After leaving St Malo (with the heaviest of hearts!), we arrived in Guernsey via the Condor Ferry and wasted no time in going out to explore. Having visited the Channel Islands last year with our stay in Jersey, we were hopeful; that we would fall in love with Guernsey in just the same way. And, after a Guernsey Ice Cream pit stop, we were ready to explore!
It soon became very clear that whilst Guernsey has many similarities to Jersey, the two islands are actually quite different. Guernsey instantly just felt a lot more rural and way quieter too. Despite visiting in the peak of the Summer, as we set off on our walk there was barely anyone else around.
Like Jersey, Guernsey is rich in history and at various points along the coastline you can find 15 Guernsey loophole towers, built between 1778 and 1779 to deter French attacks after France declared itself an ally of the American rebels in the American Revolutionary War. Towards the start of the Napoleonic Wars several towers received additional reinforcement in the form of batteries at their bases. Today, 12 towers still survive, three having been destroyed at different times. Two of the survivors, Petit Bôt and Rousse, contain interpretive exhibits that the public can examine.
Our children love just about any kind of castle or tower they can climb up/go into/look around and Gaz and I love to learn more about the historical side of places we visit, so Rousse Tower was a great starting point and just being outdoors and enjoying the views was lovely.
Of course, the minute the kids discovered the cannons there was no getting them off! I love places like this where we can all learn a little something about the places we visit without it having to cost a single penny. Even Lewis at 15 was happy enough just enjoying the walk and taking it all in. The views were beautiful!
Guernsey has some of the most beautiful beaches and we were keen to enjoy as many of them as possible. Here at Rousse Tower the beach was completely empty and yet the perfect place to explore.
With thousands of pebbles, perfect for skimming, Harry, Lewis and Gaz literally spent the entire time skimming them out to sea, competing over who could throw them the furthest or later, inspired by Harry, make the biggest splash!
These simple pleasures will always be my favourite way to spend a day and take me back to my own childhood when skimming pebbles with my Dad was my favourite thing to do, although I have never been very good at it!
The girls were in their absolute element to discover that the entire beach was covered in shells, more shells than we have ever seen before and of course, they wanted to collect all of them!
When I was younger my Mum and I used to collect shells on the beach and, on our return home, glue them onto little boxes to create shell jewellery boxes for all of my treasures. And so I promised the girls that we would do just the same and they took choosing their shells very seriously! With us completely unprepared for so many shells we had to resort to an empty bag of sweets to collect them in, as well as my handbag which was bursting at the seams.
Sitting there on the beach watching them scoop up those shells and skim pebbles in the sea, I felt a real sense of calm and I think that describes how I feel about Guernsey full stop. It’s very peaceful and quiet, nobody is in a rush or busy trying to juggle a million things at once, and for me, as someone who is always doing just that, it was lovely to just take a minute and remember to simply breathe.
After a quick pit stop to the hotel we decided to walk down to St Peter Port, the capital and main port on Guernsey. St Peter Port is a small town but bursting with restaurants and bars, shops and cafes, a castle, historical monuments, and the port itself,
As with everywhere we saw during our stay in Guernsey, St Peter Port is very pretty and well kept, the gardens in particularly. Guernsey is still very English in many ways, unlike Jersey which had a real French feel, but at the same time it still feels as though you are abroad which is a lovely feeling when you’re on your Summer holiday.
Looking for somewhere to eat we discovered Slaughterhouse Bar & Eatery which, after a quick search on TripAdvisor looked to be one of the best bars and restaurants in St Peter Port. Luckily for us there was availability for the six of us and we headed in, starving hungry!
Inside was pretty impressive, with a huge bar and restaurant area downstairs and then an upper level balcony with more seating. Although the Slaughterhouse was clearly a popular bar (it was really busy outside in the courtyard) with us dining early in the evening it still felt family friendly and the staff were more than happy to accommodate us.
I was also happy to see they had a children’s menu which had all of their favourite dishes on, as well as colouring and crayons which is always a huge relief when we eat out with the younger three!
When the kids meals came I couldn’t quite believe the size of them, with Harry’s burger and chips being a portion I would expect for myself! For younger children ordering at Slaughterhouse I would suggest sharing one meal between two as there was just way too much for a five year old, even a very hungry one!
Lewis, Gaz and I all went for steak and chips as we had read on the reviews that the steaks were a real must try, and they were right. The whole meal was delicious and my only negative is that it was so good we didn’t leave any room for dessert! If you’re visiting Guernsey I definitely recommend a trip to Slaughterhouse!
Feeling the need to walk off some of our dinner we decided to walk to the end of the Castle Pier, constructed in the 1850’s connecting the South esplanade to Castle Cornet.
At the end the Castle Breakwater there is a lighthouse, completed in 1868, which is a great spot to admire the views looking out over the castle and the harbour. Again it felt as though we were the only people out there, something we felt often during our stay in Guernsey, and as far as spending quality family time together, I couldn’t think of a better location.
Of course there’s nothing overly peaceful about three hyped up children but I just love seeing their excitement when we travel, every new location somewhere new to explore, and I can’t help but think how lucky they, and we, are to have had the most amazing Summer together, making memories to treasure for always.
Thinking that our night had come to an end we walked back towards the castle only to find that crowds were swarming into the castle where we realised that, by coincidence, out trip coincided with this years KPMG Castle Nights where the gates of the castle are thrown open for a night of music, food and drink.
We had actually planned to visit Castle Cornet the following day so the free admission was very much welcomed and we couldn’t wait to have a look around. The 800 year old castle is actually far bigger than it looks at first glance, with five museums, four period gardens and, during the day, guided tours and daily attractions.
Once inside the kids couldn’t wait to explore and enjoyed getting hands on with the stocks and some of the old anchors going back as far as 1550. Over the years the castle has been occupied by both French and German troops, the most recent being during the German occupation of the Channel Islands during the second world war when the castle was known as Stuzpunkt Hafenschloss.
As we made our way further into the castle we were met by the sound if music and discovered a brass band playing to a large crowd of people. The saxophonist was incredible and had everyone dancing along!
Up the stairs into the Medieval Castle the children discovered yet more canons, and the novelty still hadn’t worn off! There is so much of the castle to explore, it is said to allow three hours to see everything when visiting on an average day.
From the top of the castle we could see back along the pier towards the lighthouse and were just in time to see the Condor Ferry coming in to dock. The views from the top of the castle are fantastic and you can see right the way across St Peter Port which is particularly beautiful as the sun began to set. I loved how, despite the fact one of the biggest events of the year was taking place, there was still such a relaxed atmosphere at the castle with people sitting on picnic blankets with the kids, enjoying food and drink and listening to the music. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to an event like it and it was so special to be experiencing it with the children too.
There was such a great variety of music playing, suiting all ages and tastes, and I don’t think there was a single person watching who wasn’t clapping, tapping, or dancing along. I think I will always remember that night as my favourite moment we shared together in Guernsey.
At the end of the night we made our way back down from the castle and the short walk back to our hotel. Our day in Guernsey had been eventful and I think we were all more than ready for our bed. That night as I tucked the children in beside me, kissed them goodnight and asked then what their favourite part of the day had been, I should have known before the answer before it even left their lips, “Sitting on the cannons!”.
The following morning we were due to leave to sail back to Poole and, although that didn’t go quite to plan due to the sailing being cancelled, we did get to enjoy a lovely day in the sun, swimming in our hotel pool, and making a few more memories of Guernsey. As we finally set sail that evening, I was sad to say goodbye and yet confident that we would be back, even if just for another flying visit.
** Disclosure – our travel and accommodation was kindly gifted to us in exchange for an honest review **