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My Day Trip to Sark in the Beautiful Channel Islands

Retired counselor, 341 short stories published by FSU. I have 4 sons, love sharing photography, writing, love travel, sunshine, sea & Grace.

An Aerial View of Sark

An Aerial View of Sark

It was a lovely trip to Sark sailing on a 30-foot yacht from Guernsey in the Channel Islands. We left early, surrounded by morning mist as we passed the magnificent Castle Cornet, built between the years 1206 and 1256 in order to protect locals from a French invasion. (Guernsey is 25 miles away from the coast of Normandy in France.)

The sun rose in a flawless blue sky; it was going to be a perfect day. The island of Herm was straight ahead of us and the smaller isle of Jethou was to the right. These lovely islands are privately owned, although you can spend time on Herm, which is only one mile around and has no cars; just a hotel, shop, restaurant and a few residents.

Our sails picked up the wind and we were off. The journey took about two hours. We arrived around the back of Sark and anchored on the high tide, taking the dingy into the jetty. We then had a steep climb up the steps of the cliff. The jetty is at the foot of the cliffs with steps hewn into the steep rock face above.

As we ascended, patches of grass appeared and flowers nodded their heads in the sea breeze. The lichen-crusted rocks gave way to a meadow of sea pinks, blue cornflowers, buttercups, daisies, dandelions and poppies. Their scent brought back memories from my childhood.

The lack of noise is the first thing that hits you. Apart from the droning of bees and the buzzing of flies, there are no cars, no engines, no chaos—just nature. We walked down the sandy road, winding between old-style farm buildings like a village from another era. I breathed the fresh sea air deeply into my lungs. Now there were more noises; gulls called overhead, a thrush singing from a bush beside the dusty road, then a dog barked in the distance. We had stepped back in time: This is the enchantment and charm of Sark.

A Horse-Drawn Cart on Sark

A Horse-Drawn Cart on Sark

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Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands, located 80 miles off the south coast of England. Despite being only three miles long and a mile and a half wide, it has 40 miles of one of the most picturesque coastlines anywhere in the world. The spell of these islands draws visitors back year after year. We lucky ones who lived in Guernsey were able to go there as often as we liked.

The only forms of transport on Sark are tractors, horse-drawn carts or bicycles. We hired bikes and had a wonderful time cycling from “Big Sark” to “Little Sark”, which is joined by a 350-foot-high causeway (with a sheer drop into the rocks and ocean below).

We stopped for a traditional “Sark Cream Tea” in a local tearoom. Cream teas consist of a pot of tea, two large scones each and plenty of Sark cream and homemade strawberry preserve (or as we say in England, jam). It was scrumptious! The Channel Islands cream and butter is unique in its richness and has a deep golden color—the Guernsey/Jersey cows are bred worldwide because of this.

Tea break over, we left our bikes and climbed down to a small bay for a swim. The water was icy cold but invigorating! Back on the bikes and back on 'Big Sark', the road wound its way past pretty flowerbeds towards the village. We rounded a corner with a large sign saying 'DANGEROUS BEND!' (I suppose the bend could have been dangerous in the remote possibility of hurtling into a horse or cow whilst cycling home after a night out at the pub!)

We managed the bend without incident and found ourselves in the high street, approximately a hundred yards of single-row, shack-like shops. There is also a post office and a doctor on call. We finished our musing around the 'shops' then made our way back to the bike depot and turned in the bikes, headed down the steep steps and into the waiting dingy.

Castle Cornet (photo by Mike K.)

Castle Cornet (photo by Mike K.)

Our beautiful day in Sark over, we sailed back into Guernsey Harbor just as the sun was setting. The sun—a large, ruddy ball half sunk into the horizon—spreading deep red, mauve and pink over the night sky and silhouetting the town.

The tide was at its highest point and almost level with the street. The water was calm, like a mirror turned to liquid; our movement created ripples of molten gold as the bow pierced the surface. The island was draped in splendour that late summer evening— yachts bobbing on their moorings, the warm, pink-granite buildings, the perfect sunset and the fresh ocean scent set a lasting memory of a perfect day in paradise.

© 2009 Helen Lewis

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