The Roaches

The Jersey Coastal Path - August 15th-18th 2016

Sean Bond, Mark Jones, Jon Gilson, Rich Salt, Ken Hodgkinson, Alison Bond, Mike Riley, Sarah Austin, Sandra Brooks, Jim Eason
Terry Jones, Gordon Darlington, Jane Salt, Netty Salt, Ann Baxter, Dave Swarbrook

Route Map. 48.4 miles over 4 days. Start and finish in St Helier.

DAY 1 - St Helier to La Pulente (9.5 miles)

It's customary for me to start the walk write up with a description of the weather that had been experienced up to the week of the walk so here goes - so far, the summer of 2016 had been shit. It was hard to remember a summer that had been so dark, dismal and wet so the chances of hitting a good spell of weather for our annual walk were looking pretty slim. Fortunately, if we were to endure a continuation of the summer's grimness, this year's walk was something of a rare treat in that it was only just under 50 miles in length and we were based in the same hotel for the entire week so everything was easier from the viewpoint of effort.

The original 17 had been cut down to 16 as Susan had to pull out for personal reasons. She'd probably thought that the summer wouldn't change and that a wet week in Jersey could easily be replaced by a hot week elsewhere. I was beginning to think she'd done the right thing as the week before the walk delivered the same perpetual darkness as experienced throughout the entire summer.

Despite the lack of faith in the weather the coach journey to Liverpool Airport kicked our mission off. Ken had somehow managed to book the wrong flights but at least they were to and from Jersey on the correct dates. Ken's kencentration levels seem to have let him down so he joined us in St Helier later in the day and arranged to change his return flight to allow him to make the ongoing return trip on the prebooked coach. This prompted one of Ken's friends to come up with the following poem:

"WAITING FOR KEN" by "The Peak Poet"

Our small walking party of fifteen or so
Are over in Jersey and raring to go
We long to go rambling down by the sea
But we're waiting for Ken, where the hell can he be?

I'm sure he was there when we boarded the plane
But just after that, no-one saw him again
Is he locked in the loo with a panic attack?
Has he asked for the pilot to take him straight back?

He probably got on a different flight
And just didn't notice, because it was night
It could be he's landed in Islamic State
Held hostage by ISIS, and waiting his fate

Or over in Rio and having some fun
Taking part in the games which have surely begun
I know he likes running, as straight as an Arrow
Perhaps he's that bastard who legged up Mo Farrah

His bed is unruffled, his breakfast is cold
"We don't think he's coming" his Hotel is told
But all off his friends, on the cliffs you will see
Out looking for Ken, where the hell can he be?

The weather on the morning of the first day was superb. We decided to take our customary starting photo in Liberation Square (kindly taken by a tourist girly) and set off through the bustling streets of St Helier to the beach in St Aubin's Bay.

Traffic issues on the route out of St Helier. The team waited for over an hour on the traffic island before realising that the little red man that prevented them from crossing was in fact Terry.

It wasn't long before we reached the sea front where we'd remain for a good 2.5 miles. The first few hundred yards had to be walked on the prom but as the tide went out and the seaweed turned to sand we moved onto the beach and took in the sun.

On the beach. Gordon shows off his trusty (or is it crusty?) Port Vale socks.

Alison had decided to wear her shorts but didn't apply any sun cream because her legs don't burn. This was Alison's decision based on a few days in Seville where her legs didn't burn during long days of 40c temperatures. Can you guess what could possibly go wrong readers? Jim had also decided to make the most of the superb weather by wearing walking trousers. His legs, apparently, aren't fit for human consumption.

We moved across the sand in order to find firmest parts which seemed to be found further out to sea but it did make for easier progress.

Looking over the green slime to Elizabeth Castle.

It wasn't long before we reached the beautiful little town of St Aubin. The weather and setting was so nice that many of the team decided to have an early walk ice cream - something that hadn't been enjoyed on other walks. I was beginning to think that this was a sign of the demise of our long distance walks and that the chances of persuading anyone to take on a 90+ miler in the hills of the frozen north were now so slim that press gangs would be required.

As the day's walk was an easy 9.5 miler we decided to walk off route and take a look at St Aubin's fort.

Terry tucks into an ice cream. No rucsac either. This is too easy.

Gordon in ice cream heaven. This particular specimen was just over 7 inches tall.

Ann savours the magic ice cream moment whilst Mike wonders why Gordon is licking a large plastic ice cream.

St Aubin's fort is now an outward bound centre so you can't actually enter the building itself. This was a bit of a dissapointment so after a bit of exploring we headed back to St Aubin in order to see what the next stage of the walk would bring as we were about to head into more dramatic scenery.

Heading back from St Aubin's fort.

The route climbed out of St Aubin on a warm breezefree road but before too long we turned left into a wooded area where the shade was enjoyed by all.

Netty, Rich, Jon and Alison (with her sun cream free legs) about to leave the shade.

Once out of the wood the path headed towards Noirmont where we came across a fantastic collection of German-built command bunkers and observation towers. This is known as the Batterie Lothringen which is where huge guns were installed to protect the island from the British (who never actually bothered to see if the guns worked).

The views off the point were superb so the team spent some time exploring the various war paraphenalia and looking to the west where Portelet Bay could now be seen.

Noir Mont tower and the Batterie Lothringen. There's a few red faces already. Jon's Aryan looks and germanic background made him feel strangely at home.

The small but popular Portelet Bay saw us losing the height gained from St Aubin and hitting a fleshpot of a beach. After a few hundred yards of struggling through deep sand, where we could hear the beach babes thinking 'What the fuck are they doing walking in this heat?, the route decided to recapture the height lost in a sweaty spectacular fashion.

Portelet Bay. Some of the team are on the beach, the rest can be seen descending the steps.

The climb up from the bay was a tad sweaty and prompted us to question the need to descend to the bay in the first place but there were a few rather fetching bikini clad ladies to be viewed so the effort was well worth it.

Mark grins as I take a photo of Dave's enjoyable ascent from Portelet Bay.

After a quick drink stop we headed around a scenic granite headland with great views along the coast. Next was the descent (yes - another one) to what is probably Jersey's busiest tourist hotspot - St Brelade. An area of large boulders had to be negotiated before the sandy beach was reached but we all survived.

The blue sea and golden sands of St Brelade's Bay. Looks like we're going downhill again though.

After a pleasant walk along the beach we reached the main centre of St Brelade and decided, for the second time, to treat ourselves to ice cream and a cold drink. This was tough going. I decided to purchase a couple of ice cold cans of Coke but after downing one decided that I'd been too greedy so kept one for later. I was also burping rather loudly.

Ready for the off at St Brelade. Hats at the ready!

Not long after passing the church the route climbed again but the coastal scenery more than made up for the effort. We climbed high above the small bay of Beau Port, resisting the opportunity to climb down to it, where an impressive headland was reached along with a welcome breeze.

Beau Port. Another stunning bay.

Jim fitted his headcam to capture the author ascending one of the many small climbs.

The same Jimcam was used to capture the others on the same climb (including a thumbs up from Alison).

The route continued along the coast before heading slight inland towards the island's prison. The prison seemed all rather grim after walking through so many glorious locations but Jim decided to plot the route ahead by fitting his Jim head radar....

Jim's head radar fitting.

We were soon back on the coastal path with the next target being the rocky headland of La Corbiere. We were beginning to spread out as a team as the heat and climbing began to take its toll. The plan was to hit La Pulente well before our 5pm pickup time so we could enjoy a beer or three but the slowing pace looked like this may be a close call.

Beginning to spread out near La Corbiere.

We passed a desalination plant, which was a bit of an eyesore, before reaching another WW2 German battery on Corbiere itself. The view over to the lighthouse was stunning...

Corbiere lighthouse in the sun. If the tide was right and time allowed I'd planned to walk over to the lighthouse but unfortunately, in both cases, this wasn't possible.

The route now descended from Corbiere on the road towards La Petit Port. The end of the day's walk was near.

I zoomed off in order to ensure that the pub I'd promised was actually a) there and b) open. A minor sting in the tail was experienced in that the route took a snaky path around a small headland before finally dropping into La Pulente. I raced towards the pub, took off my rucsac and ordered 5 beers that were to be awarded to the first 5 people that reached the pub. It was now rather warm outside so the ice cold lager was urgently required to quench the thirst and signal the end of what had been a superb day's walking.

La Pulente and St Ouen's Bay. I can see the pub but is it open?

Dave, Sarah, Netty, Jon and Alison enjoying the beer at La Pulente.

The next test was to see if the transport that I'd organised would actually turn up at 5pm. If I'm honest I was hoping that the coach was delayed so that an extra beer or two could be enjoyed but the coach did turn up at 5pm as planned - bugger!

The beers were drank and we boarded the coach for the 20 minute journey to St Helier. The first day had been fantastic and with the forecast for the following day looking even better, if that was possible, we were all looking forward to another great day.

DAY 2 - La Pulente to Greve de Lecq (10.5 miles)

We jumped on our coach at 9:30am in lovely sunshine. The coach would take us back to La Pulente where we'd hop straight onto the beach and hopefully enjoy another great day's coastal walk to Greve de Lecq.

Alison's unburnable legs had actually burnt so she decided that trousers would replace the shorts worn on the previous day. Sandra, who had also burnt her legs, decided to smother them in sun cream and continue the walk in shorts.

We reached La Pulente at around 9:50am and after a quick 'sort out' hit the huge beach on St Ouen's bay.

Ready for the off at La Pulente. Jane can't wait. Ken had got on the correct coach.

We had a good 3+ miles of beach walking to enjoy before reaching Le Grand Etacquerel. It looked a long way off.

The team spreads out along St Ouen's bay.

As had been the case in St Aubin's bay on the previous day we took a convoluted route over the sands in order to find the firmest sections. There was no hurry - this was spot on.

Terry had been taking in the rays since arriving in Jersey but today would give him the chance to return home with a bronzed torso. Readers of a nervous dispostion are advised to look away now....

Terry decides to strip. The others walk away in disgust.

The sun and sand was bringing out the romantic side of the team.Jim however, decided to maintain Victorian levels of decency.

Alison's beach signature.

We eventually reached Le Grand Etacquerel and took a quick break. The flat beach was no more and in front of us lay a sharp uphill section. Dave was really looking forward to this.

Le grand ascension from Le Grand Etacquerel.

Our experiences from the previous day's climbs meant that we knew that this climb would be worth it. It was. On reaching the 'summit' we were rewarded with excellent views back over to La Corbiere and onwards to the north. The path was excellent and surrounded by purple heather and in the distance was more WW2 debris.

The first Pighole brigade marches towards the German observation tower. Corporal Eason, forming the advance party, attacks first as he's wearing leg protection. Dave, forming the heavy unit division, follows up.

After clearing the German bodies we headed further north with great cliff views to our left. After passing the race course we began to head east towards the next point of interest, Grosnez castle and beyond that, La Greve au Lanchon - yet another superb sandy bay.

The ruins of Grosnez castle.

The path was now surrounded by bracken but the eyes were firmly planted on the impressive La Greve au Lanchon (or Plemont). It was getting rather warm.

It's all gone green. The bracken infested path to La Greve au Lanchon.

We decided that rather than descend to the beach, eat lunch and then reascend that we'd continue around the bay and find a suitable lunch spot. On occasion we were treated to a cooling sea breeze so we hoped that wherever we lunched, the breeze would be present. Shortly after rounding the bay we came across an old observation tower so we found a suitable grassy spot and sat down to enjoy our lunch.

La Greve au Lanchon (or Plemont). Lunch would be taken next to the tower that can be seen in the distance (centre left).

There was no need to rush our lunch as the day's destination was only 3 miles away. The breeze came and went and all was good. Both the map and the guide book suggested that the next 3 miles would drop in and out of small valleys so a bit of descent and ascent was to be 'enjoyed'. Bracken would be our main companion on the path and for some reason it always seems to make hot weather feel even hotter. Saying that, no one was complaining. Greve de Lecq - here we come!

Ann, Mike and Alison enjoying the up on the route to Greve de Lecq. Alison gives it the thumbs up again.

The map and the guide book were right - there were plenty of ups and downs to be had so the group spread out again as each of us took on the climbs at our own pace.

Oh look, we're going down again.

The 'big down' was followed by a 'big up'. The north coast was certainly more undulating than the south and east coasts so we knew we were in for a bit of exercise. At the top of one particularly sweaty ascent a spot of shade was found where the cool sea breeze made a reappearance. This was enjoyed by all but Sandra was developing a blister which could spell end her walk and her chance to claim her first gold.

The undulating terrain and extensive plant life on Jersey provides ideal conditions for Davus Sweaticus. It was originally believed that the species had drank itself to death many centuries ago but this fine specimen still survives.

After a few more undulations Greve de Lecq was now just below us. We descended for the final time and took off our boots outside the first pub we came across (the Prince of Wales). We had nearly 2 full hours before our 5pm pick up so some of us decided to watch the beach frolics from the pub's veranda whilst others walked down to the beach to dip in the sea. It was now very warm so both options achieved the desired aim.

La Greve de Lecq - very pleasant.

Lager for Gordon. Coffee for Jane.

Something tells me that Sarah, Jon and Mark are enjoying their pints.

Another great day had been enjoyed and the beery beachy ending was perfect. The following day would see us moving further to the east and more ups and downs of the north coast. The forecast, yet again, was excellent.

The night's restaurant of choice was the Merchant House where we enjoyed the pleasant experience of eating outdoors.

Al fresco eating at the Merchant House. Ken's long arms allowed him to hug Netty.

DAY 3 - Greve de Lecq to Bouley Bay (11.5 miles)

The latter part of the previous day's walk suggested that the remaining section of the northern coast would be the toughest part of the walk. Netty was suffering from blisters so decided to call it a day whereas Davus Sweaticus decided that, being the last of the species, that the threat of extinction from further walking was too risky so joined Netty on the knackered bus.

The coach dropped the rest of us off at Greve de Lecq in stunning weather which seemed less stunning as we immediately climbed the road out of the bay.

Road work from Bouley Bay. It seemed warmer than the previous days but slightly hazy.

The route missed a section of the coast due to the positioning of the shooting range but the short detour soon saw us rejoin the coastal path and its many ups and downs.

Rich considers ending it all as the loneliness of walking without Netty hits home. Fortunately Rich decided against jumping to proclaim that it was the best day he'd ever had.

The first point of interest along the route was the Devil's Hole which we came across after a short spell of up and down in the bracken.

On the way to the Devil's Hole. It can be seen just behind the flying seagull.

A tarmacced path led down to the Devil's Hole. The signs gave the impression that it was definitely worth the down and up so we all set off to view this natural wonder. After a short descent we reached the viewing platform and looking into a big hole - the Devil's Hole. I suppose it was quite impressive but could have done with the sea smashing against the rocks to give it the little bit of spice that it needed. Anyway, the views back to where we'd walked were great so we soaked the views in and climbed back up to the main coastal path.

Looking west from the Devil's Hole. The path winded its way across the bracken covered slopes.

The Devil's Hole. Good, but not great.

We were now reaching what seemed to be the hottest point of the week so far. We headed away from the Devil's Hole to a dry steamy headland and took drinks in the searing heat.

Team sweaty hit the coast.

The path snaked across the slopes towards Sorel head where the view to the west was one of an idyllic rocky coastline whereas the view to the east was one of a great big quarry. The northern tip of Jersey is out of bounds thanks to the quarry which meant that the route veered inland in order to miss this massive blot on the landscape.

Team stop at Sorel. Terry's looking glum because he's been told he can't have any more sweeties.

Once off the road the route passed a mast that we'd been able to see for quite a few miles. It wasn't the most scenic part of the walk but after a few hundred yards and a few ups and downs we were back in the company of the multicoloured heather. Bonne Nuit, our planned lunch stop, was just around the corner but Jim helped us in finding our exact location by fitting his Jim's head transmitter....

More jimfoolery.

The quarry, road walking and the mast are now behind us. This is better!

We descended from what was probably the highest point of the island to sea level at Bonne Nuit bay. This meant that at some point we'd need to reclaim our height which meant more uphill sweatiness. Never mind - we can climb anything in any temperature.

Lunch was enjoyed by the harbour in Bonne Nuit but I knew that hard work was next on the agenda. One of the boat owners couldn't move his boat from the mud bit Jim helped out with one of his attachments...

Jim's jib sees some action.

Lunch at Bonne Nuit. Oooh, look at those paths going uphill in the distance.

We left Bonne Nuit and climbed the road out of the bay where we soon came across signs for the 'Lower Path' and the 'Upper Path'. Jim and I decided to get the hard work out of the way so chose the upper option. The guide book mentioned that the car park on the top of the climb sometimes had a snack bar which proved to be the case so a few of us ordered cold cans of pop and gulped them down to lower the body temperature. The height lost in the descent to Bonne Nuit had been regained in spectacular fashion.

The onward route involved more ups and downs but the views made up for the effort.

Jon somehow manages to smile whilst following a disgracefully naked Terry. Sandra's not looking too happy in the background - she'll never get a gold. Never!

The heat was tempered by the return of the breeze on reaching the viewpoint on La Belle Hougue which was a rather pleasant moment. All that was left for the day was the walk around the next headland, over to Petit Port and then on to our destination - Bouley Bay.

Alison runs away from a pervert on the route to Petit Port.

I didn't realise that the route descended to Petit Port but soon realised that because of this that we had to climb again before reaching Bouley Bay. Petit Port was a pleasant little spot with a war memorial and a small stone hut which overlooked the sea. Sandra was struggling at this point so Jim, being the gentleman that he is, decided to support Sandra in her epic climb. Sandra was on for her first gold. This was a big moment.

The route began to climb, as expected, but through a wood which had a slight cooling effect on the team.

Alison, Rich and Ann power on through the wood.

We reached the top of the bank in our usual dribs and drabs. Nearly there.

Looking down to Petit Port after the climb through the woods.

We all thought that the hard work was over but the narrow path through deep bracken required a bit of extra effort for a few hundred yards. Suddenly, the bracken cleared, and there, just below us, was Bouley Bay and a nice surprise....

Netty and Dave line the beers up for the day's walkers. Brilliant! Rich, however, is visibly mad at Netty's decision not to walk. Mark wonders if the 5 pints at his end of the table are all his.

Multi-coloured legs after a hot day's walking.


What a difference 6 seconds can make.

Beer = Happiness.

It had been another excellent day with great views and a good old workout. Netty and Dave's end of walk beers went down a treat so another beer was enjoyed before the coach arrived to take us back to St Helier.

Tomorrow would see the final day's walking. Would Netty and Dave make a return? Would Sandra get her first gold? How many more head attachments has Jim got?

DAY 4 - Bouley Bay to St Helier (14.5 miles)

The final day was the longest of the week's walks but with less ascent. The weather was very warm and overcast but despite this Jim, Alison and Ann decided to stay with the trousers.

Netty and Dave decided that the day would be too much but Sandra recovered from the trauma of the previous day to take on her attempt for gold. The guide book described the first few miles as being a 'rollercoaster' of a path which was a romantic way of saying that there'd be a lot of ascending and descending. The word rollercoaster could easily be replaced by 'fuckbastard' or 'sweatshitter'.

We walked up the road for a short distance before turning left onto the coastal path - which went up.

And we're off up.

The overcast conditions, for me anyway, wasn't making the uphill sections any easier. If it's warm I want it to be sunny - my body doesn't work properly otherwise. Despite the heat the route was enjoyable with views over the cliffs to the greyness of the sea.

A mean looking bunch of pigholers walk away from the viewpoint overlooking La Tour de Rozel. Terry's daily application of sun meant that he was now the same colour as the surface of Mercury.

It wasn't long before we reached the scenic little village of Rozel before heading inland for a while. I made a minor navigational error at this point which resulted in us walking an additional kilometere but it was easy road walking so no harm was done.

The Pig had already eaten enough this week so no need for any more food.

A sharp descent on the road saw us reaching Fliquet where a couple of nice looking houses grabbed our attention. We were also back on the coast but the terrain and scenery was now very different with the cliffs and ruggedness experienced on the previous days replaced by large bays and a rocky unwalkable coast line.

The descent to Fliquet. Sarah's not sure if she's OK or not.

The breakwater at St Catherine's Bay was now in view and we entertained the option of walking to its end and back. We didn't entertain it for too long and decided that the extra distance wasn't worth it. We did however entertain the idea of another ice cream.

The coastal path now turned to the south. Some of us walked on the road whilst others walked on the sea wall.

Alison and Gordon walk on top of the sea wall. A fall off the wall would have hurt somewhat.

A diversion meant that a spot of additional road walking was required to regain the coast where lunch was taken at a picnic spot overlooking the bay. The coast was still too rocky to facilitate a decent walking pace so we decided to stay on paths or roads in order to eat up the miles.

The roads were remarkably quiet due to it being one of the days of the Gorey fete and before too long Orgueil Castle was in view.

Orgueil Castle. Gorey harbour and its fete is immediately behind.

Gorey was very busy as would expected on fete day in summer but the fete resulted in us not taking a stroll along the front so on we went.

Jon turns away in disgust at the alcohol ban. No alcohol at any fete is a fete worse than death.

We walked a few hundred yards away from Gorey and then leapt at the chance of more beach walking. A fine stretch of sand soon turned into pebbles and we were then forced back onto the sea wall due to rocky terrain.

Walking on the beach south of Gorey. Fort Henry can be seen in the distance.

The sun was trying its best to make an appearance as we headed onto the golf course which wasn't the correct route so we rejoined the correct path which followed the sea wall for some distance. Houses now replaced bracken as our guide.

The team negotiate a stretch of sea weed.

On reaching Le Havre de la Rocque we turned to the west and the final march to St Helier but unfortunately, the rocky nature of the coast meant that we had to move inland and walk on either the road or pavements. The sea views were only visible between houses but the firm going meant that we could maintain a decent pace. The sun was now beating down. They grey skies had now turned to blue.

Taking a break on the long march to St Helier. What's Gordon pulling his face at?

After rounding the final point the chimney of St Helier's power station came into view. We still had a couple of miles to go but the rocky coast turned into sand so we headed onto the beach for the final time.

Another walk, another gold.

We walked on the beach for just under a mile before turning into the town and through the tunnel where we headed straight to Liberation Square for our end of walk team photo. Netty and Dave were waiting for us with champagne.

The fabulous fourteen compleaters. Sandra basks in the glow of Terry after gaining her first gold.

The final 5 miles had been the worst part of what had been a fantastic walk and the general feeling was that if we were ever to walk the Jersey coastline again we'd walk in the opposite direction and complete the 'worst' 5 miles first.

All of us completed apart from Netty (blisters) and Dave (planned outage). Terry deserves a special mention for another sterling effort and it's always nice to see the likes of Ann, Gordon and Ken who, in the early winters of their lives, continue to show some of the young'uns up.

An extra two days was spent on the island where the sights of the underground tunnels and the Durrell zoo were enjoyed. As is now usual practice additional beers and food were enjoyed along with a train ride along the bay (a bicycle for Alison) and shopping in St Helier. The return bus trip from the zoo saw us involved in an accident where a van decided to plough into the side of the bus. Luckily, the police were soon on the scene...

Jim's police head fitting saves the day.

To celebrate the end of the walk we ate at Manos where huge skewers packed with various meats were 'eventually' consumed by all. The wine and beer was consumed in vast amounts which resulted in vast amounts of tomfoolery....

The hanging meat of Manos. Superb! Terry goes all Edvard Munch.

Gordon and Ann play on the little cows.

Alison and Netty go for the big boys. Ken protects his ears from Netty's whooping.

Sandra and Alison abuse one of the larger cows to the extent that its ribs stick out.

Sandra had obtained her first gold despite suffering from blisters from day 2 onwards. Jim says he's going to treat her to something but won't tell us any more. Watch this space!

This had been one of the very best of the walks, maybe the best, and another couple of days through the scenery of the first three days would have confirmed it in top spot. It'll be a tough one to beat next year as we'll probably return to the frozen north and the hills and moorlands that we love so much. We've enjoyed ourselves this year - this can't go on.

There were very few injuries to speak of which may have been linked to the shorter overall distance or that the warm weather and dry underfoot conditions had resulted in no falls. Despite this there's still enough to create the now legendary injury table....

Walker Blisters General apathy Drunken Gout 1st degree burns 2nd degree burns
Alison X     X
Dave X    
Netty X        
Terry     X
Sandra X       X
Jim     X    


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