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I know the Island of Sark very well as my grandparents lived there when I was little and we have a bench there to commenrate their memory. Sark is only reachable by boat with the majority coming from Guernsey however one now and again from Jersey. On reaching Sark you reach the new harbour which is the main harbour now for all the boat traffic. However when walking through the tunnel there is another harbour which is nicknamed the Old Harbour. Whilst waiting of the bottom of Harbour hill which is so steep you can choose to walk up or there is a bus service this consists of Tractors and a pulllong trailer with seats and the locals nickname it the toast rack. On reaching the top of the harbour hill you can hire a bike or take the horse and carriage to explore the island. There is a few shops and certainly no branded name shops all indivdual shops consisting of cafes, jewellery shop etc. A must to visit is Lorraines Pottery she is a local girl and has won many prizes for her pottery. Whilst travelling around Sark you will find many beaches although a slight track to get to them some of the best beaches are Derrible, dixcart and Grand Greve. There is evidence of the germans from the second world war which the prisoners of war built the coupe which takes you over to Little Sark. In Little Sark there is the fab Hotel La Sablonarie and a cream tea is a must. If you can find it Little Venus pool is nearby which is naturel pool which is goes down very deep but you can swim in it but beware it is very cold. If you get chance head over to the Pilchard Monument where the views over towards Guernsey and Sark are stunning. You will either love Sark or hate it as there is no cars here at all and the roads are quite rough. However it is very safe espicially for children and plenty of places to explore
We wanted to experience the stress free style of living on Sark and arrived at around 10.45am. Opting for an exploration on foot, which is easily achievable in the few hours you have on the Island, our only disappointment was to discover that the shops, as few as they are, close for an hour at lunchtime. With the ferry due to leave after 3.00pm the 'visitors' are on the Island for some five hours maximum and the place comes to a standstill. Stress free, yes. Civilised, I'm not sure. Perhaps the happy Islanders do not need the income from tourism. However, undeterred, I have since tried to buy an item on line only for the web site not to be recognised. The telephone is not answered no matter what time of day any night you call and yet only three weeks ago, whilst there, the shop existed. They say that Sark can be stress free and a place where time has stood still but do they have to take it so literally?
The Isle of Sark is quiet, relaxed, beautiful and unspoilt. Three and a half miles long with a population of around six hundred people, it has no chain stores, no cars and no streetlamps. Consequently it can be quite tricky to find your way home in the dark, but stumbling along the uneven paths with a torch beneath a sky full of stars only adds to the charm! The island has a number of sandy and stony beaches and the height of the cliffs makes for some breathtaking views. Travel in the springtime to experience absolute peace and quiet and go for walks in woods full of bluebells, or in the summer to experience a more bustling Sark, warmer weather and of course the Water Carnival and Sheep Races! Places to visit include La Coupee, which is a very high and narrow strip of land connecting Big Sark and Little Sark with fantastic views over the sandy beach at La Grande Greve. Despite being only six feet wide in places, this used to have no railings at all until German prisoners of war made it safe after the Occupation in the Second World War. Now it is safe with spectacular views. On a clear day you can see the nearby privately owned island of Brechou as well as Herm, Jethou and Guernsey to one side and Jersey to the other. The Seigneurie Gardens are well worth a visit, especially in June, and the boat trip around the island is an exhilarating and educational experience not to be missed! Finally, no visit would be complete without a trip around the island in a horse and cart, complete with anecdotes about the island and breaks to admire the fantastic views. Culinary experiences include the unmissable Sark Ice Cream - I highly recommend all and any of the numerous flavours, and Butterscotch in particular! Having spent three months working at the Dixcart Hotel I couldn't recommend it strongly enough for a warm and friendly atmosphere, excellent food and service and beautifully kept rooms and grounds. The wood fire burning in the lou
nge is delightful on colder evenings and the bar is an island hotspot, especially on Sundays when the other pubs on the island are closed. Sark has no airport so the best way to travel there is to fly from Gatwick to Guernsey (prices vary according to season) and then take a ferry from Guernsey to Sark for approximately £20 return. Relax, live at a quieter pace for a week and be prepared to say hello to every single person you see while you're there!
I had a day trip to Sark this year; I was led to believe that this island is a quiet backwater in the vast hubbub of life, with the only transport by horse drawn carriages or by bicycle. On arrival at Sark harbour from Jersey using a fast catamaran boat service I found that this was nearly but not quite true. There was a tractor pulled train waiting to transport the passengers up a long steep hill to the main village in Sark, and while there is no motorcars or buses, there seemed to be a lot of tractors. (So much for no cars!). The Island. Sark itself is only about 1 ½ miles long and 1 mile wide with a small island (Little Sark) joined on at one end by a causeway, with a population of about 500. The direction signs do not give distances in miles or metres but in minutes, the length of time it should take you to walk to a particular place on the island. There are a number of shops, gift shops and restaurants, and four hotels (one of them on Little Sark) and a post office. On an island of only 500 inhabitants there is also an Internet café, so that anyone can keep up with their e-mails (or even write reviews for Ciao and DooYoo) The governor (? owner) of Sark is the Seigneur who has his own castle called “La Seigneurie”. There is also a prison, and a School for children up to the age of 14, older children may have to go to boarding school either in Guernsey or England. However don't get ill, there is no NHS on the island, hospital treatment requires transfer to Geurnsay and costs around £350 per day just for the stay only, treatment is extra. all residents (including temporary) require medical insurance. To offset this there is no income tax. On arrival I went on a pre-booked tour of the island by horse-drawn cart. 9 people on 1 cart pulled by one horse seems to be a bit excessive for the horse to pull, although it did not seem distressed in any way even though it was a hot sunny day. This tour lasted about 90 mi
nutes with a break of 10 minutes at a bay overlooking the lighthouse, and another break of 30 minutes at La Seigneurie so that those who wished could take a tour of the gardens. After the tour we dined in the Internet Café where a meal of fish and chips and drinks set us back around £7.00. We then walked to Little Sark which took around 50 minutes and crossed by the causeway, a plaque by the side of the Causeway stated that it had been rebuilt (and protective railings put up) by German prisoners of war in 1945-1946. The Cost. Trip by catamaran £24.90 Trip by cart £4.90 Pick up (and return) from hotel in Jersey £3.90 Total £33.70 each (£67.40 for two) So its not a cheap trip, but worth it as a one off special.
Sark is one of the smaller Channel Islands at just three and a half miles long and one and a half miles wide. Accessible only by sea, this little island offers a peaceful and beautiful place to spend a holiday (actually I'd like to live there but a holiday will do for starters) So what makes Sark unique? Firstly, it has no cars - transport is by horse, bicycle, tractor or public transport (horse and carriage!). As there are no cars, there are also no roads, just a series of dirt tracks and numerous short cuts across the fields - the short cuts are regularly used because there are no fences (not even to keep cattle in) and the people are so friendly that nobody ever minds if you pop across their property. Talking of property ownership, Sark is based upon a feudal system whereby the island is leased from the Crown by the Siegneur, Michael Beaumont (the 'King' of Sark) and is divided into forty portions, one of which is the Seigneurie (King's palace). The other portions are held by the 'men of Sark' who have a duty to bear arms in defence of the island and numerous other duties. That doesn't mean that only forty household live on Sark as each portion has various houses and shops built on it which the landownder can sell or lease in the usual way. Sark's administration is headed by the Seigneur and there are two official posts - constable and assistance constable. Each man of Sark has to hold the post of constable once in his lifetime. A new holder is chosen every year and takes the post of assistance constable to see what is required for the main post. After a year, the constable steps down, the assistant becomes constable and a new assistant is appointed. There is not a great deal of work for the constable as the island is virtually free of crime (except in the tourist season). If a major crime is committed, the constable has the power to close the island to prevent anyone leaving or arriving (in
cluding tourists) until the situation is resolved. The last time this happened was in the 1980s when the jewellery shop was burgled - after a few days the jewellery was returned and the island re-opened. There is a prison which can hold two people. Those convicted of serious crimes are usually transferred to Guernsay as the facilities in Sark prison are rather basic. Sark can make and adminster its own laws to a certain degree but is largely dependent upon Guernsay. Nevertheless, it sounds a pretty good place to be in prison as you don't actually have to stay there - you can go about your normal everyday business provided you wear a shirt with "PRISONER" on the back - possibly an early version of Labour's 'naming and shaming' proposals! You do have to watch out for the laws though as you can still be hanged for stealing cattle. As there are few fences, the situation can be somewhat fraught. I remember staggering back from one of the island's four pubs muttering 'sod off - you'll get me into trouble' to an inquisitive cow who had decided to follow the strange people wandering across its field in the middle of the night. Moving to pubs, well, there aren't many but the island is pretty small and you never seem to lack a place to take a drink. They have a stange rule that you can only buy alcohol on Sunday if you have also bought a meal worth more than £1. So a couple of the hotel's specialise in £1.01 sandwiches and soups to get around this. The main selling point of Sark's pubs is how incredibly cheap the alcohol is. It was still less than £1 a pint last time I went. The same is true of cigarettes, perfume, electrical goods and jewellery. In fact, the only thing which actually was expensive was milk and other dairy products. You need to be a bit wary of the local milk as it is not routinely pasteurised and can have some very stange looking lumps in it. I refused to d
rink any the whole time I was there (three months) and once resorted to opening hundreds of little tubs of 'non milk disgusting stuff' just so I could have a bowl of cornflakes. Sark milk is supposed to taste lovely but it looked extremely off-putting. There are not many shops and the whole place has managed to remain 'little village-esque' despite the massive influx of tourists every year. One shop specialises in jewellery made from local gemstones, especially amythests which can be found on the beaches - I spent hours looking but never found any(Dixcart Bay is supposed to be the best place to look). Another essential purchase is the handmade Caragh chocolates which put Thornton's in the shade and are a fraction of the price. Places to visit include La Coupee which joins Sark to Little Sark. The 300 foot precipice overlooking Convanche Bay was built by German prisoners of war after the island was liberated by the Chelsea pensioners (who have the freedom of Sark and visit every year). Once on Little Sark, you can visit The Pot which is the remains of the copper and silver mines. Gouliet caves are also worth a visit as some of the caves are massive and extremely beautiful and several are covered the anemonies. The network of caves is massive though so don't wander off - seriously, people have disappeared in there. The horse and carriage tours of the island are a great way to see the sights and if you get one of the older drivers they will be more than pleased to recount the history of the islands and to point out the places of interest. Getting to Sark is remarkably easy. You can fly to Guernsay from Southampton for about £55 pounds (takes about half and hour) and then take the boat to Sark for about £20 return. Despite its reputation for being an expensive place to stay, this is simply not true as B&B averages at £18 per person per night. The hotels are more expensive but not excessively so espe
cially at the end of the season. I recommend the Dixcart (but I'm biased as that was where I worked) or La Sorbonnerie. I worked on Sark for three months as a vac job and loved every minute of it. The locals are extremely friendly and love to get to know new people and there is always a range of activities going on to go to - concerts, dances, quizes, local history lectures - none of it vastly exciting but you do get used to the gentle pace of life. If you need to escape to somewhere a bit more lively, Guernsay is only a half hour boat trip away and the locals will usually let you hitch a ride if they're going which is cheaper than the official boat. (don't be alarmed if someone offers to take you to 'the mainland' in an extremely small boat - they only mean Guernsay, not England) So, in summary, Sark is a great holiday destination - its a little old-fashioned community with some great beaches, cheap prices and wonderful scenary. Alternatively, its a great place to work for three months if you fancy something different with the added bonus that there is no income tax!
If you get sea-sick, Sark is not the place for you as this island has no airport, so your only way of reaching it is by sea. Cars are not allowed in Sark and the only motorised form of transport is tractors, which often have trailers on for transporting people up the long, steep hill from the harbour. Alternatives are pony and trap (don't worry, they come with drivers) or shanks' pony. You can also hire bikes once you get to town. Because there are no cars, there are no tarmacked roads, only tracks, which adds to the feel of a land out of time. However, they have electricity, banks and all modern appliances, including the internet, so they're not completely backward! Take a pony and trap tour around the island to see over the hedges, or hire a bike to get around. Whilst the island isn't huge, it certainly has enough to entertain for several days. Take a trip to Little Sark - it's attached to the main island by a narrow causeway, but this is large enough to take a pony and trap, it's not one of those rope bridges from the jungle! Sark is the ideal place to relax away from the stresses of modern life, but not so cut off that you go mad!