Guernsey guide: visiting ‘The Sunshine Island’ from Liverpool
With flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) linking us to Guernsey from May, now is the time to start planning a break to this charming little island nestled in the English Channel.
Words by Lawrence Saunders
Located off the coast of Normandy, Guernsey is the largest island in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, which also includes Alderney, Sark and Herm.
Promoted to 1930s holidaymakers as the ‘The Sunshine Island’, Guernsey boasts plenty of warm weather, pristine beaches, miles of stunning coastline and a fascinating history to boot.
From 21 May until 14 September, Blue Islands will operate twice-weekly flights from LJLA to Guernsey Airport – located just three miles from the British Crown dependency’s picturesque capital, Saint Peter Port.
Where to stay…
Camping doesn’t have to be a basic affair as the Fauxquets Valley Campsite demonstrates, with accommodation options ranging from spacious family tents to luxury log cabins.
On-site facilities at this centrally located retreat are equally impressive with a heated outdoor pool and a well-stocked shop selling all the essentials plus locally-sourced produce and freshly baked breads.
Prices start at £11 per adult/per night if you bring your own tent, with the cheapest cabin coming in at £85 a night based on two people sharing.
If it’s a more extravagant stopover you’re after then you won’t finder any grander than The Old Government House Hotel & Spa (OGH, pictured above) in St. Peter Port.
Originally the official residence of the island’s governor, the OGH is Guernsey’s only five star hotel, and where The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh dined during a royal tour of the Channel Islands in 1957.
Room rates reflect the regal relationship with a one-night stay in mid-July starting at £211.
If that price tag puts you off, maybe a spot of afternoon tea in the hotel’s sunlit Olive Grove complete with a glass of chilled champers will tempt you to pay a visit.
Four things you’ve got to do in Guernsey
1 | Check out a chapel
Thought to be the smallest consecrated church in the world, the Little Chapel is one of Guernsey’s most popular and most curious tourist attractions.
The brainchild of a French monk, this miniscule structure of just 16ft by 9ft lies in the charming Les Vauxbelets valley.
Inspired by the famous grotto and basilica in Lourdes, Brother Déodat Antoine started work on the original chapel in 1914, but after receiving a barrage of criticism upon unveiling the 9ft by 4.5ft building, knocked it down overnight.
His second attempt went down better but when a rather rotund Bishop of Portsmouth was unable to fit through the door to say mass in 1923, a devastated Déodat destroyed it again.
Soon after his latest demolition job, Déodat set about constructing a third chapel and, by the outbreak of the Second World War, had almost finished.
Sadly, ill health forced him to return to France and he would never see his passion project become a reality.
The chapel was eventually completed and, adorned with seashells, pebbles and multi-coloured pieces of broken china, it still stands today.
A great time to visit is 15 August when a torch-lit procession takes place throughout the surrounding grounds to celebrate The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
2 | Visit the home of a literary legend
Call in at the palatial former home of legendary French novelist Victor Hugo and discover how he lived during his exile on Guernsey between 1855 and 1870.
It was at Hauteville House in St. Peter Port where he penned possibly his most well- known work, ‘Les Misérables’.
Personally decorated and furnished by Victor himself, the property’s full splendour can be experienced by taking a guided tour from the tapestry-laden ground floor to the ornate Crystal Room overlooking the sea.
This April the home is set to re-open following extensive renovations paid for by billionaire businessman and art collector François Pinault, who described the residence as “a work of art”.
3 | Take a walk
With the first flight from Liverpool to Guernsey taking off on 21 May, it’s perfect timing to catch the annual Spring Walking Festival.
Taking place from 25 May – 9 June, the event enables you to make the most of the longer days with an assortment of organised ambles across the island.
Wander the lanes of Saint Martin’s parish and discover how dairy farming, smuggling and more shaped the parish, or take a stroll around Saumarez Park and discover its intriguing links with oriental culture.
The festival also represents an ideal opportunity to uncover the fascinating story of Guernsey’s wartime history.
For most of the Second World War, German troops were stationed on the island and today there remains ample anecdotal and physical reminders (an example of which is pictured above) of the near five-year occupation.
The Spring Walk Festival covers the period in detail with walks accompanied by expert guides taking tourists deep into an underground bunker and recalling a captivating account of two Guernsey soldiers bravely evading capture from the Nazis.
4 | Find out why there’s no place like Herm
Despite its diminutive dimensions, the tiny island of Herm off Guernsey’s east coast offers tourists a plethora of reasons to visit.
From award-winning gardens laden with vibrant flora to white sandy beaches boasting crystal clear waters, there’s no excuse not to make the short ferry crossing from St. Peter Port.
And much like its larger neighbour, Herm possesses quite a backstory to explore having at different points throughout history served as a home to monks, pirates and Prussian princesses.
Before jumping the boat back to Guernsey, call in at The White House Hotel and its Conservatory Restaurant for some first class dining paired with a bottle from the extensive wine cellar.