ISLANDSIs­land SARK, CHAN­NEL

Food and Travel (UK) - - Gourmet Traveller -

This tiny fleck of green float­ing be­tween Eng­land and France may have an area of just 5.45sq km but it is, in fact, an in­de­pen­dent state. The Chan­nel Is­lands are the last rem­nants of the Duchy of Nor­mandy, which was wres­tled away from An­glo-Nor­man con­trol by the French in 1204. The lo­cal gov­ern­ment, known as the Chief Pleas, rule with a sys­tem that can be traced back to Nor­man times. Many of the is­lan­ders are de­scen­dants of the orig­i­nal English set­tlers and older res­i­dents still speak Ser­c­quiais, a di­alect de­scended from Nor­man French.

Sark basks in a self-im­posed time warp. Its pretty lanes and sin­gle main road are en­tirely car-free. In­stead, horse-drawn carts will heave your bags from the har­bour to The Vil­lage (the only one on the is­land), where invit­ing white­washed cot­tages await. The only way to get around is on foot or by bike, so sort a ride from Av­enue Cy­cle Hire and head for the coast. The nar­row isth­mus which con­nects Sark to Lit­tle Sark de­liv­ers glo­ri­ous sea views, while wood­land paths wind their way to farm­houses sell­ing fresh cream from the na­tive Guernsey cows.

Street­lamps are too new­fan­gled for Sark. In fact, it has so lit­tle light pol­lu­tion it of­fi­cially be­came a Dark Sky Com­mu­nity in 2011. Gaze up­wards on a sum­mer’s evening and you’ll be able to see the white smudge of the Milky Way it­self.

With such ut­ter iso­la­tion, it’s no sur­prise that lo­cals are a con­vivial lot. In sum­mer there are a host of quirky fes­ti­vals. Act fast to bag tick­ets to the Sark Folk Fes­ti­val (30 June-2 July), eat your way around the street mar­ket (25 June) and place your bets on which sprightly an­i­mal will be the vic­tor of the fiercely con­tested sheep-rac­ing week­end (21-23 July).

La Sablon­nerie is the is­land’s grand dame ho­tel in a 400-year-old farm­house. Ex­pect nos­tal­gic prints, faded rugs and a restau­rant spe­cial­is­ing in lob­ster. Dou­bles from £237, in­clud­ing a five-course din­ner for two. sablon­ner­iesark.com

Con­dor Fer­ries con­dor­fer­ries.co.uk has reg­u­lar de­par­tures from Portsmouth to Guernsey, from £69 re­turn with car. The Sark Ship­ping Com­pany has sev­eral boats a day from Guernsey from £29 re­turn. sark­ship­ping­com­pany.com

With over 120 per­ma­nently in­hab­ited is­lands sur­round­ing the United King­dom, you don’t need to travel far to en­joy peace and iso­la­tion, says Imo­gen Lepere

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