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One of the joys of a break in Guernsey is that all the local attractions are within easy reach and traffic congestion is virtually unheard of – so slow down and enjoy exploring at a leisurely pace!
The quayside makes for a fascinating walk – admire the boats and watch all the comings and goings. Eventually you’ll end up at Castle Cornet, the fortress that has stood guard over St Peter Port for nearly 800 years. It now houses four fascinating museums: The Story of Castle Cornet Museum, The Maritime Museum, The 201 Squadron (RAF) Museum and the Militia Museum. The 13th century castle also boasts various gardens that have been created through the ages to provide those living here with herbs, vegetables and flowers. These include the 16th century Sutler’s Garden, the 17th century Lambert Garden, the 18th century Governor’s Garden and the Master Gunner’s Garden.
Located in picturesque Saumarez Park, the Folk and Costume Museum offers a vivid insight into life on the island 100 years ago. Displays include domestic life, farming, fishing and seafaring, trades, the tomato industry, local costume and transport.
Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum and Martello Tower, built in 1804, sits at Rocquaine on Guernsey’s rocky west coast. Over the years, many vessels have come to grief on this beautiful but treacherous coast, and it now houses a host of fascinating objects and displays. Discover the gripping stories surrounding a string of disasters ranging from HMS Sprightly in 1777 to the Vermontborg in 2003.
It’s hard to go anywhere on the island without coming across reminders of Guernsey’s occupation during the war – the island is studded with German fortifications and many of the locals still remember this traumatic episode in their recent history.
Reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” will give you a fascinating insight but you should also visit The German Occupation Museum. Opened in 1966 it has undoubtedly the finest collection of WWII relics in the Channel Islands. In addition to the vast range of displays and dioramas, audio-visual technology is used to convey the stories and experiences of islanders during the five years of enemy occupation. You can also visit La Valette German Underground Museum, formerly a fuel storage depot for U-boats, and the huge German Military Underground Hospital.
Author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo spent 14 years in exile in Guernsey during the reign of Napoleon III. His house, decorated in flamboyant style by Hugo himself, is well preserved in its original condition. His son Charles described it as "a veritable three-storey autograph, a poem in several rooms".
The Guernsey Museum & Art Gallery houses a variety of exhibitions including ‘The Story of Guernsey’. This shows the development of the Island and its people through artefacts from Victorian collectors. There’s also a changing programme of temporary exhibitions in the Rona Cole and Brian White Galleries.
The Guernsey cliff paths are a spectacular way to see some of the islands most glorious natural beauty spots. They stretch for twenty four miles and overlook some spectacular secluded beaches. Cobo Beach is a favourite spot for watching the sun dip below the horizon - take a picnic, sit on the beach, and watch the day come to a glorious close.
Guernsey’s famous Bluebell Woods are a spectacular around the beginning of April - the ground is carpeted in blues and purples as the bulbs burst into bloom. You should also take the opportunity to visit what is possibly the smallest chapel in the world. Built by Brother Déodat who started work in 1914, it is a miniature version of the famous grotto and basilica at Lourdes, beautifully decorated with seashells, pebbles and colourful pieces of broken china. Another popular excursion is the Millennium Walk at the Reservoir.
Guernsey also has a wealth of experienced accredited tour guides who are eager to share their knowledge of the island, its history and its outstanding beauty. A programme of walking and coach tours is available or a personal guide can be arranged if required.
The neighbouring islands are a tempting prospect, easily reached by local ferry. Herm Island is a tranquil beach paradise that’s only 20 minutes over the waves – perfect for a day trip and a drink in the Mermaid Tavern. The Island of Sark is just 40 minutes on the ferry but is a huge step back in time to a tranquil traffic-free environment overflowing with natural beauty. Hire a bike, take a horse drawn carriage, tuck into freshly baked scones with sumptuous Sark cream.
Alderney is a 15 minute hop by plane and well worth the trip – you’ll discover an unspoilt environment, dramatic shipwrecks, impressive forts and bunkers.
Randall’s Brewery Tours are very popular. One of the brewers will take you step by step through the process, explaining the equipment and ingredients, before you enjoy a pint in their very own bar.
Catherine Best’s jewellery workshop is also an extremely pleasurable way to pass the time – it’s not hard to understand why her reputation extends far beyone the shores of Guernsey.