In March and April, Guernsey is offering a programme of 34 guided walks showcasing the island's best sites and scenery, followed by a three course meal. Other restaurants will be also creating special seasonal menus to showcase Guernsey's excellent local produce.
Spring comes early in the Channel Islands, since they're the most southerly part of the British Isles. It's the ideal time to explore Guernsey's network of excellent walks with over 24 miles of cliff trails. The scenery is constantly changing, whether it's the granite cliffs of the south and east or the sandy bays of the north. Inland there are many quiet and picturesque country lanes, designated as "Ruettes Tranquilles, which have a top speed of 15 mph and give priority to walkers, cyclists and horses. The aim of Tasty Walks is to get a sense of the Guernsey countryside, and tuck in to a meal made from their local seasonal ingredients.
It's almost 50 years since I was in Guernsey with my parents - fondly remembered family holidays before the age of charter flights and foreign travel. Then it seemed vaguely exotic, partly because people still spoke the local patois and the food was more French than English. The great thing is that island doesn't seem to have changed apart from St Peter Port, the capital. Everything is neat and tidy, no gaudy advertising hoardings, and even the driving manners seem to from a bygone age.
I'm ready for my first Tasty Walk and guess I might need to be protected against the weather. On the local news I see that, overnight, the island has been lashed by fierce storms which have breached the sea wall in a number of places. In fact, I worry I might be late for my "West Coast Wander" as the coast road has been closed and I'm diverted through tiny hamlets and I lose all sense of direction.
I pull into Portelet just in time and spot the ramblers gathering. I pull on my boots and wander over and meet my guide, Annette Henry. We're in the far South West corner of the island, right next to the sea, and there's a small beach and tiny harbour. As Annette leads us upwards, she regales us with tales of shipwrecks on this rugged coastline. We're aiming for the 2nd world war German observation post, L'Angle Tower, slightly sinister in its command of the headland.
From the top, the 19th Century lighthouse, warning sailors of the treacherous Les Hanois rocks, dominates and there are stunning views across Rocquaine Bay. We descend, surrounded by a glorious array of birdlife, passing the stone circle known as the Fairy Ring, and arrive at the Napoleonic Fort Pezeries, built to prevent French invasion. We've been walking for around 2 hours and we all repair to the Imperial Hotel, to enjoy the tasty part. Since we're right by the sea I go for the fish option and start with poached salmon flakes, followed by fillets of sea bass. I'm not disappointed and for £20.50 I've had a mornings work and an excellent lunch. You can't really complain.
Next day I'm in St Peter Port for another walk. The theme this time is "Uninvited Guests - the Reich, the Writer and the Royals". The Reich is, of course, the Germans, since Guernsey was the only British territory to come under Nazi rule. The writer is the French author Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables here in Hauteville House, just above the town. The Royals are Queen Victoria who visited unexpectedly in 1946 with her darling Albert - she was the first reigning monarch to set foot on the island.
We start on the waterfront by the Liberation Monument commemorating the German surrender in May, 1945. Gill Girad, our guide, gives us a brief history of the occupation and then we're climbing the cobbled streets, past solid Georgian and Regency houses which were once the homes of wealthy shipping merchants. She points out the 13th century Castle Cornet sitting at the entrance to the harbour and, after a stop at the Guernsey Museum, we're at the Victoria Tower, at the top of the town. It was built after the Queen's visit, with money raised by popular subscription, and you can climb the 99 steps to get a panoramic view of the town.
Of course there's another lunch involved, this time at the Village East restaurant on the waterfront and it doesn't disappoint. As an appetiser for what Guernsey has to offer the tasty walks concept is a brilliant idea. There are three on offer in March and April - the West Coast Wander and a couple in St Peter Port. Places are limited to 30 on each walk and duration is approximately two hours. To book a place go to the Tasty Walks website.
Menus for all the walks can be found here.
Premier Holidays is offering a 3 nights for 2 Tasty Walks package with the "Uninvited Guests" walk for £263 per person. The price includes three nights at the four star Fermain Valley Hotel in St. Peter Port with breakfast, return flights from London Gatwick and car hire (excluding fuel and insurance).
Guernsey is connected directly with nine UK airports and two UK ports: London Gatwick: Aurigny and Flybe. London Stansted, Manchester, East Midlands and Bristol: Aurigny. Birmingham, Exeter and Southampton: Flybe. Southampton: Blue Islands. Ferry: Condor Ferries from Poole and Portsmouth.
Accommodation at the St Pierre Park Hotel, in St. Peter Port, starts at around £134 per room per night including breakfast, based on two people sharing.
Visit Guernsey has tourist information.
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