This, the largest of the Channel Islands, has thrived within the United Kingdom since 1204, but is proudly independent, self-governing and determined to preserve its unique appeal to discerning visitors.
Jersey is nine miles long by five miles wide (that’s smaller than Greater London!) YETDESPITETHE SMALL SIZE, Jersey has over 500 miles of roadway and 15mph Green Lanes. It means that wherever you are in the island, YOU’RENEVERMORE THAN TEN MINUTES AWAY FROM these a.
JERSEY IS ONLY NINE MILES LONG BY FIVE MILES WIDE but manages to pack in to this confined space a microcosm of modern life. Lying in sheltered seclusion, much closer to the Normandy coast than the English, Jersey has, despite WWII deprivations and the relentless pressure of modern capitalism, magnificently survived, and thrived, rewarding its multitude of annual visitors with an unexpected kaleidoscope of pleasure. Mother Nature has been kind to Jersey, giving it a continental micro-climate of Gulf Stream warmth and adequate rainfall, without extremes of temperature and perfect for the crops and animals of the many centuries of agricultural life, and the inherent security of island existence, deterrent to all but the most determined of invaders. By and large, the farms, homesteads and country lanes still dominate the landscape outside St Helier, the vibrant capital and only ‘town’, although many of the traditional farmhouses and cottages, granite and stoutly-built, have become commuter properties as agriculture has become less labour-intensive. To protect the landscape, and the rights of native Islanders, while not excluding the, usually, wealth-bringing (and -generating), newcomers, legislation has been carefully put in place to create a twin-level property market, equitable and rigidly-enforced. Ever since gentlefolk of the Victorian and Edwardian eras discovered the joys of seaside holidays, the leisure appeal of Jersey’s wildlife, its easily-walked landscape and cliff paths and, above all, the fabulous beaches and bays has been magnetic and tourism contributes 10% of the island’s GDP. Although there is an extensive public bus network, most visitors will hire a car at the airport (www.hertz.co.uk/jersey) to give the flexibility to tour the quieter, more remote areas. The glorious expanses of St Aubin’s, on the south coast, and St Ouen’s, to the west, are world-famous, and easily accessed, but my personal preferences are St Brelade’s (and its luxuriant gardens), Portelet (just reward for the physical effort) and Greve de Lecq, with its vivid, deepgolden sand. There are so many to choose from, each with its own special attraction, you will enjoy finding your own favourite. Scattered across the island are signs of pre-historic human habitation, none more striking than ‘La Hougue Bie’, where you can actually go inside the recently-excavated, Neolithic burial-mound and, in another section, see the conservation work on Europe’s largest horde of around 50000 Iron Age coins, found at Grouville in 2012. At Hamptonne, you will fall into a recreation of 15th century country life, crafts and traditions and, everywhere you look on Jersey, you find defence installations, from the huge, 13th century Mont Orgueil Castle, and its forbidding 16th century successor, Elizabeth Castle, through the guardhouses and Martello towers of the 18th/19th to the concrete excesses of WWII, the ineradicable symbols of one deluded man’s paranoia. Many can (and must) be visited but, atop the cliff at La Corbiere, overlooking the famous lighthouse, is The Radio Tower, a 1941, cylindrical, 6-storey observation post converted, ingeniously, by Jersey Heritage into the most amazing, and atmospheric, holiday let, with uninterrupted 360 degree views from the top-floor lounge (www.jerseyheritage.org). Moving evidence of the wartime occupation can be found amongst the exhibits in the splendid Maritime Museum, Jersey Museum and Jersey Archive. For the full story, you should visit the War Tunnels, excavated by slave labour and an unfinished attempt to build an underground
BECAUSEOFTHE popularity of Jersey wool, knitted jumpers came to be called jerseys, AFTERTHEISLAND, the first recording of a jumper being called a jersey is in 1837
WWII hospital. It has now become the site of a stunning exhibition, brilliantly telling of that awful period, with films, displays, documents, vehicles and militaria. The past sixty years have seen the financial services industry ‘boom’ and Jersey’s GDP has expanded, hugely, as a result. In St Helier, there are marinas, the harbour is improved and land has been reclaimed, Hong Kong style, from the sea. Modern office-blocks now line the (previously) seafront Esplanade where modest hotels used to dominate. The enormous wealth generated has seen a burgeoning level of business and leisure activity in the capital, with vibrant day- and nightlife and a town centre thronged and buzzing. The pedestrianised, King Street/queen Street precinct is the busiest zone but new hotels, bars, cafes and shops abound and even the sleepier sidestreets and squares have come to life. It’s curiously appropriate that, just four miles away from this 21st century powerhouse, sits the other-worldly paradise that is the fantastic Durrell Wildlife Park, dedicated to the conservation of those animal species threatened by the march of progress. Jersey is like that – an economic miracle on an unchanging, idyllic island.
Pictured Right: Jersey's Oyster beds. There are many varied tours available in Jersey, and one of our favourites is to join a local resident for a walk among the oyster and mussel beds in the Royal Bay of Grouville, followed by the opportunity to sample fresh Jersey Oysters at the nearby Seymour Inn. Hear about the modern cultivation of shellfish in Jersey - the biggest oyster beds in the British Isles - and the fascinating history of the oyster fishery, which in the 19th century was a major industry. (jersey.com/oyster-trail)