A virtual tour of Jersey's historical coastline 2

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The route is divided into three sections: This is the second part, taking you from Gorey, past the famous Mont Orgueil Castle, to St Catherine's Breakwater and La Coupe in the north-east corner of the island, before heading along the rugged north coast to l'Etacq.

You can continue your journey by clicking on these links, which also appear at the bottom of this page

You can follow the many blue links in the text to background articles with more detail on many coastal locations. In addition to the many historical photographs used on the main page and accompanying background articles, you will also find links to pages with satellite views of many locations and Street Views of how they look today, as well as links to 360-degree pictures on another site. In all cases just use your browser's 'BACK' button to return to the route.

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Join us on a tour of Jersey's fabulous coastline, highlighting its glorious history.

Part two - Gorey to L'Etacq along the rugged north coast

Jeffrey's Leap

We climb the hill above Gorey Village to head for Mont Orgueil, missing Gouray Church, which strangely was built in 1833 further up the road to the centre of St Martin, rather than in the centre of the village at sea level. The church was needed because the predominantly English villagers in the early 19th century could not understand the French services at the Parish Church and were too numerous for the temporary solution established by the Rector of holding services in English in a room at the Castle.

Just around the corner from the castle there is a sharp precipice before the road descends into Anne Port Bay. At the edge of this precipice can be seen a National Trust for Jersey plaque describing the place as Jeffrey's Leap. This is a reference to one of Jersey's most perpetuated legends. It is said that convicted criminals were sentenced to be cast off the cliffside to meet their death on the rocks below, but one Geoffroi, or Jeffrey, survived the experience, only to perish when he jumped off the cliff again of his own volition, for reasons which the legend does not make entirely clear.

St Catherine

The uncompleted Archirondel breakwater next to the tower, with the completed St Catherine arm in the backgroundl

Our next port of call (excuse the pun) is not a port at all, although it was intended to be Jersey's largest harbour and a haven for the British fleet during the 19th century wars with France. The wars ended before the project could be completed and all that remains is the large breakwater at St Catherine, close to the north-west corner of the island, and the stub of the other arm of the harbour which was to have been built to meet it from the cove called Archirondel.

This is where the telephone cable linking Jersey with France comes ashore, as now do two undersea cables supplying electricity from France. The supply originates at La Haye du Puits and from Archirondel there are two underground cables, one to La Collette, and the other cable goes to Queens Road.

The martello tower at Archirondel was built on La Roche Rondel in 1793, which was then separated from the shore at high water, until in 1847 the British Government began work on their naval station. A start was made at the Archirondel end, linking the tower to the shore and then work switched to the half-mile-long St Catherine arm. By the time it was completed in 1852 and half a million pounds had been spent, work ceased totally. Various reasons are given, but the main one was probably that sail was giving way to steam in the Navy and a harbour of refuge during adverse wind conditions was no longer needed.


A 1905 photograph of Rozel Bay
A 1908 photograph of Rosel Manor

We now turn the corner and start our journey westwards along Jersey's rugged north coast. The steep cliffs are interrupted by a number of small bays where jetties have been built to provide a safe anchorage for fishing vessels, but today they are only used by a handful of amateur fishermen. The first is Rozel. The bay is spelt with a 'z' but the fief and manor inland at clifftop level go by the name of Rosel, the original French spelling. The Bay takes its name from the manor, which is in turn named after the Castle of Rosel opposite on the Normandy coast. Ingram de Fourneaux was Seigneur when Jersey split from Normandy in 1204 and decided to support the French king and retain his possessions in Normandy, sacrificing those in Jersey and Guernsey. Rosel was given to Drogo de Barentin, who was then Warden of the Isles, on condition that he and his successors would ride into the sea to greet any visiting sovereign, and act as their butler during a stay in the island. Royal visits have been so infrequent that Seigneurs of Rosel have rarely been called on to perform these tasks, but in 1989, along with the Seigneur of Augrés, Rosel Seigneur Raoul Lempriere-Robin acted as Butler to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Jersey.

Bouley Bay in 1840
We now cross from St Martin into the large parish of Trinity, heading for Bouley Bay. Immediately after Rozel Bay on the cliff top we find the remains of a great earth rampart, the Castel de Rozel. When built it extended along the headland from Bouley Bay to Rozel, but now only some 200 metres remain, 10 metres thick and over the height of a man. It provide a refuge, with the cliffs preventing access from behind. Whether it was used by islanders to defend themselves against invaders or by visitors seeking refuge in the island to keep islanders at bay is not clear. But the discovery of Roman coins and pre-Roman coins from Gaul have debunked the theory that it was built by Vikings, to hide their spoils between raids on the island, and proved that it was in use many hundreds of years earlier, probably around 32BC by refugees defending themselves against islanders and in their terror burying their treasure in the earth wall.

Bouley Bay nestles below Jersey's highest cliffs, and shares its name, derived from bouleau, a birch tree, with eight French villages. The bay provides a safe, deep anchorage, and was already called a port in the Extente of 1274. The small pier was not constructed until 1828, although some 150 years earlier it was considered a possible location for a substantial harbour. However, there was too little land at sea level to allow for any significant buildings to be constructed and access was extremely difficult, so the plan never came to fruition.

On the clifftop immediately to the South is Jardin d'Olivet, where in 1549 French invaders who had already occupied Sark were repulsed by the Militia and forced to retreat and head for St Malo. During the English Civil War Parliamentary troops landed at Bouley Bay aiming to capture prominent Royalists, but most had already sought refuge in Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castle. The Bay was well defended in the years after the French landing, with a battery at L'Etacquerel Fort to the east and Fort Leicester to the west.

Les Platons

From Bouley Bay we climb the coastal path to Les Platons, the island’s highest point at 160 metres above sea level. A large mound was found here covering a prehistoric grave. Just below is La Pierre de la Fételle, which is thought to be a fallen menhir.

There is a fabulous view over the north coast at Belle Hougue, where two narrow caves have been found in the cliff below, the first of which yielded antlers, teeth and bones of a dwarf prehistoric deer believed to be unique to Jersey, a Neolithic stone axe, but no evidence of human occupation. On the clifftop is La Fontaine ès Mittes, a mineral spring which is claimed to have a variety of curative effects.

La Crete Fort

A 19th century print of La Crete, seen from Bonne Nuit
We now pass above Havre Giffard and can look down on La Crete Fort, built in 1835 and at one time used as a retreat for the island’s Lieut-Governor. Now it is one of a number of properties administered by Jersey Heritage which is available as a holiday let.

We arrive at Bonne Nuit , a picturesque bay. Its jetty was built in 1872, 44 years later than those at Bouley Bay and Rozel, which we have already seen, and at the same time as Greve de Lecq, which is further along our route. It is not known how this bay got its name, which means Goodnight, but it was already known by that name in 1150. We climb out of the bay to Frémont, where the island’s main television transmitter is situated. A steep path leads down to Wolf Cave, one of the finest in the island, over 100 metres long, 20 metres tall and up to 15 metres wide. The cave is not accessible at high tide.

La Route du Nord, built to provide work for Jerseymen in wartime

Wartime road construction

Route du Nord along the cliff top from La Saline to Les Mouriers is a memorial to the men and women who lived through the German Occupation . It was built to provide work for men who otherwise had nothing to do and opened up an area of the north coast which had previously been private property and seen by few islanders. It passes Ronez, where the cliffside is gradually being eaten away by a large quarry, established here by Jersey Granite Company in 1869, but probably the site of a quarry as long ago as 1651.

Lavoir des Dames, the fairies’ bath, or Le Puits de la Chuette, as it should be known, is a mysterious rectangular hollow in the rock at half-tide level between Ronez and Sorel. It has been suggested that it is man-made, but it is now recognised as more likely to be a natural phenomenon, although how such a regular shape could have been created is still open to considerable speculation.

The steep descend to Devil's Hole

Devil's Hole

Creux de Vis has become known as Devil’s Hole, possibly through bad pronunciation of the original French name, which translates as ‘the screw-hole’. Following a shipwreck in 1851 a ship’s figurehead was washed up at Devil’s Hole and this was adapted and carved by Jean Giffard to create the statue of the devil which was subsequently set up above the hole.

Jersey's north coast cliffs at Devil's Hole
This wooden statue was replaced by a succession of modern versions in the 20th century, with the most recent being relocated in a pond near the Priory Inn. Other names for the site include Le Creux de la Touraille, Le Trou au Diable and Le Creux Terrible.

Col de la Rocque

Our route now takes us to Col de la Rocque headland, a promontary owned by the National Trust for Jersey which offers one of the finest viewpoints anywhere on the north coast and a superb position for bird watching enthusiasts. This is where to view peregrine falcons which are regularly scene hunting along the coast. The view to the east takes in Devil’s Hole and Sorel Point and ahead of us in the distance we can see Plemont.

But next we pass Crabbé Bay and the Ile Agois. This is a small islet, separated from the coast by a narrow gorge some 80 metres deep. The island is of archaeological interest as on its top 14 ancient hut circles can be traced. Findings of Neolithic pottery and flint arrowheads show that Ile Agois was inhabited about the 9th century BC and seven coins of Charles the Bald who died in 877AD have been found, which indicate that it was probably inhabited again about 1800 years later..

Greve de Lecq

A print of Greve de Lecq in 1840
We are now approaching Greve de Lecq. On the eastern side of the bay, which straddles the border of St Mary and St Ouen, is Castel de Lecq, a large mound with entrenchments which may date from the Late Iron Age. Nearby Catel Fort is an 18th century guardhouse, built when a French invasion was feared at Greve de Lecq.

Down in the bay are Greve de Lecq Barracks, construction of which began in 1810 when another invasion was feared during the Napoleonic wars. They are the only surviving barracks in the island, having been in use until the 1920s, housing 250 garrison troops.

Inside one of Plemont's caves


We are now in St Ouen, and head along a long stretch of rugged coastline to Plémont, a peninsula on which stands a holiday camp which grew there during the second half of the 20th century and is now disused, awaiting a final decision on whether housing should be built there or the land should be returned to its natural state for community use.

Plémont bay is more properly known as ‘’Grêve au Lancons’’ (bay of sand eels). It has some of the island’s most spectacular caves. There are larger caves along this stretch of coastline, including those which can only be entered by swimmers or canoeists, but Plémont’s are the most accessible.

At the western end of the bay is Cotte à la Chêvre (Goat’s Cave) where Neolithic man lived in about 100,000BC and left flints which are among the oldest relics of human occupation found anywhere in the island.

A print of Grosnez Castle in 1809 by J Stead

Grosnez Castle

Grosnez Castle, on the north-west corner of the island, is a considerable mystery. Nobody knows when it was built, nor when it was largely destroyed. It seems to have been built as a refuge for islanders from invaders who had already taken possession of the rest of the island. But lacking its own water supply it could not have been expected to withstand a seige of any length.

All that remains today are the spectacular entrance arch and ruined walls and a moat.

Le Pinacle, which is close by, is a rock about 60 metres high around which there is evidence of five different civilisations having occupied it, from Neolithic times through the copper, bronze and iron ages and up to about AD200.

St Ouen's Pond, or La Mare au Seigneur
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