Friday, 17 October 2014

A Walk Around La Pulente

One afternoon during the Easter holidays this year, Katalin and I decided to walk around La Pulente headland. It is at the extreme south of St Ouen's Bay, a jutting out rocky coast, with a path that leads around to Petit Port Bay. It's a lovely walk, with lots of wild flowers, and the bramble bushes are thick with blackberries in the Autumn.

There's a good view of La Rocco Tower from La Pulente. This was a Jersey Round Tower, built rather in the style of a rook in a chess set, and unusually not on the coast, but in the middle of St Ouen's Bay, with a circular protective wall. They were built under the Governorship of General Gordon Conway as part of a strategy to defend Jersey's coastline against attack by the French after the French revolution. It was completed in 1796 and named Gordon's Tower but the name never really took. Instead its popular name came from the large rock on which it is built.

As ever on the path, there are benches to sit, and often they are dedicated to the memory of individuals. This one contains the maxim "rest your body and refresh your spirit". In a world so full of haste, that is surely important to remember.

This is not my photo, but Katalin and I have seen the odd glimpse of a green lizard at La Pulente. It is one of the places in Jersey where they can be found. The Jersey States website has this to say about them:

"Jersey is the only area in Britain where green lizards occur naturally. The species is amongst the largest in Europe with adult males reaching lengths of between 30 to 40cm (16 inches). Adult males are distinguished from the females by a larger head and a blue throat. The throat of a female green lizard is yellowish green. The breeding season takes place in April and May. Between 5 and 20 eggs are produced in June and July. The clutch is then hidden beneath vegetation or soil and warmed by the sun. The young emerge in September."

The coast goes round to Petit Port, a pleasant bay, with lots of rock pools at low tide. There used to be a well known restaurant called "The Sea Crest" owned by Julian Bernstein here, and I remember going once, and being struck by the waiter's very apposite name of Sergio Parmesan. The Sea Crest served good food, and I went there a few times.

It was also the place where the Nicholas and Elizabeth Newall were dining with their sons on the night that they were murdered. They vanished without trace, and it was not until much later that Roderick Newall confessed to their murder, and burying the bodies at Greve de L'Ecq with his brother's help.

Later the property was developed into flats, which is the white building that you can see by the nearest coast.

There is a path which takes you across the top of the headland, and there is La Sergente, probably one of the oldest Neolithic sites in Jersey. Katalin is pictured standing in the circular part, which would have been topped by a "beehive" structure of small stones.

We always like to visit this sacred site, whenever Katalin is in Jersey. Like many neolithic sites, it is built high up, so there are also good views of Corbiere lighthouse.

The original excavation in 1923 found a large amount of rubble within that was probably the fallen remains of a corbelled, bee-hive shaped vault. The style is unique to the Channel Islands.

It is sited on open land west of Le Parcq de L'Oeillière, with a line of sight to La Table des Marthes.

Mark Patton noted that the corbelled vault required a rock such as schist, which fractures to give long, flat slabs, and in Jersey, the available rock was not suitable. Consequently, while La Sergenté is the earliest passage grave in Jersey, it collapsed soon after its construction, because of the unsuitable building materials available, and was not repeated elsewhere in the Islands."(Patton 1987a).

There are some rather nice steps back down to the coast, and back to where I had parked the car. The best way to visit La Pulente is to go round, then up, visit the dolmen, and down the other side. Then you descend to some wonderful views of St Ouen's Bay.

I have, I notice, forgotten to mention the rather impressive German bunker on the headland, and it can be seen in the background of this very nice photograph of Katalin holding a small wild flower.

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