Tuesday, 18 June 2013

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Bouley Bay to Plemont

A few more extracts from the 1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands are given below. This was a kind of "Bradshaw" for the Channel Islands, telling visitors where to go, and what to see.
It should be noted that the date for St John's Church is certainly wrong; all the Parish churches date from at least around the time when William was Duke of Normandy, some 200 years earlier.
I like the idea that the Devil's Hole had a figure which moved when someone pulled a string.
A few details on the book mentioned, "The Battle of the Strong" by Gilbert Parker. First published as a serial in The Atlantic Monthly in 1898, it was also published in book form in late 1898. The book is set in the Channel Islands, primarily during the period 1781-95, and opens with attempted invasion of Jersey by France in the Battle of Jersey. The title is derived from Ecclesiastes 9:11, "the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong."
The hut mentioned in the Guide book comes into the story:
"If you had approached Plemont from Vinchelez-le-Haut, making for the sea, you would have said that it also had no habitation. But when at last you came to a hillock near Plemont point, looking to find nothing but sky and sea and distant islands, suddenly at your very feet you saw a small stone dwelling. Its door faced the west, looking towards the Isles of Guernsey and Sark. Fronting the north was a window like an eye, ever watching the tireless Paternosters. To the east was another tiny window like a deep loop-hole or embrasure set towards the Dirouilles and the Ecrehos."
"The hut had but one room, of moderate size, with a vast chimney. Between the chimney and the western wall was a veille, which was both lounge and bed. The eastern side was given over to a few well-polished kitchen utensils, a churn, and a bread-trough. The floor was of mother earth alone, but a strip of handmade carpet was laid down before the fireplace, and there was another at the opposite end. There were also a table, a spinning-wheel, and a shelf of books."

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Bouley Bay to Plemont
As the cliff path involves arduous climbing, it is wiser to continue by the road along the heights until Bonne Nuit Bay comes in sight. Away on the right is a huge bluff headland, Belle Hogue Point, sheer and bare but for a little grass. From the high ground there is a fine view of Guernsey. Near the point is a Chalybeate Spring, once famous for its miraculous virtues. Its water was said to promote remarkable fluency of speech, and even, if imbibed before sunrise, to make the dumb speak.
A road on the right leads down, past quarries, to Bonne Nuit Bay, or the cliff path leading off from the road on the left, which rounds the brow of the hill, can be taken. The latter affords a pleasant view of the bay and little harbour, and the row of barracks and dismantled fortifications.
To the west of Fremont Point, a good view-point forming the western horn of Bonne Nuit Bay, is "The Wolf's Cave", at the foot of a narrow rocky gorge running some distance inland. It is hard going both down and up. A direction notice declares the Cave to be " la plus Pitoresque et Romantique de Jersey."
The road crosses a deep granite quarry, and the Cave then lies away to the right. Admission to the path is gained by passing through a refreshment pavilion (charge, 3d,). There is then a long and, to ladies, rather formidable descent by steep zig-zag paths almost to the foot of the deep ravine, or " chine." Visitors are here met by the proprietor, who conducts them to an iron ladder leading down to the door of the cave and lights a torch, so that the dimensions and the weirdness of the cave may be appreciated. The best time for a visit is at half-tide or at low water. 'When the tide is up it is only possible to stand on the ladder and watch the waves surging up below. At low tide the sandy bottom of the cave is exposed, and one can pass through to the shore and see the Venus Bath (a very clear rock pool) and other objects. On regaining the top of the path, note the fine view of Guernsey, Sark, and the French coast.
The main road leads now to the village of St. John's, busy with the Mont Mado granite quarries (St. John's Hotel). Granite from here was used for the Thames Embankment. The pretty pink colour always attracts attention, and to the non-scientific eye the pink granite has a much more interesting appearance than the blue variety.
St. John's Church was built in 1204. The recent date on the spire refers merely to the cementing. Little more than half a mile from the hotel is Saline Bay.
Motor-buses run between St. Helier and St. John's, which is a good centre for exploring this part of the island.
Becquet Serrais, a village near the 3-mile point on the St. John's Road running northward from St. Helier (see Map), is locally known as Sion Village, perhaps from its Sion chapel.
By continuing westward along the road and then bearing off on the right we reach a little cove, between the two headlands of Sorel Point (left) and Ronez Point(right). This cove, being off the beaten track, is seldom visited, but should be more noticed. At half-tide a remarkable rock-pool, the Lavoir des Dames, can be found here, the sides are almost rectangular. So regular is the shape that many people declare it to be artificially made. Its dimensions are nearly 25 feet square, with vertical sides 15 feet deep. The water left by each tide forms a bath of remarkable clearness.
Before going to the pool, the permission of the farmer at Sorel should be obtained. From the Ronez quarries a pretty blue diorite stone is extracted.
The cliffs hereabouts are too sheer for safe walking near their edge. We can either walk round by the road, or cross the gorse and bramble-lined paths to the Mourier Waterfall. (The motors come along the lane.) The water falls over the smooth face of the cliff. Amateur photographers sometimes climb down, and for men the short descent is not difficult.
Immediately beyond, 7 miles from St. Helier, is "The Devil's Hole", or Creux de Vis. From the Mourier Waterfall a narrow path, skirting the very edge of the cliff, proceeds to the Devil's Hole, but should only be attempted by the sure-footed. The safest way is to take the path leading inland and turn off on the right down to the Devil's Hole. Rounding a dome-shaped hill, we reach a small refreshment house. Here threepence is paid for the right of descent (much easier than at the Wolf's Cave), and visitors can also see a caged black figure, with horns and tail, flap its wings and nod its head when a rope is pulled from the inside.
The hole, or creux, is a crater-like basin about 200 feet deep and 100 feet across. A wooden staircase gives access to the bottom, and a long dark tunnel leads out to sea. A " creux " is formed by the sea washing away a soft vein of rock or earth at the back of a cave. The earth or soft rock from above continually falls and is washed out by the sea until a creux is left. Another instance of this can be seen at Sark, where is the far-famed Creux Derrible. The descent to the Devil's Hole is perfectly safe, and the view of the tide rushing through the tunnelled entrance and over the great boulders which strew the foot of the creux is very fine. About half an hour is required to descend and return to where the motors wait.
Crabbe is the next cove to visit, and those who wish to see it must re-ascend the path and bear to the right, returning shortly to the coast again. The cliffs are finely formed, and the rocks are wave-worn into pinnacles and minarets. Descend to the beach by the fishermen's path down the narrow cleft in the cliff.
About a mile to the west is the famous Greve de Lecq.
Access: Those who are not following the rather difficult coast walk here described will probably reach the Greve de Lecq by motor or cycle. Cyclists should approach it via St. Mary's, and after passing the church take the first turning on the right, gradually descending a lovely valley, some two miles long, to the sands. Distance from St. Helier, 7 1/2 miles.
Hotel.-Greve de Lecq Pavilion.
In appearance this delightful cove closely resembles the North Devon combes, with steep grassy cliffs on either side and a deep wooded valley running inland. The Greve (greve = sandy beach) has varied attractions. Excellent bathing can be had, and the sand dunes are a favourite resort of picnic parties.
To reach Plemont we can continue by the cliff, passing Douet de la Mer, where there is a waterfall. Or we can go up the lane behind the Pavilion and bear round to the right. This brings us to the beautiful and much-photographed Vinchelez Lane, with its overhanging trees. After passing the old stone gateway in the wall of the grounds of the Manor-House, the backward view is charming.
For Plemont (Plemont Hotel) a lane leads off presently on the right. The motor vehicles run up to the hotel and make a sufficiently long halt.
In the adjacent small bay called Greve-au-Lancon are precipitous cliffs and a series of caves which can be visited without inconvenience at low water. To facilitate access to the caves, paths and bridges have been constructed, and for the use of these a fee of 2d is charged. As the bridges are descended, there are caves on the right, and beneath the bridges, and again a little distance away to the left.
Sometimes natural arches lead from one to the other, but all are interesting. The view seawards from the large cave, with the long pointed Needle Rock outside, is very pleasing. A passage leads from this cave to the pretty Waterfall Cave, in which a stream of water falls from the cliff above and makes a transparent curtain. This is at its best after a heavy shower of rain. From this cave there goes out the telegraphic cable which connects Jersey and Guernsey. A remnant of a former cable may be seen hanging down from the top of the cliff, against the waterfall. The most westerly cave is a little difficult of access even at low tide by reason of a pool, across which ladies are usually carried. There is really nothing remarkable to see when the trip has been made, but it is fairly popular.
While at Plemont many passengers find time for a bathe, and a more tempting spot for the purpose would be hard to discover.
Those who have read "The Battle of the Strong" will look with special interest at the hut on a low site to the right of Plemont Hotel, as it is mentioned in the story. It is not visible from the level of the hotel.
The islands that will attract the attention of the visitor are, from left to right, Guernsey, Herm and Jethou, Sark, 9 miles distant, and Alderney, on the horizon. Then on the extreme right is a long stretch of the French coast, the white sands of Carteret being a conspicuous portion.
A mile or so west of Plemont is Grosnez Castle, at the extreme north-west point of Jersey.

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