To give you a deeper understanding of our cycling and walking holidays in Europe, we like to introduce you to our On Track feature. This is a series of quick Q&A’s on a specific trip from the Sherpa Expeditions offer.
Today’s frequently asked questions are answered by resident guide John, who was in Guernsey last year to see what there is to do on the Channel Island and to select the best trails for our new Guernsey Islands – Channel Island Way trip.
"Guernsey: An active holiday filled with quiet island hopping and coastal bliss!"
#1 Doesn’t the English weather on the Guernsey Islands prevent good walking possibilities?
The Guernsey climate is amongst the mildest and sunniest in the whole of the British Isles, being warmed by the adjacent Gulf Stream and so much further south. Every year, the Island of Guernsey enjoys up to 2,000 hours of sunny weather. During the summer months, the weather is not only sunny, with average daytime temperatures of anywhere between 20°C / 68°F and 25°C / 77°F, but also extremely dry.
April, May and June tend to be the driest months on Guernsey, when precipitation levels rarely top 120 mm / 4.7 inches for this entire period.
#2 What is special about Guernsey walks?
Guernsey and her islands have extensive white sandy beaches and medium-high cliffs with beautiful views. In, at least spring and early summer, this is being topped by some lovely flowers. It is all a little old-fashioned and each of the islands has a unique pace of life and history. Alderney Island seems wilder and has some great bird watching opportunities, Sark Island is a bucolic beauty, and Herm Island has lovely grass backed beaches. Guernsey Island has the most variety and is of course bigger.
#3 What language do people speak on the Guernsey Islands?
The Channel Islands were possessions of the Dukes of Normandy and when after 1066 they took over England, the islands were attached to the English crown. Although most place names and streets are in French, the Guernsey language ‘Guernésiais’, is a Norman French tongue, and you won’t hear much being spoken. People sound English generally and most who speak French are French tourists.
#4 What is a Guernsey holiday and exploring the island on foot like?
Guernsey is certainly getting busier. In the height of summer there are lots of holidaymakers on the beaches, in the capital St Peter Port and on the sister islands. At the same time, there is a surprising amount of countryside and this results in the coastal footpaths, except for perhaps on Herm, not being very busy. When approaching popular beaches, old Nazis fort sites, or when walking through towns it can be a little busier though. There is a surprising lack of development by a lot of the beaches and there are few kiosks or cafes on the Guernsey walks. Out of the high season, there are generally few people around.
#5 What 3 items should we pack for a walk in Guernsey?
- Binoculars... to spot the birdlife, such as puffins on Herm and a large Gannet colony on L’Etacs rocks of Alderney, and woodland birds Guernsey and Sark. You can even use them to spot seals on Herm Island and binoculars are useful for viewing the islands and Normandy from the varying islands,
- Swimming costume... if it is warm enough, and
#6 What extra costs will we make on this trip?
Walkers on this Guernsey holiday must set aside extra budget for ferries to Herm and Sark and the flight to Alderney. Other expenses will be for airport taxis or bus transfers and dinners, lunches and coffees & other drinks. Generally, things are slightly more expensive than much of the UK and the British pound is accepted. Guernsey does have its own currency however, the Guernsey pound, which has been used on the Channel Islands since 1921 and Guernsey still has its own £1 note, as well as a £50, £20, £10 and £5 note like mainland Britain. Some shops also accept Euros and major credit cards are widely accepted throughout the islands. The other way around, Channel Islands notes and coins are not accepted in the UK.
There is no VAT in Guernsey but it is not a duty-free island. ATM machines are available at most high street banks in St Peter Port, the airport and selected sites, including supermarkets, garages and some out of town banks throughout the island.
We hope this information has indeed answered some of the questions you may have had on Guernsey holidays. If you have other queries, please get in touch with John and the Sherpa team via phone or email.
Did you like this Q&A and would you like to get similar details of one of our other active Europe holidays? We’d be happy for you to tell us about your suggestions.
Or if you like to be among the firsts to hear about the latest On Track Q&A destination, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter here.