We started todays walk at a little car park just beyond Archirondel. We must have managed all but 50 steps before the big fat raindrops descended. But the weather didn’t dampen my enthusiasm or turn me back. I choose to see the beauty of our island in the reflections in the puddles, or the castle shrouded in mist, or nature’s bounty of a bud here and luscious green leaves there. For those of you who follow the Facebook page you’ll know I try and walk most days as an antidote for having an office job, safe in the knowledge that my health and well being demand it.
At the begining of 2017 I signed up to Country Walking magazines’ #Walk1000Miles challenge. And now, when I find myself feeling stuffed from the standard Christmas over-indulgence, I have 21 miles to go and just 3 days to reach my target. And I will do it!
I have already signed up to the same challenge for 2018 – and thought I’d share it with you to see if I can tempt you to join me and help me keep focused. #Walk1000Miles Says – Change your life one step at a time. 1000 miles a year equates to only 2.74 miles a day. You can do it in your lunch hour! Be a fitter, stronger, happier, healthier you. For more information you can visit www.walk1000miles.co.uk
I thought I’d start publishing routes and photographs with a little more detail on the blog, rather than just photographs on the facebook page – and see if that might tempt you out to walk the route too. On your own, with friends, walking the dog – your pace, your way. Once we are up and running I’ll see if there is any interest in doing some walks together.
Let me start with today’s walk in the wind and the rain. It was a glorious day for a walk. It always is! I love the coves between Archirondel and St Catherines, where the erosion of the Rozel conglomerate releases the purple hued pebbles to make up the beaches. The rain just intensified their beautiful colour.
From the car park we dropped down the steps to the sea wall and walked in the direction of St Catherine’s Breakwater. The path along here is a mixture of the sea wall itself, a narrow path behind the sea wall, or some concrete walk-ways built over the bedrock, definitely not a path for young children.
The heavy rain soon caught up with us, and though it would have been easy to turn back we just kept going. There are a few Popular trees down on this little stretch of the walk – and the path has now been temporarily closed for clearing. I love how heavy with rain the sky looks here – almost like a water colour. On the horizon we can see the silouette of Archirondel Tower – a Conway round tower built in 1793. The tower originally stood on its own little island, La Roche Rondel, but then the causeway was built to connect it to the mainland. Planned to form part of another breakwater to match St Catherines and create a full harbour, this was abandoned when the harbour area kept silting up and the ships of the British Navy grew too large in their design.
A fifteenth century granite cross stands guard at the top of the lifeboat slip. Unusually, Jersey has two parish churches which are dedicated to St Martin; St Martin-le-Vieux in the parish of St Martin and St Martin de Grouville in the parish of Grouville.
Despite the best attempts of the wind and the rain, the weather is actually so mild that the daffodils are beginning to bloom and there is a strong garlic scent from the erupting three cornered leeks. Still plenty to forage along this pathway – from large clumps of sea beet, to wild garlic and even some fungi.
St Catherines Tower, another Conway round tower, is also known as the White Tower because of the white paint on its granite face against the sea, which acts as a navigational aid for seafarers. This quiet area was a safe harbour and popular with ship builders. Jersey Heritage information tells me that the largest shipbuilders in the bay were J & T Le Huquet who built 43 vessels in their shipyard on the beach by the White Tower between 1850 and 1879
In parts the path clings to the bedrock of Rozel Conglomerate, but you are always above the high tide mark. Normally this means your feet stay dry – but not on a day such as this!
We were delighted by a collection of rock art depictions on the sea wall at Belval Cove. From birds to lizards and even a bike, the abandoned art is fashioned from a collection of different coloured stones from the cove.
We were afforded a glimpse through the trees to the magnificent 640 metre long arm of St Catherin’s breakwater. The new harbour was commissioned in 1847 (and there is a huge granite date stone at its start) when there were concerns that a renewed war with France was imminent.
Bizarrely, on one side of the breakwater the rain was so heavy and misty that the view to Archirondel Tower and Gorey Castle were all but obscured.
But turn the corner to the other side of Verclut and the weather front was passing, the rain halted and the day was filled once more with light and warmth.
The mossy green lower path leads down the the beach with view across to the castle folly at Fliquet and another Conway round tower, believed to be the earliest one of its kind.
The path climbs steeply for a small way as you walk out of St Catherines, where we are met with relics from the long-gone Jersey railway, stood upright in the centre of the path.
At the top of the hill, the signposted footpath moves out of the small woodland to weave its way across the plateau on private farmland. I’m not sure who the farmer is here, but they work under LEAF – an association that Links Environement And Farming, where lots of wild-life only areas have been created to help the local wild-life thrive. With the expanse of land opening out to beautiful vista’s, I could indulge my love of tree skeletons once more, this time with a background of vibrant blue sky.
We were afforded an unusual view across the breakwater, where we could see the clouds and rain had reached the Normandy coast of France. We were walking above steep coils, already ploughed and ready for the first of the new season Jersey royals.
Steep steps take you down off the plateau once more to the coast. I love this tiny hobbit-like structure and would love to take a peak inside, imagining a home worthy of Bilbo Baggins hidden behind the faded red door. Marc Yates from History Alive confirmed that it is in fact a gun powder store used when quarrying the stone when the breakwaters were being built.
Along the roadside path were a cascade of exuberant ferns, their luscious green foliage shining brightly after the rain pour.
Lots of life on the decaying floor of the woodland sections of the the path, where various fungi nestle in the leaf mulch and work their magic with the soil microbiology.
The curved slip at La Maison is both functional and aesthetically pleasing on the eyes. A good launch pad for kayaks in the summer, it was bereft of all activities today, enjoying it’s hibernation until spring.
Across the field the Populars look fairly small and slim, it’s only when you stand beneath their expanse on the coast path you really appreciate how vast they are. Sadly one is downed in the Gale Force 9 winds. I hope there is a program of replanting for our damaged trees or we shall all be the worst off for it.
The majestic trees of the Pine Walk are beginning to feel the effect of their precarious position at the coastal edges, being battered by winds. One has already been cut down recently, and another has been cordoned off and you can see where the roots are lifting the road surface as it gently leans towards the sea.
The sky began to reflect the sunset light. No fierce, fiery red sunset tonight, just a soft whisper of pink on the horizon. Tree skeletons and sunsets, enough to make my heart skip a beat.
At the end of the walk we reach the St Martin Millenium cross. As part of Jersey’s Millennium celebrations, each Parish erected a Millennium cross and a Millennium stone. The stones were initiated by La Société Jersiaise as type of modern megalithic network in the island – a nod to the islands exciting archaeological record . The crosses mark 2000 years of Christianity and recall the wayside crosses lost at the Reformation.
Back to the start once more. Strava tells me I walked 2.3 miles on this little circuit, although it seems to have lost me on the initial stretch on the sea wall path.
So how about it? Fancy #Walk1000miles with me? Got to the website, take the pledge, download your certificate to motivate you, and dust off those hiking boots. Lets do this together!