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MARCH 2014

La Rocque Harbour – Jersey South East coast.

Latitude 49 09.80N

Longitude 002 01.92W

The harbour was fist established following a petition to the States of the Island of Jersey (1825) by local boat owners (fishermen). The petition asked that a wall be built between the rocks Le Groznet and La Grande Sambiere. In 1826 the building of a harbour was approved at a cost not to exceed £500. In 1873 a large number of La Rocque fishermen petitioned the States to ask for a breakwater to be built. A “Shelter Pier” was given approval to be built in1881 at a cost of £3,500.

Today the harbour is a popular place for recreational boaters and a few inshore commercial fishermen. The harbour also provides a sheltered area of sandy beach, which is a "favourite place" with visitors and families with small children. The beach kiosk on the harbour walkway does a brisk trade in ice cream during balmy summer days.

APRIL 2014

Fort Rozel - Jersey North Coast.

Latitude 049º 14' 00"N

Longitude 002º 02' 20"W

Fort Rozel as seen from the seaward approach to the historic (1829) Rozel harbour. Over the centuries the headland was considered to be a strategic position for a fort. There is evidence of use as a defensive site from the remains of an Iron Age Fort “Le Câtel de Rozel” which is presently covered by a bank of soil. Coins and a bronze dagger have also been found near the site that suggests Iron Age and earlier Neolithic use.

The more recent Napoleonic Fort was reconstructed and extended in 2002 by the renowned architect, Ben Tindall, and remains a Board of Trade ordinance fort. The historic links were sympathetically included when the landscape architect, Peter Daniel, reconstructed the gardens. The gardens presently consist of terraced “spaces” connected by intricate paths reflecting how it might have been done in the 18th and 19th century.

MAY 2014

Archirondel Tower – Jersey East Coast.

Latitude 049º 21' 20"N

Longitude 002º 02' 36"W

The tower is one of a number of defenses situated around the island’s coastline. The tower is a “Round Tower” built in 1793 but is often mistakenly identified as a “Martello” tower, which actually stem from a much earlier period. Originally constructed on a small tidal island, “La Roche Rondel,” it was land linked during the 19th century by the beginnings of the southern arm to a British Admiralty projected naval harbour. The harbour was however never completed and the legacy of the ill fated project is the short stub of the southern arm at Archirondel and the northern arm “Verclut” now commonly known as “St Catherine’s Breakwater”. During the Second World War the Germans significantly strengthened the tower with the addition of concrete floors and stair. The Battery was altered to accommodate a fixed machine gun in lieu of the historic (obsolete) cannon. For the latter part of the 20th century the tower’s only function was that of a navigational aid to seaman, hence the distinctive red and white exterior. With the advent of adventure holidays, exotic and unique locations, “Jersey Heritage” converted the tower to a basic holiday home. The accommodation consists of seven places to lay out sleeping bags inside the tower with toilets and showers nearby at the beach café.

June 2014

Sorel Point Lighhouse – Jersey North Coast.

Latitude 049° 15’·60" N

Longitude 002° 09’·54" W

Sorel Point Lighthouse (1938) is located on the most northerly tip of the island. The lighthouse does not fit the stereotype form of a lighthouse, free standing on an isolated rock offshore. Instead, it is a simple structure that is best described as a cylindrical concrete pillbox. Originally the lighthouse was painted in a black and white check-board pattern and with a long window out of which the light shone brightly. In 2009 the lighthouse was repainted all white and the light was replaced by a small yellow lantern on top of the structure transmitting a white or red light depending on direction and with the light characteristics of 2 seconds ON and 5.5 seconds OFF.

Nestled into the cliff, 50 metres above mean sea level and standing only 3 metres high, it is accessible to those who care to walk down the short coastal path. Subsequently, the lighthouse is possibly better known to walkers than mariners. The short hike down the coastal path to the small platform just in front of the lighthouse enables the visitor to enjoy the most glories views. When looking in a westerly direction the islands of Guernsey and Sark provide the backdrop to the outlying rocks of the Paternosters. However, looking easterly the massive workings of Ronez Quarry and parts of a dilapidated jetty are a stark reminder of how parts of the island have been sacrificed in the pursuit of meeting the needs of an increasing population. Hopefully, the more people that take advantage of the stunning coastal views, whether by land or sea, will “raise a voice” that will defend any future destruction of this beautiful coastline.

JULY 2014

Elizabeth Castle – Jersey South Coast.

Latitude 049° 17’·54" N

Longitude 002° 12’·56" W

The north entrance to Elizabeth Castle, as seen, when the causeway is covered by tide. Elizabeth Castle consists of numerous structures forming a historic defensive position against invasion from the south. It is constructed on a series of rocky outcrops, sometimes referred to as a small island orislet in St. Aubin’s Bay. The castle and defensive walls were built up and developed over many centuries with the earliest known structure (1155) being the “Priory of St. Helier” which stood where the presence castle is now built. The various elements of the castle, as we know it today, are divided into the following groupings: Hermitage Rock, Upper Ward. Lower Ward. Outer Ward (The Green) and Charles Fort. The picture shows the “Lower Meadow Bastion, Part of the Curtain wall, North (Landward) Gate with Belfry and the eastern side of Charles Fort”.

The Castle is a main attraction to those who visit the island to discover its history or families just wanting to relax. The site is managed by Jersey Heritage who provide: an excellent museum, a small holiday apartment within the castle walls and daily exhibitions featuring solders in period dress. A restaurant and the amphibious Castle Ferry are operated by a franchisee.


Ronez Quarry – Jersey north coast.

Latitude 049° 15’·60" N

Longitude 002° 09’·02" W

Ronez Quarry was formerly known as La Houle. The quarry is situated on the most northerly part of the island in the Parish of St. John. It has been operated commercially since the early nineteen hundreds. A jetty was begun in 1902 at a cost of £1,000 and the first vessel, the SS Senator Kruger, loaded a cargo of quarried stone for export to “The Surry Docks” from the new jetty in the October of the following year. The swell hammering and breaking in bad weather along the north coast of the island has always meant that berthing alongside the jetty could be described as tricky. Vessels were warped into the jetty using mooring buoys laid under the direction of the St Helier Harbour Master, who subsequently charged all costs incurred to the quarry.

Ronez was taken over and run by the Germans during the Second World War and as they had no need for the jetty they blew it up and toppled the carne into the deep-water berth. It was not until 1957 when the jetty had been fully restored that the coaster, MV Marshlea, berthed alongside and took on cargo for the first time since the war. The MV Marshlea continued in this role until 1971 when the MV Ronez replaced it. In 1978 all export of stone was ceased.

Today the quarry is still active but its operations now include supply of other building materials and aggregates. The legacy of the old pier can still be seen but it has fallen into disrepair. The destruction the quarrying operations have made to the coastline is dramatic and it is possibly a kindness of nature that that part of the coast is obscured from view unless when seen from those on the sea.


Rozel Harbour – Jersey northeast coast.

Latitude: 49º 14'N

Longitude: 02º 03'W

Rozel harbour has a very interesting history. The natural cove with its small pier and pleasant area of sandy beach would not appear to today’s casual user as having been developed from the need to defend the island from the French.

However, during the 18th century a platform was constructed on which two cannons were positioned to defend the island from attack during the Napoleonic Wars. When the hostilities ceased, in the early part of the 19th century, a rise in oyster fishing developed which led to the Harbours Committee recommending that a pier be built. A sum of £2,000 was allocated and work commenced.

The short pier provided greater protection for the oyster fishing boats seeking shelter or to land catches of the precious cargo of oysters. By 1834 nearly 300 oyster boats were operating from the harbours situated around the coast of the island. Due to the ease of access for boats fishing off the reef known as Les Ecrehous just 8 nMs away from the harbour it became a preferred port for many of the local fishermen.

Today the harbour is home to around 40 small pleasure craft and a few part-time fishermen. The owners have formed a local boat owners association, the “Rozel Bay Boat Owners Association,” which provides a social network and also actively represents the boat owners’ interests to the local governing authorities.

The attraction of being part of or simply to watch men, women and children messing about on the beach or on the water has led to the harbour being a favourite spot for many to spend time enjoying the location. For those just taking time to sit and relax at one of the restaurants or purchasing a crab sandwich from the harbour beach hut, the experience will lodge in their memory as one of the simple pleasures of life to be enjoyed and remembered.


Plemont Cove – Jersey northwest coast.

Latitude: 49º 15'.99N

Longitude: 02º 13'.58W

Plemont cove is on the coastline of the district of Porttinfer in the Parish of St. Ouen. The cove is commonly known as Plemont beach but has a variety of historic names (and spellings): Greve au Lancon, Greve au L'anchon, Grève au Lançon, La Greve au Lanchon, La Grève au Lanchon and Plémont Beach.

The cove can be accessed by foot via a coastal walk and a series of steps down to the beach. Access from the sea is not possible by large craft and is infrequently visited by other craft owing to the large swell and “rollers” that are always present except in the calmest of conditions. The most likely craft to be sighted are when young, fit and adventurous enthusiasts take to their surfboards or kayaks.

The actual cove does not feature in many historic documents apart from a few accounts making mention of a searchlight shelter and fencing off of the beach by the Germans during the Second World War. Its “claim to fame” is almost entirely artistic or photographic. For many people it is considered to be the most beautiful of bays in the Bailiwick of Jersey.

It is a most rewarding spot to visit for those that make the effort to explore the area. An amazing view taking in the cove and cliffs or looking out to seaward toward the distant isles of Guernsey and Sark can be enjoyed from the small restaurant perched on the cliff immediately above the beach.


St Brelade Bay Jetty – Jersey south-coast

Latitude 049° 10’·54" N

Longitude 002° 12’·69" W

The short jetty has an obscure history as to why it was constructed. An early map of the south coastline and harbours of the island (Phillips' 1600’s) showed it as a 'La Chaussee' ('sea-wall'). The definition perhaps indicates that its construction may be linked to the churchyard to protect it from the ravages and erosion caused by the weather. During the eighteen century a military battery, Le Coleron, (Also known as Le Don Morley) was built just above the jetty on the projecting part of the rocky hook in the coastline that distinguishes St Brelades Bay from the small cove of Bouilly Port.

The jetty is a favourite spot for anglers and provides a degree of protection for small craft moored, using outhaul lines, within its shelter. The short pathway leading down to the jetty was the subject of considerable contention in the recent past when it was thought that access might be deigned. The jetty and battery are in a designated “Zone of Outstanding Character” and for those that enjoy short walks that provide outstanding views, then setting time aside to explore this local gem of a beauty spot is well worth the effort.


Elizabeth Harbour – Jersey South Coast.

Latitude 049º 10' 58"N

Longitude 002º 07' 06"W

The historic record as to the beginnings of the small service harbour for what is now commonly known as “Elizabeth Castle” is vague. The harbour does not appear to have any historical name and is today simply know as “Elizabeth Harbour”.

The short jetty forming the enclosure serves as a vital link with the main island (Jersey) whenever access is restricted by the tide (causeway) for daily provisioning of the castle.

The harbour has in recent years come under the administration of Jersey Heritage who has oversight for the whole of the historic site. A small launch can often be spotted making the short hop from the Port of St Helier into the little harbour with provisions for the café or ferrying staff or workmen to the islet.

The photograph that is published does not however, show the Elizabeth Castle harbour launch, but features my own small vessel on one of many visits to the islet for a picnic during the early evening in the summer months.

Earlier this year Jersey Harbours issued a General Direction (No 14. Dated: 28/10/14) stating that vessels under sail navigating in the area, without motorized propulsion, must comply with the regulation by obtaining prior permission before entering the Port of St Helier harbour limits. While one can understand the purpose of this requirement in today’s busy port environment it will in practice deter a small group of young sailors from entering the area for sail training.

For many years young sailors in their dinghies have aligned the transits into the harbour, (Archway inset into the inner wall of the harbour inline with outer jetty) to sail between the heads of rocks on either side. Then having entered the harbour, perform a 360 degrees turnabout and then sail out again between the rock heads. Performing the entry / exit in just over 7 metres of tide never failed to excite the young budding sailors as they tested their skill, often close tacking between the rocks.

Hopefully, the next generation of sailors will find places to practice these skills in their small lightweight dinghies before they have to demonstrate them while on a RYA practical course in an expensive 12-metre yacht. 

January 2015

Seymour Tower – Jersey South-East Coast.

Latitude 049º 09' 47"N

Longitude 002º 00' 51"W

In 1781 French troops landed on the nearby beach at La Rocque and marched across the island into the town of St Helier. The battle that pursued resulted in the Lieutenant Governor of the island surrendering. However, Jersey troops, led by Major Pierson fought off the French and took back the island. The Major lost his life in the battle and historians have written many accounts of his decisive leadership. The battle was the most significant moment in the island remaining part of the United Kingdom and the battle itself has become known as “The Battle of Jersey”.

Seymour tower was constructed the following year as one of twenty-three coastal towers that were built to better prepare the island against further attack from the French. This tower differs from the others, Martello / Conway towers, in so much as it is the only one that is of a square construction and that it lies just over one nautical mile offshore. The tower is named after the Governor of Jersey, General Sir Henry Seymour Conway who ordered the towers to be built.

Now used as short stay holiday accommodation, with basic facilities, it offers an amazing atmosphere when surrounded by the flood tide and a unique outlook as the tide recedes and exposes the many rocky reefs that appear to rise to the surface as the tide ebbs. 

Although possible to access the tower by small craft when the tower has become surround by the tide, the most popular way to reach the tower is by foot tracking a path around the reefs on beautiful soft sand.

Local fishermen with experience of the “gutters”, gullies of shallow water between the heads of rocks, can often been seen fishing for the large Bass lurking in the rocky crevasses. Knowledge passed down from father to son as to just when the tide is right to “sling the hook” to tempt them to take the bait is the key to the area not having been overfished and the reward of many years of keeping the family knowledge a secret.

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