Visit The Island of Sark: Places to stay, things to do

Rosie Daniel takes a look at Sark, a haven for birdwatchers, botanists and walkers alike

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The holiday that I spent on Sark with its warm microclimate and spectacular views was by far the most restful and content of any other. It is an island of tranquillity and with motorised vehicles forbidden, stepping onto this tiny isle is truly like stepping back in time. Inhabitants make do on foot, with bicycles and horse-drawn carriage, leading to a cleaner, quieter way of life.

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Sark is actually made up of two islands, Big and Little Sark, joining the two together is a precarious strip of land called La Coupée. The locals will inform you that before 1900 when railings were erected, children from Little Sark had to crawl on their hands and knees to avoid being blown over the edge. 

The main street is called The Avenue, it consists of a quaint earthen road with just enough shops to keep the villagers and tourists adequately supplied. One such store is Caragh chocolate’s, they make fantastic presents and taste incredible.

This Island is a rambler’s paradise, tracks criss-cross over fields and through wild leafy woods, leading you down to the sea or high up onto weather-beaten cliff-tops. Evening strolls take you down to secluded coves where you can relax as boats bob in the water and and the sun slowly sets. 

There are plenty of beaches to explore, most are quite challenging to reach but you will not regret the extra effort. Dixcart bay with its striking natural archway is a favourite with bathers on hot summer days. For a real treat head to the Venus pool on Little Sark, its a magical place to take a dip but can only be accessed at low tide. 

With less pollution than the mainland and crystal clear waters Sark is a refuge for wildlife, take a boat trip and spot dolphins, seals and cliff nesting birds. If plants are your thing then head down to the Seigneurie Gardens and enjoy the impressive array of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

There are only two pubs on the Island, The Bel Air and The Mermaid Inn. Both are lively at the weekends giving visitors the opportunity to experience the affability of Sark’s inhabitants. A word to the wise , the walk home from the pub along darkened lanes is not as simple to negotiate when you’re a little worse for wear, I suggest carrying a torch if you plan to make it home in one piece.

Where to eat

Sark, despite being small has a respectable selection of restaurants and cafes. Residents try to be as independant from the mainland as possible so often use produce from their own private gardens. As you would expect, crab, lobster and Sark lamb feature highly in many menus. For fine dining try Hathaways or La Sablonnerie.

Where to stay

La Sablonnerie Hotel received the coveted ‘small hotel of the year’ prize. For a truly romantic break there’s nowhere better. You are met at the harbour by the hotels very own horse and carriage that carries you to this stunning charm-laden hideaway. The hotel has twenty rooms, each with its own unique style. When your not exploring the island you can soak up the sun in the extensive flower garden or curl up in the cosy rustic lounges.

Did you know

Up until 2008 Sark maintained a feudal system rather than a democracy that dated back to 1565. All this changed on the premise that Sark didn’t comply with the European Convention on Human Rights.

A local secret…

The Seigneur of Sark has first refusal over whatever washes up on the shore, and remains the only person entitled to keep doves on the island.  

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