Friday, 21 July 2017

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

My history for the next few weeks will come from “The Channel Islands” by Joseph E Morris, B.A., published by London, Adam and Charles Black, 1911. It is fascinating because, firstly, it is a guidebook from 1911, depicting a Jersey before the Great War erupted across Europe, and secondly because it is very much an outsider looking in, and making very personal observations mingled with the history.

Beautiful Britain - Jersey - Part 5

Other Antiquities

The walk across the south coast of Jersey, from Mont Orgueil to the Corbiere, taking the train for the four dull miles, where there is nothing to see, between St. Helier and St. Aubin, will probably almost exhaust, except for the archeologist of the Dry-as-Dust school, the artificial attractions of the island of Jersey.

Of course, there are other antiquities to see : St. Ouen's Manor, for example, now recently restored, and the ancient house of the Carterets ; the cromlechs at Gorey and the Couperon ; and the seven old churches that we have not yet visited.

But when we have seen the wall-paintings at St. Brelade's and St. Clement's ; have inspected Elizabeth Castle, and the curious font at Prince's Tower ; and, above all, have made every stick and stone of Mont Orgueil our own treasured possession, it will be time for most of us to turn our attention, less to the artificial attractions of Jersey, than to its wonderful natural beauties.

The North Coast of Jersey

It is lucky that these lie mostly on the north coast, which is well out of reach of St. Helier. It would be sad indeed if this silent succession of bays, stretching in stern sublimity from Grosnez Point to the long useless breakwater on the south of Fliquet Bay, were infested with tea-gardens, and boarding-houses, and villas.

For this twelve miles of coast is both wholly unspoilt, and one of the loveliest imaginable. Brakes, no doubt, in the season, with their hordes of jolly trippers, invade for a few hours the sacred silences of Greve de Lecq and Rozel Bay. These, however, are limited to definite times and places; nor will it be hard for the quiet lover of Nature to evade their unwelcome gaieties.

Every inch of this glorious stretch of coast should be walked over, if possible ; should often be revisited ; and should be lingered over lovingly. Where else have these rose-red cliffs a counterpart, jutting out into the bluest, or most emerald, of seas, and haunted by myriads of clanging sea-fowl, unless it be on the borders of lost Lyonesse ? Waters that rest on a granite bed are always of amazing translucency -

Pleased to watch the waters sleep,
Round Iona green and deep

and those that never rest round the igneous cliffs of Jersey are no exception to this beautiful rule.

Here and there, of course, the explorer will come across some special point of interest, though the coast, to be enjoyed at its best, must always be enjoyed as a whole. At Greve de Lecq is a cave to visit which thoroughly entails some very rough scrambling, and some rather giddy climbing up an almost vertical cliff.

Less than two miles to the east, as the crow flies-it adds to the distance enormously to follow all the sinuosities of this deeply indented coast-is the Creux-du-Vis, or Devil's Hole - one of those strange, roofless caverns, connecting with the sea by a tunnel through which the tide ebbs and flows, but set back some little distance from the margin of the cliff, that are found again in Sark, in the Creux Derrible and Pot.

In many respects they resemble the famous " pot-holes " that occur in the mountain limestone of the Craven district in North-West Yorkshire, though their origin, it is clear, is wholly different.

Creux, of course, is connected with the French creuser, to dig ; and " derrible," which has nothing whatever to do with " terrible," is an old Norman word, unknown to modern French, that really expresses the same idea

“Cavite d'un rocher formee par un eboulement de terre, attenant a un precipice."

Creux is used again of artificial cromlechs. East of the Creux-du-Vis is the Mouriers Waterfall, where a little stream leaps down the rocks into the sea. The path along the cliff is rather giddy, and those who take it must remember that a slip may be followed by fatal consequences, like the accident that happened to Mrs. Guille, in 1871, at the Gouffre, in Guernsey.

The steep grass slopes in spring are plentifully sprinkled with the dainty yellow blossoms of the little wild narcissus.

Beyond Sorel Point comes suddenly the deep hollow of La Houle, guarded by granite cliffs of sheer sublimity; and beyond this, in long succession, round innumerable intervening points, come Mourier, and Bonne Nuit, and Giffard, and Bouley, and Rozel, and Fliquet Bays.

A week may well be spent, and more than a week, in leisurely exploration of this gloriously broken coast. Or the visitor who has less energy, or is weary of much scrambling, may sit here day after day in the sunshine, on promontory or cliff, watching the blind wave " at its never-ending business of feeling round its ocean hall."

There are less pleasant ways than this of spending a summer holiday for those whose brains are fagged by weeks of dull work in London. And always across the water, far-seen on the dim horizon, are the faint grey lines of the Cotentin, and the cliffs of fairy-like Sark.

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