A Day in the Isle of Sark

Views from the trail to the Venus Pool, Sark, Channel Islands.

Sark is one of the Channel Islands, an archipelago off the coast of Normandy. An undeniably stunning island, Sark is a great place to head to for a day trip or a weekend away, being just three miles long and one and a half miles wide! A place that will make you feel like you have gone back in time, Sark is perfect if you are looking for somewhere more unusual to explore in the U.K.

Sark has an estimated average population of six hundred people, although that increases during the Summer months. The island is popular with tourists and tourism is the most important contributor to its economy. However, you will find that few people you meet will know of the island and even fewer will have been before. Visiting is a little like being inducted into an exclusive club, especially as it can only be reached by boat, either by hiring a private charter or travelling from Jersey (using Manche Iles Express) or Guernsey (using Isle of Sark Shipping Company). The island’s secluded, remote vibe is only added to by the fact that the only vehicles allowed on Sark are tractors, mobility scooters, bicycles or horse-drawn carriages – no cars! This is one of Sark’s unique features and it has helped to make the island the first Dark Sky Island in the entire world, alongside the absence of public lighting and restrictions on islanders’ outdoor lighting! Sark was deemed a Dark Sky Community Preserve in 2011, which is an area that restricts artificial light pollution to the extent that astronomy can be conducted using the naked eye. Sark was the first place in the whole of Europe to be awarded this title and its amazing night sky views are simply awe-invoking.

Sea views from Sark, Channel Islands.

Though self-governing, Sark forms part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey but it has a lengthy and fascinating history of its own stretching back to the Roman Empire. Not only was the island the last feudal state in Western civilisation, it was formally home to monks and was later a base for pirates during the 16th Century. Sark has been invaded numerous times over the ages, including in the 1940s by Nazi Germans. The island has also developed its own language, the now dis-used Sercquiais. Important historical events are not solely limited to times long ago though. Women in Sark only obtained equal property inheritance rights in 1999, and in 1990 nuclear physicist André Gardes sailed from France and attempted to invade the island with a gun to claim it as his own. He was apprehended and arrested, although he made a second attempt after he was released that was intercepted. Sark’s distinctive past is a stand-alone reason to visit the island, and can be explored in depth at Sark’s Museum.

Despite being such a little island, do not underestimate how much Sark offers. It is split in two, connected by a long bridge called La Coupeé that leads from Greater Sark to Little Sark. The concrete covering was built in 1945 by German prisoners of war and before the railings were erected islanders would have to crawl across the bridge on windy days to avoid being blown over the side to a deadly drop. On the island you can find a small police station and jail with two tiny cells that are rarely used, and to the South of Little Sark there are two natural tidal pools called the Venus Pool and the Adonis Pool. The Venus Pool is the easiest to get to but both are covered by the sea as it comes in, so check tide times if you want to see them in all their glory. You can also reach the mystical Sark Henge on the South-East of the island, a site built in 2015 with nine one-eyed granite stones that are aligned with nine island landmarks.

Sark has a vistors centre where you can find information on popular local walks but other great sights include the Buddhist Carving on the island’s North-West Coast, a large stone intricately carved by a Tibetan Buddhist Monk in 1999, although it looks to be much older. Sark’s brilliant-white Lighthouse can be found on the North-East Coast, having stood since 1913. On the South-West Coast sits La Grande Grève, which is Sark’s largest and most popular beach with a wide sandy shore and deep turquoise water. The beach can only be accessed via a steep cliff path and stairs down. On the East Coast, just before you reach La Coupeé, you can find a cliff path that leads to Dixcart Bay, a sand and shingle bay that often has boats anchored in its waters and offers great island views. Another must-see is the famous Gouliot Caves on the West Coast, which are home to stunning multi-coloured anemone. These caves make for an unreal trip, but can only be seen at low tide and are difficult to access so it is advisable to go with a guide if you want an adventure.

A natural waterfall on Dixcart Bay, Sark, Channel Islands.

As mentioned previously, the only way on or off Sark is by boat. Do be aware that the journey is seriously choppy and those who get sea-sick – like me – would be well advised to prepare for a bumpy journey. Those who are disabled or struggle to get around will find that many of the cliff path routes or rural trails to reach the bays and other attractions, including the Venus and Adonis Pools, have no disabled access and can be very difficult. In addition, get a map before you go or as you arrive, as it would greatly help you if you plan to go sight-seeing. While the well-used lanes have great signposting, the little trails and paths through meadows and along cliffs are not generally signposted and it is easy to get lost. Also, do not underestimate how long it can take to get around the island! Its size is deceiving because most of the lanes are winding and many sites have a tough descent or long hike to reach them. Especially if you are thinking of a day trip, I would advise hiring a bike from one of many places in Sark. You will get around much quicker and hire is inexpensive but take note that the island has very uneven terrain that can make it difficult to ride in some places and there are some routes where bikes cannot be brought entirely.

Sark has a raw, incredibly natural beauty with astounding panoramic views over the ocean from every side. Often referred to as the Crown Jewel of the Channel Islands, visiting is a unique experience unlike any other!

View on the route to La Coupée, Sark, Channel Islands.

6 thoughts on “A Day in the Isle of Sark

  1. I just love sark and you’ve shown me a few places I haven’t seen I will make a point of seeing them next time I go. Sark is always a great place to recharge your spirit. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love jersey but have never been to Sark. It looks magical. Thank you for sharing the beauty and the practicalities. I will head there this late July if possible!. Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

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