865 More Steps--Who's Counting- and Major Foul-up

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Where I stayed
BEST WESTERN Hotel De Havelet St Peter Port
Read my review - 5/5 stars
What I did
La Gran'mere du Chimquiere
Parish Church of St Martin
Saint Bay
Moulin Huet Bay
Jerbourg Point Cliff Walk

Flag of United Kingdom  , Channel Islands,
Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I was so efficient this morning - getting up at 7 am, catching an early breakfast, showering, packing up and checking out by 9:30.  I left my bags in the B&B dining room.  Davina, the manager, said there had never been any problem.  I walked to the bus station and immediately caught a bus for St Martin, a village near the Southern coastal path.

It took me a while to find the old menhir in front of the Parish Church of St Martin but my helper lady was very nice.  I think I haven't really adjusted to the small map scale.  I think I am over here and, no, I have managed to get way over there.  But I went through some of those lanes that bring to my mind old English villages and are so lovely that I ended up taking quite a few photos.  Of course, I had my little trauma here because I discovered I hadn't put the memory card back into the SLR.  I got out my spares and found to my utter horror that my spare card was full so I switched the card from the fuji.  I should fix all that now.

When I got to the Parish Church of St Martin, I found Gran'mere at the gate.  A fitting place for her.  The lovely stone church was closed but it was surrounded by its cemetery - in four elevated plots front, back and on one side.  Of course, I had to wander around and take more photos.  It is interesting that the cemeteries I have seen don't date back that far - or it may be that I just can't read the inscriptions on the stones dating back farther than the mid 1800's.  This cemetery had stones in English and French.  At first I thought one section was only French, but it turned out to be mixed. 

After I tore myself away from the cemetery, I headed for what I thought would be the coast.  I was still in town, so I asked at a bakery.  It is too bad I wasn't more flexible - I was thinking apple tart - and they had some beautiful looking breads, but I should have gotten a scone.  The baker was very helpful and gave me precise directions and good wishes for a lovely walk as he gestured with floured arms.  Of course, somehow, I got off track, but eventually made my way to the cliff walk.

Today it is misty, so it is not a perfect day for the cliff walk because it is very hard to see the water and the cliffs.  In a few places, the fog lifted a bit.  I was torn between whether the foggy atmosphere added to the experience or detracted.  I tried to work with it.  I do think it made the walk much less hot and that is a good thing.  I dislike how sentences will disappear as I am typing and the redo doesn't bring them back.  The landscape from the beginning of my walk to Jerbourg Point was fairly open with gorse and other shrubs, lots of wildflowers - daisies, red campion, Queen Anne's lace and some yellow flowers I have yet to identify.  At some points, I could only hear the waves and the gulls screaming.  At other points I could see the rocks faintly below - very faintly.  As I went on, the rocks became clearer at times.  The path went up and down but was quite pleasant and I was happy walking along taking photos.

I saw some steps leading down - a long way down to a small stoney beach - and tried to decide whether I needed to get down there.  A young couple had just walked down.  I probably should have given them privacy for their picnic lunch, but instead decided I should experience a closer look at the beach.  I looked at the amazing variety of stones - these seemed to have particularly large-grained markings.  I wanted them all!  But I left them to the sea.  I started back up the stairs and this is when I decided I would start counting the steps.  There were 302 - I am pretty sure.

This was Saint Bay I think.  Afterwards I followed the coast cliff way up and down and counted the steps.  There were some great views along the way.  I love how the sea gulls - though they may be nasty birds - glide through the sky over the cliffs.  I enjoyed the fuscias, whites and yellows of the wildflowers and the fresh smell of the sea.  The temperature was perfect - a little cool.  The map shows a large sandy expanse for Moulin Huet Bay, but I don't remember seeing much sand - some rocks and water through the mist.  I tried to capture in my photos the mist coming up the side of the cliff in fast moving whiffs.

When I got to the Jerbourg Point overlook, I started quizzing the folks who had walked up more steps whether walking down to the shore was worth it.  Two couples agreed that it wasn't really, but, after talking with the second couple, I found out that going down was the continuation of the path and, if I wanted to continue, that was the way I had to go.  So I fortified myself with a coffee ice cream cone and headed down the steps this time.  I had already climbed 535 steps at this point, but I was only counting the steps up and not the ones down.  To walk out to the coast station where the fog horn blew, I had to go up steps at the end and retrace myself.  I hadn't planned to do anything extra but seeing the rock cliffs close up was too enticing so I went.  I was happy that I had.

From Jerbourg Point on the eastern shore, the landscape was more wooded and not so dry .  There were a few streams and pine trees as well as other trees with twisted-trunks - still lots of wildflowers.  Here and there I also saw some clusters of foxglove.  Beautiful!  The blisters on my feet were beginning to bother me again.  I think these old trainers need to be replaced.  So I gingerly walked along trying not to roll on the blistered bits.  Actually, it is much worse when I stopped and had to start again, but generally I just kept on with the short breaks created by taking photos.

I had planned to head inland to find the bus stop somewhere between 3:30 and 4 pm.  This plan worked out well because I got to a sign that said Calais and I knew that was on the way to the bus stop - more or less.  I forgot to mention that the area between the main road and the cliff walk has some of the most gorgeous houses and gardens that I have seen yet here on Guernsey.  This was definitely the sight I had been missing in my earlier Guernsey experiences.  I used the compass I got at the Lost Gardens of Heligan to get me in the right direction and asked some workmen.  It is interesting that when people say something is right up the road here, the distance seems much longer than it would be at home.  I walked for quite a ways until I found the bus stop but luckily there was a bus there.  It had started moving, but when I started quasi-running after it, it stopped and I got on.  A very short ride and I was back at the St Peter Point city center bus stop, walked back to the B&B, re-shuffled my bag contents a bit, and walked - or what approximated for walking - with my heavy lumps of baggage front and back - to the ferry terminal.

The ferry seemed miles away and when I finally got there, I was totally confused about where to go to get my ticket.  This is when I again had the notion that I should have gotten the ticket in advance.  I went from one office to another  It was now 5 pm.  I thought the ferry left at 6 pm.  A man in front of me at the counter was trying to get tickets so he could be in St Malo for some conference and there weren't any except for 100's of pounds.  While he kept working on all the myriad possibilities, I was getting more anxious.  He let the young woman attend to me and she told me the last ferry for the day had just closed its gates.  Oh, oh.

This, of course, was hugely disappointing - and exasperating - since I could have/should have avoided it.  Plus it was painful because of the walking around with my bags.  I could have taken a taxi I guess.  Now I needed to find accommodations for the extra night.  I didn't want to go back to the B&B because it was too long of a walk and I didn't like it there that much.  So instead I walked at least as much trying to find a place closer to the ferry that had a vacancy.  Finally I got to Moore's Best Western and the young desk clerk called around a bunch of other hotels and found me a room and called me a cab to get me there.  What an angel!!

The cab driver had a bad hip so he couldn't help with my bags but he was amused by my predicament.  He told me that the hotels were short of rooms because so many hotels were being converted into apartments.  There weren't that many tourists on Guernsey because of the bad fiscal times and there wasn't much to do unless you walked the cliffs and not everyone could do that - he said - since he had a bad hip. 

The young German desk clerk here at the hotel was very nice and I got my kind of rustic, wood-paneled, twin-bedded room.  Nice hot shower and I felt a lot better except maybe for my feet.  I was hungry and so decided I would eat at their restaurant rather than trying out their health facility with steam room and sauna.  Too bad - I would have liked a sauna.  My dinner was nice.  I need to try to call American Express so I can use that card tomorrow am when I check out since I missed out on my double miles in St Austell because the card was denied.

When I got back to the desk clerk, I asked him what people in Guernsey do for a living.  I had been wondering, after all.  I said it wasn't farming.  He said there were farms but not that many any more.  He felt that about 60% were in the banking and finance field.  After getting back to the room, I took a nap - thinking I would only close my eyes for a little bit.  I woke up at 1 am and didn't think I would do anything but go back to bed.  Instead I am blogging.  The photos will have to wait though.  I am still tired.  It has been a tough day - the cliff walk was tiring but fantastic.  I could have done without the ferry botch-up.

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