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  • People walking up steps in Guernsey
  • Guided walk in St Peter Port
  • Guernsey couple walking by flowers

Walking in Guernsey

2018 Spring Walking Festival

12 – 28 May

2018 Autumn Walking Festival

15th – 30th September

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on where to go walking in Guernsey, the second largest Channel Island. Offering 24 square miles of planned routes and coastal footpaths winding through wildflower filled country lanes and dramatic cliff top footpaths, the mix of spectacular views and beautiful landscape is really worth capturing during a walk. The terrain can be varied, with steep and challenging walks in the south and more gentle walks towards the west coast but Guernsey’s ‘ruettes tranquilles’, where cars are limited to 35mph, actively encourage exploration on foot. On your travels remember to look out for roadside stalls bursting with homegrown flowers, fruit and vegetables with little ‘honesty boxes’ for payment, an island tradition.

Guernsey Walking Weeks

Look out for details on the Spring and Autumn walking weeks which take place each year. Usually in May and September, the walks follow a variety of routes around the island as well as in town.

Guided walks

Guernsey has a rich historic past and tales of smugglers, fairies, elves and witchcraft can really be bought to life with some of the islands walking tour guides. The guides will be able to enlighten you on the paintings Renoir began around the Moulin Huet Bay during the summer of 1883 and on the secrets of Victor Hugo’s fifteen year exile on the island.

Tasty Walks

There are a number of excellent self-guided walks, particularly the ‘Tasty Walks’ series, offering downloadable and printable guides combining the best of the islands walks with some of its top eateries. Intriguing titles such as ‘Forts, shipwrecks and ancient settlements’ and ‘Secret coves, rugged cliffs and Renoirs bay’ offer an insight into what you might expect. The walks also cover Alderney, Herm and Sark and are a great way to discover the islands on a day trip.

walkers in a country lane
walking up steps
couple walking

Walks from St Peter Port

The pretty harbour and capital of St Peter Port nestles on the eastern side of the island and makes for a good starting point. Once you’ve climbed up from its steep cobbled streets, the more adventurous hiker might like to don a pair of sturdy walking boots and make for the rocky southern coastline. Others may fancy heading through the rural lanes in the centre of the island for a swim at popular Cobo Bay. For a gentle afternoon stroll, Les Cotils Gardens with its views over the harbour to Herm, is a paradise of flowers by springtime.

Coastal walks

For a gentle challenge, head to the south east as the walk from La Vallette bathing pools in St Peter Port to Fermain Bay is demanding enough to be able to reward yourself with an ice cream from the cafe at the end! The beach can only be reached on foot and the pathways wind through bluebell filled woods and down zig zag steps.

For the serious hiker, the whole of the southern cliff path is an exhilarating walk, with waves crashing below the steep cliff top footpath. The route is often undulating with numerous steps down to some of the bays and inlets. However there are also plenty of cliff top tea rooms and rest stops on the way. The cliffs were made famous by Renoir and Victor Hugo who were inspired by the views and dramatic scenery.

When approaching the south west coast, many of Guernsey’s fortifications come into view and Pleinmont Nature Reserve, often battered by wild sea winds, is one of the most diverse habitats on the island. Also around Pleinmont is a pedestrian road to the ‘Fairy Ring’ at Fort Pezeries where Guernsey folklaw declares that if you walk around the ring 3 times, your wishes will come true! In reality the area was a popular picnic spot dating back to the 1700’s and the ring, or La Table des Pions, was actually a huge table for the islands officials. The south west also offers plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife and the Ramsar site at L’Eree headland leads to the start of the causeway over to Lihou Island with views out to Hanois Lighthouse. Only accessible for about two weeks of every month, it is necessary to check tide times before attempting to cross as the waters have strong undercurrents. If you enjoy barefoot sand walking then the west coast bays at Vazon and Cobo are ideal and are popular for bathing and watersports. Cobo tearooms reputedly sell excellent fresh crab sandwiches!

Towards the north the terrain is generally flatter with inland nature reserves and common land. On L’Ancresse Common you’ll find neolithic burial mounds and evidence of early man made structures whilst further on towards Pembroke Bay, eighteenth century fortifications and World War II defences come into view. Returning back around the north east, Guernsey’s second biggest harbour at St Sampson is overlooked by the historic Vale Castle and will reward you with views out towards Herm and Jethou.

Nature Reserves

La Claire Mare on the west coast is one of the best reserves for wild birds and hosts some globally threatened species such as Aquatic Warblers. The adjoining Colin Best Nature Reserve is one of the largest salt freshwater habitats on the island and although not generally open to the public, can be seen from the surrounding roads. Silbe Nature Reserve in the Quanteraine Valley can be visited though. Quietly hidden, it’s one of the islands best kept secrets with a stream and mill pond running through the diverse habitats of woodlands and wetlands. In season these are filled with bluebells and celandines as well as 3 species of wild orchid. In bloom from May to June, Orchids can best be viewed at the Bridget Ozanne Orchid Fields in the south west where pathways have been cut to allow photographers to capture the rare flowers. An easy and popular circular walk can be found in the same area. The ‘Millenium Walk’ at St Saviour’s Reservoir, offers tranquil woodlands and a nature trail.

Belvoir Beach, Herm
family on coastal footpath
Footsteps in sand

Hop over to Guernsey’s sister Bailiwick Islands for more walks

Sark, Herm and Alderney are all very accessible from Guernsey and make for a good day trip. These petite little islands are peaceful havens with only Alderney having cars (and even then they’re limited to 35mph!). Each of the islands have their own unique characteristics but all have breathtaking views and a splendid mix of rural roads, coastal footpaths and glorious beaches. Alderney is rich in wildlife and has a strong presence of fortifications with Sark allowing for some adventurous cliff top walks. Whereas tiny Herm is home to possibly the most stunning white sandy beaches and turquoise waters in the whole of the Channel Islands. Well worth packing a picnic for!

Worth a walk:

  • Bluebell Woods
  • Fauxquets Valley
  • Rue des Bergers
  • Jerbourg Silbe Reserve
  • L’Ancresse Common
  • La Claire Mare
  • Lihou Island Orchid
  • Port Soif Nature Trail
  • Fields Cliff Paths
  • Vale Pond & CJ McCathie Nature Reserve
  • Saumarez Nature Trail
  • Rousee Headland
  • St Saviour’s Resevoir
  • L’Eree Headland
  • Le Grande Pré
  • Le Gouffre
  • Talbot Valley

Guernsey walking resources

  • The Occupation, smuggling tales, secret coves, historic gardens, witch trials, painters, writers and ‘Tasty Walks’ all feature in some of the excellent walking guides produced by Visit Guernsey. Its Information Centre is situated on the sea front at St Peter Port Tel: +44 (0)1481 723552
  • Bestwalks.com are a good resource for walking books, maps, and Free Walks.
  • ‘Guernsey Walker’ is an online resource for downloading printable walk guides.
  • Outdoor Guernsey offer bespoke walking tours for individuals or groups.
  • Guided tours from Bailiwick of Guernsey Accredited Guides are offered throughout the main season from outside the Tourist Office. Costing £6 per person they usually take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am, as well as Thursdays at 2pm after April. Tel: +44 (0)1481 723552.