My Kind of Place: the Channel Islands

The archipelago famed for its livestock, clothing and unspoilt coastlines is worth exploring.

Gorey Harbour and Mont Orgueil Castle, Jersey. The 13th-century castle is part of the Channel Islands’ historic architecture. Getty Images

Why the Channel Islands?

The Channel Islands are an archipelago located in the English Channel. Politically, these islands are British crown dependencies, with their own parliaments. Geographically, they lie closer to France. Situated as they are, unsurprisingly the islands are littered with architectural testaments to past strife, from the imposing 13-century Mont Orgueil Castle built to deter French invasions to formidable fortifications constructed during the German Second World War occupation.

Jersey is only 117 square kilometres and Guernsey 62, yet together with the even smaller Alderney, Herm and Sark, contain stupendous unspoilt coastlines, abundant flora – best seen in the spring – and unique fauna, both wild and domestic, including eponymous breeds of heritage dairy cattle.

A comfortable bed

Maison Gorey (www.maisongorey.com; 0044 1534 857775 is an inviting budget option for a quiet holiday exploring Jersey's east coast. It's a five-minute walk to the beach and 15 minutes to Mont Orgueil Castle, with exquisite views across to France. Bustling St Helier is 20 minutes away by frequent public bus. Double rooms are £70 (Dh399), including breakfast.

The place to stay for a room with a view is La Fregate (www.lafregatehotel.com; 0044 1481 724624). Its comfortable, well-appointed rooms overlook Guernsey's scenic St Peter Port Harbour. Doubles are £190 (Dh1,082), including breakfast.

Find your feet

The 185-kilometre-long Channel Island Way links the coastal footpaths that circle the perimeters of the five main Channel Islands. Completing the entire circuit requires advance planning to coordinate ferry and other schedules.

Multiple shorter alternatives beckon to those with less time or stamina. Jersey (www.libertybus.je) and Guernsey (www.buses.gg) are well-served by hop-on, hop-off buses, so walkers can return to the same hotel base every evening. Widely-available free maps offer guidance on routes and points of interest.

Dramatic heather-clad cliffs dominate Jersey’s north coast. The path is steep in parts, so allow ample time, and bear in mind the changeable weather. The south coast is gentler, more suited to families with young children. Circumnavigating Jersey on foot will take four to seven days.

Meet the locals

Jersey’s Central Market and the nearby Fish Market (also known as the Beresford Market) in St Helier attract visitors and locals in search of antiques, cakes, crafts, fish, flowers, meat and Jersey specialities, including cream and Black Butter – a traditional apple preserve. Both markets are open Monday to Saturday from 7.30am to 5.30pm, except for Thursdays, when both close early.

Book a table

During Tennerfest (www.tennerfest.com), an annual event, more than 180 restaurants serve up multi-course menus for £10 (Dh57) or £20 (Dh114). This year's event runs from October 1 to November 11.

Ormer (www.ormerjersey.com; 0044 1534 725100) received its first Michelin star four months after opening. Once you've tasted a side order of chef Shaun Rankin's buttered Jersey royal potatoes £5 [Dh28], no other spud will ever quite measure up. The tasting menu showcases island ingredients, especially fish and lamb (£75 [Dh427]).

At an outside table at Sumas (www.sumasrestaurant.com; 0044 1534 853291), begin with briny local oysters (£1.70 [Dh10] each) while gazing over Jersey's Royal Grouville Bay, where they were harvested hours before. Sunday lunch is also a favourite (two courses £20 [Dh114]; three courses £30 [Dh171]).

St Peter Port's cosy Le Petit Bistro (www.petitbistro.co.uk; 0044 1481 725055) dishes up bistro classics, including the house special duck duo (£17 [Dh97]). Round off the meal with a selection of French cheeses (£10 [Dh57]).

Shopper’s paradise

The centres of St Helier and St Peter's Port feature standard British high-street stores and local options. For something more exclusive, the award-winning jewellery designer Catherine Best and her master jewellers (www.catherinebest.com) fashion stunning pieces, including bespoke commissions. Visit either the Guernsey or Jersey studio, each housed in a historic building.

Classic handfinished Guernsey jumpers are still made and marketed locally by Le Tricoteur (www.guernseyjumpers.com; 0044 1481 266881) in a wide range of colours, including traditional navy blue.

What to avoid

Getting stranded by weather or crowds. For those who opt for ferries rather than flights from the UK, advance bookings are essential in peak season (www.condorferries.co.uk). Keep a close eye on the weather forecast, particularly in off-season, as storms can cause flight or ferry cancellations.

Don’t miss

Victor Hugo lived in Hauteville House (www.visitguernsey.com/victor-hugo-house) for 14 years during his exile from France. Here, he wrote Les Misérables and Les Travailleurs de la Mer – the novel about a Guernsey fisherman that he dedicated to the island. Open daily, except Wednesdays, from 10am to 4pm, April to September; access only by guided tour; £7 [Dh40].

Go there

Emirates (www.emirates.com) offers return flights from Dubai to London from Dh3,425. From Gatwick, easyJet (www.easyjet.com) and British Airways (www.ba.com) fly to Jersey from £42 (Dh239) return, while Aurigny (www.aurigny.com) serves Guernsey from £115 (Dh665) return.

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