The other picture was taken by O.K. and shows Devil's Hole from a distance. The dent in the landscape is the crater.
We sat on a bench in the sun there for a while before taking up our walk again, now to Sorel Point.
There in the distance you can see it! The white spot on the cliff top is a lighthouse. The tongue of pinkish rocks reaching out into the sea is Sorel Point, Jersey's northernmost tip.

What an unusual pattern of criss-crossing paths! Who made them? See the next picture :-)

Again, Sorel Point. This is one of O.K. pictures. The rocks really are that pink.

Standing just above Sorel Point... trying to make out the coast of France (Normandy), which is really not that far away. But it was too hazy above the water to spot it, or any of the other Channel Islands, as we had been told to expect. Never mind - it would have been nice to have a clearer view, but we enjoyed our walk anyway.

The tiny lighthouse is really just a huge lamp inside a protective concrete housing, no room there for a lighthouse keeper to live. It was built in 1938 and is still in use.

Sorel Point was also the turning point of our walk. We knew that we'd be able to get a bus only from the Priory Inn at the top of the path to Devil's Hole, but we didn't head straight back as we were not in a hurry to end this, our last walk here, so soon.
Instead, we took a little detour, which I will show you in my next post. 

Sunday 29 May 2016

La Grève de Lecq to Devil's Hole

It was Friday, the 13th, and our last full day on Jersey. We woke up to sunshine, which was going to last all day - it was, as is sometimes the case when you're on holiday, the best day of the entire week.

We had already decided about what we wanted to do: another cliff path walk (yes, another one!).
The idea was to walk from La Grève de Lecq to Sorel Point, the northernmost point of the island, stopping at Devil's Hole.

Because we took so many pictures, I shall break up our walk into two posts. The first part is marked red on the map, the second blue. The blue arrow points to Devil's Hole.

Ready? Let's go!

Two buses took us to Le Grève de Lecq, a small place with a big beach. I liked the blue theme and the bunting:

As on our previous walks, once again the cliff path offers spectacular views. After yesterday's rain, it was still rather hazy over the water, so that we could not see very far out.

 The path was as rocky and steep as this only in parts:

In my next post, I'll show and tell you more about Devil's Hole and the second half of our walk.

Saturday 28 May 2016

A Rainy Day on Jersey

Thursday, the 12th of May, is quickly told: It rained all day, and heavily enough for us not to want to go for a walk. Instead, we spent the first half of the day in St. Helier's Jersey Museum and Merchant's House, and then took a bus to La Mare Wine Estate for a guided tour.

I liked the Jersey Museum and Merchant's House well enough. A friendly volunteer welcomed us, showed us where we could leave our bags and told us what to find where in the complex of buildings making up the museum, art gallery and merchant's house.
We did not explore the gallery, as we wanted to catch a specific bus to La Mare, but the museum offered plenty of interesting information in well presented displays.

For me, the Merchant's House was what I had most wanted to see: On the museum's website (see link above), I had read that it was a "beautifully restored merchant's house" as you would have typically found in the second half of the 19th century. Visitors were allowed to wander around the dimly gas-lit rooms at will; in the nursery, you could even open boxes and drawers and (if you dared) ride the large rocking horse.
I did like it, I really did... and yet, I missed the glimpses behind the scenes I find so fascinating: There was not one servant's room, kitchen or store room to see, only the wealthy family members' rooms. Never mind, I should not complain, for it was all lovingly done with much attention to detail.

As planned, we took a bus to La Mare Wine Estate, where we only had to wait a short while until the guided tour began. Again, I had expected a little more... we did not see the actual production, although it had been advertised with these words: "La Mare Estate guided tours will take you around the beautiful vineyards, orchards, the Cognac style distillery and the chocolate production kitchen." 
Of course, the rain was nobody's fault but meant that we did not go around the vineyards and orchards. At the distillery, the explanations given were interesting enough, but no work was being done, so we couldn't actually see it happening. The chocolate kitchen - it won't surprise you to read that I was looking forward to that particularly, but we only stood in front of a glass panel between us and the - empty and tiny - kitchen. 
The wine tasting was nice, and we visited the shop, buying a few souvenirs for ourselves and our loved ones at home, but altogether it was not quite what we expected for nearly a tenner per person.
Lunch at the estate was very good, and once we were back in St. Helier, the rain finally stopped so that we could walk round a little bit before taking another bus home to Bouley Bay.

Both the museums and wine estate were interesting, and good options for a rainy day such as this, but we would have much preferred having a little less water coming from above. Still, we made the most of it and consoled ourselves with very nice food and each other's company.

John, here is a picture I took especially for you:

O.K. is now used to me taking pictures and announcing "I want to take a picture of this for Kay, or for John, or..." - it's part of what makes blogland such a nice place for me, this dialogue between us via our blogs and commeting on each other's posts.

Friday 27 May 2016

Mont Orgueil

On the 11th of May, we woke up to a fog so dense we could hardly see the cliff top from our window. But more often than not, fog means a good day ahead, and we were determined not to let a little fog stop us from doing what we meant to do: See Mont Orgueil, the castle that had been described to us as "THE Castle" (see the end of my next-to-last post).

It was the first bus into town after breakfast, and there change to another line taking us to the small town (village?) of Gorey, overlooked by Mont Orgueil. This was our first view of the castle:
Fog does lend a special atmosphere to a place, don't you think? Climbing up towards the castle, we saw a bit more of it:
Looking out across the sea, there was a thin, white glow where water and sky met. The fog was lit up from behind, and it looked very surreal and very beautiful. Photos can only give a poor impression of it:
More of the castle:

Once you step inside, you find a maze of winding steps, dark passages, rooms large and small opening in the most unexpected corners. You turn another corner and find yet another staircase, and yet another passage to more rooms. For a while, you think you'll never manage to see them all, but we did get our bearings eventually and found all the nooks and crannies. We loved being able to go exploring on our own, without having to join a guided tour. Very well done of the Jersey Heritage people!

Every now and then, you reach a terrace or top of a tower, from where you can enjoy spectacular views... with or without fog:

There are various sculptures and other art works (such as holographic pictures) dotted around the castle. This huge silver tree represents all the kings and queens of England, a bit like a family tree.

A lady in medieval dress (down to her shoes) was playing music on various instruments of the time. In between playing, she explained about daily life in the castle as it once was. Just one of many volunteers doing a great job!

Slowly but surely, the sun was dissolving the fog:

Gorey Harbour:

The same house again, now without fog. Somehow, O.K. and I were fascinated by its layout. You can tell it is brand new (or at least the additions are), and parts of it are built into the slope.

Can anyone tell me the name of this bird? I thought it could be some kind of wagtail, but I am not sure:

We sat down for a snack at the nice little café/tea room at the bottom of the castle:

When we took another stroll around the harbour late in the afternoon, the fog was gone. Compare this picture to the first one of this post:

The following pictures are all by O.K.

Silly tourists!!

Mont Orgueil has actually three names. "Mont Orgueil" means "Mount Pride" or "Haughty Mount" in Jerriais, according to wikipedia. In English, the castle is Gorey Castle (the small town/village at its feet is called Gorey). Some Jerriais-speaking folk still call it lé Vièr Châté (the Old Castle). And old it is - construction began in the year 1204.

For centuries, it was Jersey's main defensive structure. But times changed, and so did weapons. With the advance of gunpowder, a castle like this was outdated, and when in the late 1500s Elizabeth Castle was being built, Mont Orgueil lost its importance.
Throughout the 17th century, it was still being used, now mainly as a prison.

The castle found various uses over the following centuries, and during the German occupation in the 1940s, it was fortified again - this time in a way as to blend in with the old walls. You can read a lot more in the above linked wikipedia article, and of course at the Jersey Heritage website.