THE CHANNEL ISLANDS: Sark

Father and daughters paddling on Sark lr
Father and daughters enjoy a paddle in the lovely cool sea on a hot summer's day

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Sark is a wonderful haven of peace and tranquility, Tim Saunders and his family discover
 
The island of Sark is a 50-minute ferry crossing from Guernsey.
Having packed our picnic we board the Sark bound vessel at 10am from Saint Peter Port and look forward to our day ahead. The island promises peace and solitude thanks to there being no cars.
The only way to travel to Sark is by ferry because there is no airport. Between April and October the blue and white boat carries 45,000 return passengers.
It quickly becomes apparent how choppy the seas are and the small vessel bobs up and down, the passengers watching the ever-changing scene of sea to sky and back from the windows. There is a distinct look of fear on all of our faces that heightens the senses. Those of us who have travelled from mainland England on the comparatively smooth Condor Ferries trimaran might be just a little surprised at the choppiness of the Sark Shipping Company crossing. It certainly requires a strong stomach on this occasion. But this is to be expected when considering the small size of this particular ferry. Little Henry (3) copes for the best part of the journey but the waves that push the boat repeatedly up and down do it once too often for his liking and a white bag is quickly passed his way. This situation does give us all greater understanding of what a seafarer’s life is like and how hardy our fishermen have to be.
We arrive at Maseline Harbour and gratefully clamber off into the glorious summer sunshine. The toast rack tractor ride greets visitors but we choose to walk up the hill and along a track beside the road that introduces us to the island’s delightful flora and fauna as well as insects such as grasshoppers and a stunning butterfly that we have not come across before. Black all over with white lines down its wings, which are closed when it rests. When it flies off its delightful orange undercarriage is revealed. I try to video this but it moves too quickly.
We’re never very far away from tractors so it is necessary for the children, especially, to be vigilant when walking on the tracks around the island. In time we come to a pub, at the start of the main village. Ahead of us are horses and carriages, offering island tours. Bicycles are another good way of travelling about, too. We rely on our feet, though and although Henry (3) needs the occasional piggy back and mummy cuddle, we muddle through, all the while savouring the wonderful landscape. In fact once Henry is bribed with daddy’s brioche he agrees to walk and not have mummy carrying him. He finds a stick and leads the way. At the village centre we decide to turn left, which unknown to us leads past fields towards a delightful secluded beach, Les Laches, where we arrive about an hour later. We walk down to it via steep steps and find that it is just us on this sandy paradise; a great location for our picnic.
It’s a wonderfully relaxing time that sees us paddle and build a big sandcastle complete with its own moat. We play catch with Henry while Heidi does a bit of rock climbing near the idyllic waterfall. We watch kayakers and swimmers and two yachts arrive.
Before we know it it’s 330pm and feel it’s about time to set off back up the hill; we don’t want to miss our return crossing at 6pm. Just before 5pm we arrive at Creux Harbour, a stone’s throw from Maseline Harbour, where we must catch our ferry. Caroline and Harriett (8) look for crabs and sea creatures while Henry and Heidi (6) look for shells and stones. We find a red tractor and Henry and Harriett have to sit on it.
While it might be possible to visit all parts of this two square mile island in one day, we cannot. We have discovered that we can’t be too demanding of our children otherwise the day is just not enjoyable. And so we only touch on the beauty of Sark. But we leave all the better for this enriching experience that we will all remember for the rest of our lives.
At 6pm we board the ferry back to Saint Peter Port, Guernsey where Henry sleeps and travels much better as a result.
 
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