Monday, 16 September 2013

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Plemont to Corbière

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.
I remember when you could still get refreshments at L'Etacq at the Marina Restaurant, where we used to go as a treat on the odd Sunday, and I had egg and chips, being a creature of habit; this would be followed by an enormous knickerbocker glory for desert. There are just residential houses now, and the restaurant has gone, although I believe it does feature in one episode of Bergerac.

The Guide is rather rude about the coast at St Ouen - "desolate and weird"  indeed, and makes it sound like Death Valley. I think the lunar style landscope of La Rocque at low tide would be a more appropriate location for those adjectives.

The lighthouse, of course was manned. It is now automated. A fog horn sounds, but there is no longer the "firing of explosives" to warn mariners which seems rather unusual. The note about the rising tide was not heeded. There is today a plaque adjacent to the causeway which commemorates Peter Edwin Larbalestier, assistant keeper of the lighthouse, who was drowned on 28 May 1946, while trying to rescue a visitor cut off by the incoming tide.

1932 Guide Book to the Channel Islands: Plemont to Corbière
After ascending the gorge and reaching the high ground, we can walk across the common-like expanse (or take the road) to Grosnez Point, on which are the ruins of Grosnez Castle, 200 feet above sea-level. The only considerable portion still standing is the entrance gateway, but the design of the walls and buildings can be traced. Enclosed within wooden railings are pieces of old stone, carved at the ends.
There is no record of the date of this Castle, but the architecture is of the fourteenth century. From the Point the view of the coast, with black sheer cliffs on either side, is imposing, and here one gets the best views of the Paternosters, Sark, Herm, and Guernsey.
Eastward of the ruins a pathway leads to the head of a precipitous gorge, at the bottom of which the sea even in the calmest weather makes grand play as it frets itself into a white foam round the base of the cliff, and if the tide is low a curious natural bridge, the Pont de la Moie, will be seen by descending into the quarry to the right of the Castle.
We now turn southward, and in about a mile over the turf reach the Pinnacle Rock, a mass of granite rising vertically from the sea to a height of 200 feet, and connected with the mainland by a narrow ledge of rock. Shortly after, we rejoin the road leading to L'Etacq (refreshment room), a huge circular mass of grey rock rising from the beach. The adventurous can easily make the ascent.
To the south lies St. Ouen's Bay, the largest inlet in the Channel Islands. The village of Etacq snuggles at the base of the rock. Some visitors do not care for this side of the Island and call it desolate and weird. It is certainly the barest side.
The hills rise a little distance inland, and an expanse of grass-covered sand lies between them and the sea. A road skirts the beach, passing several towers and scattered cottages. The solid architecture of the latter exemplifies the necessities of the district. Only those who have experienced the full force of a south-westerly gale in St. Ouen's Bay in the depths of winter can understand what contrasting aspects this almost sub-tropical island possesses.
Midway along the curve of the bay is St. Ouen's Pond, a marshy pool formed by several small streams. Farther south, and about half a mile from the shore, stands La Rocco Tower, erected in 1800, near which is the only safe anchorage in the bay.
It was in St. Ouen's Bay that the Parliamentary forces, conveyed by Admiral Blake's fleet, successfully landed and overcame the royalist faction in 1651.
At the southern extremity of St. Ouen's Bay is Corbiere Point, which has near it - The Corbiere Lighthouse.
Access.-From St. Helier by railway via St. Aubin. Return fare, 2s.6d. first, 1s. 9d, second. Sundays and Thursday afternoons,1s 6d
A single glance at the sea at any state of the tide is sufficient to convince one of the necessity of a powerful light at this point of the coast. Corbière Lighthouse was built in 1874 on a rock which rises 90 feet above high water. The light, 135 feet above sea-level, is visible seventeen miles, showing white in some directions, red in others. In foggy weather an alarm bell, giving three strokes every 30 seconds, and the automatic firing of explosives, warn mariners of their danger.
At half-ebb tide a paved causeway between the Point and the lighthouse is exposed. At the farther end ninety-five steps lead up the rock. The public are not admitted to the lighthouse itself, but are allowed to pass round the lower gallery outside, which is an excellent point from which to view the wild and rugged scenery around.
Should the tide be rising, it is most important not to delay one's return to the mainland too long, as the causeway is covered with rising speed.
At Corbiere will be found the Corbière Pavilion hotel, Le t Chalet, and other refreshment places. The distance by road to St. Helier is seven miles. The railway terminus is quite near the Point. On the seaward side of the Corbière Tea Room a path leads down to the pretty cove of La Rosiere, in which are the Pirates' Caves and the Smugglers' Cave, the approach to which is rendered easy by a concrete path over rocks.

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