Island idyll: Sark and Herm
If you’re seeking tranquillity and breathtaking beauty, hop on a boat to visit the islands of Sark and Herm.
The small island of Sark, nestled between Jersey and Guernsey, is known as the crown jewel of the Channel Islands. Although it’s just 2.1 square miles, there’s a lot to keep you occupied.
The easiest way to reach Sark is by the dependable ferry link from Guernsey, which goes several times a day and takes just under an hour. But, if you’d rather power to Sark under your own steam, there’s always a sheltered spot to drop anchor. There are several bays that offer easy anchoring, including Dixcart and Derrible in the south-east, Grande Grève in the south-west and Grève de la Ville on the north-east coast.
There are also a few visitors’ moorings (marked by yellow buoys) to be had in Havre Gosselin and Grève de la Ville. These are free but a donation towards their upkeep – paid at the island’s visitor centre – is much appreciated.
There’s a healthy hike uphill from your mooring or anchorage (some paths are more demanding than others) but you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view and the whole of Sark to explore.
There are miles of tranquil lanes and dramatic coastal footpaths to discover, and no cars to drown out the birdsong. You can choose to explore Sark by foot, hire a bicycle or take a tour by horse and carriage to learn more about the island’s unique history.
Head south across La Coupée to explore the delights of Little Sark. Or head north of the island and you’ll find La Seigneurie Gardens, set within the grounds of a 17th-century manor house. It’s a must for anyone with an interest in horticulture, with colourful blooms on display from spring to autumn.
Near the centre of the island is a charming village, known as The Avenue. Here you’ll find a selection of bars, cafés and tea gardens rants. To be sure of an evening meal, it’s best to book in advance.
Seeking a closer look at Sark’s coastline, caves and wildlife? A trip around the island with local boatman George Guille and his son Morgan comes highly recommended. There's also Adventure Sark, who offer guided tours in kayaks or, for the very adventurous, coasteering.
If you stay overnight and the weather is clear, you’ll be treated to a view of Sark’s remarkably starry sky – the Milky Way is a regular feature. You could also pay a visit to the observatory and learn more about the stars, constellations and galaxies. There are no public streetlights here, which earned Sark the title of the International Dark Sky Association’s world’s first Dark Sky Island in 2011.
Once you’re back on the water, look out for the puffins, guillemots and razorbills that breed here in early summer, and the peregrine falcons that live on Sark all year round. If you’re really lucky, you might even see a flotilla of bottlenose dolphins, which frequently delight boat owners by gliding beneath the bow or jumping alongside them.
Find out more at sark.co.uk and visitguernsey.com.
Closer to Guernsey is the smaller island of Herm. It’s just 1.5 miles long and half a mile wide. Its unspoilt beaches, spectacular coastal views and peaceful atmosphere attract around 100,000 visitors each summer – mostly day trippers from Guernsey. It’s only a 20-minute ferry crossing away, after all.
Herm is the perfect place to get away and relax, with no cars or crowds, and a laidback island lifestyle to be enjoyed.
If you’re partial to a scenic walk, check out the coastal paths, which only take a couple of hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll find the beautiful Shell Beach, with clear waters and light sands that will make you feel as though you’re lazing in the Caribbean. And a little further on, you’ll see Belvoir Bay, a beautiful sheltered cove. If you’re more of a landlubber and don’t fancy snorkelling in the crystal waters or relaxing on the beaches, head inland and visit the ancient St Tugual’s Chapel.
Or you could try to catch a glimpse of Europe’s most southerly puffin-breeding colonies at Puffin Bay. Outdoor Guernsey even runs a kayak puffin patrol, so you can see the birds up close during spring.
Find out more at herm.com and visitguernsey.com.
Top tips for sailing to Sark
- Check the weather and sea conditions before you set off.
- Use transits over ground to help keep on track. Lobster pot markers are great tidal indicators.
- Watch out for tidal races through Gouliot Passage, the narrow channel between Sark and Brecqhou, and the Goulet just outside Creux Harbour.
- Avoid navigating at night, as Sark is rocky and only a few are marked. There’s only one light on the whole island (at the northern tip) and one lighthouse.
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