5 Hikes to Explore Jersey in the Channel Islands
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Margherita Ragg is a mountain junkie and the creator of adventure travel blog The Crowded Planet. Coffee, hiking and sleeping in are some of the things she loves best.
Hiking in Jersey was definitely one of the best surprises during our travels last year. And when I say 'Jersey,' I’m not talking about the U.S. state but about the tiny island between Britain and France, after which New Jersey is named.
Covering just 45 square miles, Jersey Island packs plenty to do. It may be small, but Jersey offers hundreds of miles of hiking paths and a variety of landscapes – from windswept dunes to towering cliffs, from wooded country lanes to fields and beaches. The size of the island makes it easy to move around, and efficient bus service makes it easy to return to your car or accommodations. To make things even better, there are several pubs and teahouses where you can enjoy a relaxing break after hiking.
Jersey is a popular summer destination, but if you opt to visit in spring or autumn you’re likely to have the paths - and the spectacular views - to yourself. No matter when you visit, be sure to check out my 5 favorite Jersey hikes.
1. North Coast Cliff Path
If you’re looking for dramatic scenery – sheer red cliffs plunging down to secluded coves and beaches, steep paths surrounded by bramble and fern, and the wild North Sea stretching as far as the eye can see – the North Coast cliff path is the perfect destination for you. It’s also a great place for bird lovers, with species like seagulls, terns and skylarks often spotted.
In a day, you can easily follow the North Coast cliff path from Rozel to Greve de Lecq, for a distance of about 12 miles (17 km), with a stop at the Priory Inn for lunch. Alternatively, or you can hike a bit further to reach Plemont Beach. It's surrounded by caves and a waterfall, and many recommend it as the best beach in Jersey.
2. South Coast Paths
In contrast to the wild, windy cliffs of the north, the south coast of Jersey is calm and sheltered. Here you'll find St. Helier, the island’s capital, and spectacular St. Aubin’s Bay.
There are several paths to follow along the southern coast of Jersey. Walking from St. Helier to St. Aubin on the other side of the bay is a fun way to spend an afternoon, or you can continue all the way to La Corbiere Lighthouse on the southwestern edge of the island. The lighthouse is located on a headland, which becomes submerged at high tide so make sure you time your visit properly!
3. Val de La Mare Reservoir
The circular path around the Val de la Mare Reservoir is a nice, easy hike to get accustomed to the island and its nature. The 3-mile circular path starts not far from Jersey airport and winds around the reservoir. With views over the west coast of the island, this hike is especially spectacular at sunset if the sky is clear! In the fall, the trees change color and turn the forest into a vibrant wonderland. Tree enthusiasts should also pay a visit to the Forgotten Forest Arboretum to see rare trees from all over the world.
4. Seabed Walk to Icho Tower
One of the things that make Jersey unique are its impressive tides: the difference in the shoreline between high and low tide can be up to two miles. During low tide, it’s possible to visit the intertidal zone, the part of beach that becomes submerged when the high tide rolls back in. Strolling along the seabed you'll see plants and animals that are usually seen underwater.
Off the shore of Jersey Island are defense towers, constructed in the 18th century to protect the island from French invaders. There are only a few days each month when the tide is low enough to walk all the way to Icho Tower, the farthest tower from shore. The walk passes oyster beds and barnacle-topped rocks with anemones weaving in and out of the shallow water.
5. Full Moon or Bioluminescence Walks to Seymour Tower
Seymour is another of Jersey’s offshore towers.It’s a lot easier to reach than Icho, making it a popular destination for a seabed walk. But what really makes Seymour unique is that it can be reached at night during low tide. Local guides organize full moon walks to give visitors the eerie experience of walking on the seabed with only the light from the moon. On nights with no moon, guides lead bioluminescence walks, when bioluminescent plankton shines at its best.
What to Pack
The climate in Jersey is mild compared to Britain, but the island’s isolated location in the middle of the Channel means that the weather changes rapidly. It's not unusual to experience four seasons in the course of a day – or even an hour!
Roll-up or convertible women's outdoor pants are ideal for changing conditions. It gets hot in the sunshine, but temperature swings mean it gets chilly quickly. Spring showers are common, so quick-dry fabrics are best.