Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Island of Sark, United Kingdom

We begin the second day of our journey aboard the Ocean Princess cruise-ship.  After sailing 227 miles from Dover, England during the night, we arrived at the Channel Islands in the English Channel.  Our boat docked early in the AM off St. Peter's Port,  the second largest Channel Island of Guernsey.

St. Peter's Port is not a large enough port for the ship to pull into the dock.  They have it all figured out, and from the boat they very easily transport passengers by "tender boats" which are of course much smaller and able to dock at the Port.
Below is a photo of the Ocean Princess Cruise-ship anchored at sea, close to St. Peter's Port.


As you can see in the below map we have traveled from Dover, England through the English Channel on over to the Channel Islands seen in the lower portion of the map to the left.  

I hate to say this, but I did not know my geography enough to know about the Channel Islands.  I can't believe how beautiful these islands are and I did not even know they existed.


St. Peter's Port, Guernsey, England


The British Island of Guernsey is just eight miles off the coast of France.  It is the second largest of the Channel Islands.  It has a peaceful and unspoiled atmosphere and it is a popular destination for British and French vacationers.  They say it is one of the prettiest harbors in Europe.


From Guernsey we boarded a transport ferry which would be taking us on to the Island of Sark, which was a six-mile trip,  taking about 45 minutes.  Below is the ferry boat coming into the Island of Sark dock.

The day started out very rainy.  Thank goodness for big umbrellas.


Even in the rain it was very picturesque approaching the Maseline Harbor.  
Notice the light-house at the top of the hill.


It appears to be a very rocky island.






Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands, located about 80 miles south of the English coast.  The island is only 3 miles long and a mile-and-a-half wide and has a beautiful scenic coastline.

Amazingly the Island of Sark does not have any cars or any night time street lights. The only vehicles allowed are horse-drawn vehicles, bicycles, tractors, battery-powered buggies or motorized bicycles for the elderly or disabled residents.


As we walked through this tunnel there was a tractor bus waiting to take everyone into the village of La Maseline.   

When we arrived in the village we were split into three groups.  Each group boarded a horse-drawn carriage for a drive around some of the island.  

We were bumping along in the cart and it was not possible to get a clear photo as you can see in the photo I  took of the horse-drawn cart behind us,  in the below photo.




We hopped down from the cart when we arrived back at the village.  It was quite chilly and rainy out. You can see the blankets our nice driver supplied for all of us to use.  

How about that beautiful horse.  I always wonder how animals feel and what they think.  There were about 12 of us loaded into that cart.  I bet he was glad when we arrived.  I wanted to talk to him, but he looked like he was being serious at the moment and just wanted to rest!


By now we were looking forward to finding a charming little place to get a bite to eat.  We did find a very nice and very busy lunch restaurant.  Both my husband and I ordered some very delicious warm soup and some nice hot coffee.....What a treat!


Sark is a thriving community, with a resident population of around 600.  There are several shops, a post office, a small little prison,  a parish church, a school, a Doctor,  and,  of all things, a volunteer policeman.  The local fire-engine and ambulance are pulled along by a tractor.


Sark is politically independent from the UK.  Residents elect representatives on their behalf making it the smallest self-governing parliament in Europe. Today Sark's economy depends primarily on tourism.


Bicycles are one of the main modes of transportation on the Island of Sark.








The bank of Sark.





In the below photo is La Seigneurie, the home of Sark's hereditary lord since the 18th century.  La Seigneurie was built on the site of the 6th-century monastery of  St. Magloire.  The present house has been altered and extended over the years with a large Victorian watchtower built to facilitate signaling between the island of Sark and Guernsey.  Apparently La Seigneurie is not open to the public but the beautiful gardens next to this beautiful structure were open.











Even though it was cloudy the rain stopped and we were able to walk around and really enjoy seeing this walled garden.  It is said the wall was built originally to give protection to the plants from the wind.




The gardens as a whole employ one full-time and three part-time gardeners.  Due to limited time we did not go out beyond the flower garden to see the vegetable gardens.




Cute little things.









This old Victorian glasshouse shelters some of the plants used in the gardens.





This white flowering plant was about seven feet tall and has the look of a Rose of Sharon, but the flowers are more cupped.  So pretty!






One of the gardeners can be seen in the below photo working away in the garden.


A pretty Clematis Vine.




I am unable to name most of the plants growing here in the garden but we sure enjoyed seeing them.


How special it was to see this charming village of La Maseline.  We decided to walk back down toward the harbor to meet our ferry boat that would be arriving before too long.

We were told that during the Springtime these hills in the below photo are covered in bluebells, thrift and daisies.  Can you just imagine how beautiful that must be!


There was a walking trail going down toward the sea.  As much as I would have loved to see the view on down toward the ocean I had to turn back because the wind was blowing and it was really chilly.


We arrived back down at the Maseline Harbor before our ferry arrived ... better to be early than late!  As beautiful as it is on this little island we sure would not want to miss the boat back to St. Peter's Port.  In the below photo you can see the ferry boat approaching on the right.


We arrived back to St. Peter's Port on the Island of Guernsey, an island only 24 miles wide.  We told ourselves we could not see everything on this trip, but it sure would have been interesting to explore the Island of Guernsey also.

You have probably heard of Guernsey cows, and this is where they originally came from.  The milk from the Guernsey cows is golden and regarded as the world's healthiest and most delicious.  The milk has an unusual amount of healthy beta-carotene. 


Another claim to fame for the island of Guernsey is that the very famous literary giant Victor Hugo lived here for 15 years.   This is where he wrote his best-known novels,  Les Miserables in 1862 and earlier in 1831 he had written the very well known novel,  The Hunchback of Notre-Dame

The last "Tender" boat from Guernsey back to the Ocean Princess was scheduled for 4:30 PM.  Then the ship would continue on, sailing through the night, on it's way this time to Dartmouth, England.

Thanks for coming along with us as we went sight-seeing around those beautiful islands tucked away in the middle of the English Channel ... What a surprise to even find out they were there!   It really would take a lifetime to try to see all of the amazing beauty the Good Lord has given us on this beautiful earth. 

Wishing you many blessings wherever you may be.

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