Jersey, Channel Islands
From Jersey black butter to lavender shortbread, this island is teeming with taste sensations
Autumn brings out the best in Jersey: red squirrels scuffle in the leaves for seeds; the honesty boxes that line the hedgerows overspill with pumpkins; herds of Jersey cows graze the hillsides; and the seafood is as fresh as ever. But the best thing about autumn on Jersey is Tennerfest, in which more than 100 restaurants offer set menus starting at just £10. So leave any assumptions about the Channel Islands at home: you won’t find super-chic seafood restaurants in this 24-hour guide. With an abundance of leafy green lanes, rustic granite pubs and simple beach cafés, Jersey can be affordable, rural and wild: you just need to know where to look.
10am A taste of St Helier
St Helier is a great place to scout for picnic ingredients. Wander through Beresford Street fish market, where piles of crab claws, baby squid and hand-dived scallops sell for unbelievably low prices (live oysters are only 27p each). If it’s a little early in the day for molluscs, Relish deli should be able to supply most of your picnic goodies.
In the Victorian Central Market, you can sample local delicacies: Jersey wonders, small cakes traditionally cooked by housewives as the tide went out (if you cooked them on an incoming tide, the fat would overflow the pan, of course); cabbage loaf, bread baked in cabbage leaves; and bean crock, a traditional stew cooked with beans and pigs’ trotters.
One of the most intriguing local delights is Jersey Black Butter, a by-product of cider making. After the winter crop, workers would boil the cider over a fire for two days with sugar, lemon, spices and liquorice. Tasting treacly and mulled, it’s lovely with cold meats for lunch.
11.30am The ultimate Jersey cream tea
Jump in the car and head to the Gardens of Samares Manor, where you can join in a tour explaining how to cultivate and cook with herbs. The café specialises in local produce flavoured with freshly cut herbs and you can pick up seedlings on the way out.
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Driving north-east on the coast road, look out over an expanse of shingle, sand and rockpools, where oysters are harvested. The Channel Islands have a huge tidal range – up to 13m (42ft) on a spring tide – and when the tide is out, the island doubles in size. At the end of the bay, Mont Orgueil Castle looms over pastel houses in Gorey – the perfect place to indulge in a Jersey cream tea.
1pm Bouley Bay and the north coast
Until July, many fields in the north will be lined with Jersey royal potatoes – their unique taste comes from the seaweed used as fertiliser, a practice that dates back to the 12th century.
The landscape on the northern coast is wild and rugged, with steep bracken-clad hills falling down into idyllic blue coves. Head to Bouley Bay, and stride out along the gorse-lined coast path. The silver line on the western horizon is the sandy coast of Normandy. In front of the Water’s Edge Hotel, at the bottom of Bouley Bay Hill, Mad Mary will be manning her beach café van and dishing out fresh crab sandwiches and steaming cups of island-ground coffee.
3pm The wild west coast
Perhaps the best kept secret on the west coast is Faulkner Fisheries, a converted Second World War German bunker at the northern tip of St Ouen’s Bay. Inside, you’ll find tide-filled tanks crawling with navy blue lobsters and brown crabs, while winkles make a stealthy getaway over the walls. It’s a working seafood fishery, but if it’s quiet and you ask nicely, it can be your own edible aquarium, and you can choose your dinner. If it’s fine, you can sit outside on picnic benches tucking into freshly barbecued lobster, gazing out over the golden sands of St Ouen’s Bay. (Open Monday to Saturday all year and Sundays in summer.)
4pm Lavender shortbread
At Jersey Lavender Farm, you can walk through 80 varieties of lavender, peak into the bottling lab or pop into the Sprigs Café to try lavender scones and shortbread.
6pm Sun set at La Corbiere
End your day with a walk at La Corbiere lighthouse, known for its sublime sunsets. Check tide times before walking along the causeway. If the tide’s in, Corbiere Phare restaurant serves hearty fare, with views over changing skies.
HOW TO GET THERE
Sail to St Helier in Jersey from Poole, Dorset, in 4hrs 30 mins for £99 per car (with two passengers).
0845 609 1024
FIND OUT MORE
Manor Farm, La Route du Manoir, St Peter JE3 7DD
Stock up on Jersey dairy products from the farm’s 60-strong herd.
The Radio Tower
This observation tower was built during the Second World War and is set on
the cliff tops above La Corbiere lighthouse.
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