Guernsey is a Famous Five sort of place: an Enid Blyton idyll where summer days are long, manners are good, there are gentle adventures to be had and home made scones with lashings of local cream for tea.

Well, that's how it struck us on a weekend trip to the Channel Island, along with its near neighbour Sark.

Admittedly the youngsters we saw spending time together on the quay near the yacht club (a very upmarket version of hanging around on street corners) were practising parkour rather than tracking down suspicious looking coves and bounders up to no good but, as a bobby on the beat (when did you last see one of those?) explained, there's not much crime on the island.

In fact we were guilty of the only misdemeanor witnessed on the trip when we drove the wrong way round Waitrose car park. Eyebrows were raised and the tut-tuts from the horrified locals were audible (well, we did have the roof down).

So like a U certificate Thelma and Louise, we sped (carefully observing the speed limit) off to see what else the island had to offer.

First stop was the wonderful Victorian Walled Garden at Saumarez Park, where we also enjoyed a bamboo walk, a Japanese garden, a camelia lawn and rose garden, although we passed on the National Trust of Guernsey's Folk & Costume Museum. Nothing is too far away on Guernsey – the island in the English Channel near the French coast, a self-governing British Crown dependency, is just 12 miles long with an area of 24.3 sq miles – but we had a lot we wanted to see and do on our three day visit, including a trip to neighbouring and even smaller island Sark.

The highlights were:


Decorated with mosaics of pebbles, shells and broken china, The Little Chapel is a work of art built by Brother Déodat, who started work in March 1914 with the aim of creating a miniature version of the grotto and basilica at Lourdes in France. It's free to enter.


Here we went on a fascinating walk through wild subtropical gardens which incorporates about 200 sculptures – most for sale – from a dozen countries around the world. Tours of the manor, the Islands only stately home, are also available from April to October.


A sobering and moving visit was to the museum set in a complex of tunnels that were built by German forces as a fuel storage facility for their U-Boats. It covers Guernsey's military history, including World War One and the German Occupation of the island from 1940 to 1945 during World War Two.


These historic and lovely gardens in St Peter Port, the island's capital, house a statue of Victor Hugo, who lived in Guernsey in exile for 15 years and wrote Les Miserables there.


If we thought Guernsey, where they still use pound notes, was a step back in time then Sark took it several steps further. It's a unique place, about an hour by boat from Guernsey, where cars are banned and you travel by foot, bicycle, tractor or horse-driven carriage. It's no hardship, the isle is just three miles in length and 1½ mile in breadth. There was only a change from a feudal system in 2008 and we were lucky enough to have the island's fascinating history and politics explained to us by the current Seigneur (an hereditary title) Christopher Beaumont, who leads tours of La Seigneurie, the family home (see for details).

From there we cycled across La Coupee, an isthmus joining Great Sark and Little Sark, for an amazing lunch at La Sablonnerie Hotel ( Not only were the surroundings beautiful, the welcome from the charming owner Elizabeth Perree warm and enthusiastic but the food was outstanding: fresh seafood prepared with skill and presented with artistry. We hadn't expected to find such a high standard on such a tiny island. It was so good we lingered for a second bottle of bubbly: my friend fell off her bike on the way back and cracked a rib and still declared it was definitely worth it.

For tourist information see and


With an early morning ferry and the journey from Oxford to Poole taking a good two-and-a-half hours or more we opted to stay over at the Thistle hotel in Poole.

Right on the waterfront and a five-minute drive from the departure point, it was handily near shops, pubs and places to eat, and its own restaurant served a good variety of well-prepared dishes.

Thistle Poole

A: Thistle Poole, The Quay Poole BH15 1HD

T: 0800 330 8595


From £55.


Condor Ferries operates a year-round service to the Channel Islands from Poole with the fast ferry Condor Liberation, alongside a conventional ferry service from Portsmouth.

Comfortable seating, food, drink and duty free shopping are available and sailing along the English coastline made for an interesting journey.

To book and check current fares, visit or call 0345 609 1024.


We stayed at the islands only five star hotel – the luxurious Old Government House, part of the Red Carnation group.

Dating back to 1796, the OGH, as it is generally known on the island, was originally the official Governor’s residence but has operated as a hotel since 1858. Tucked away in a central position, it boasts an outdoor pool with delightful terraces overlooking the town and harbour. As with the rest of the island it has an old world charm... along with all mod cons.

The Old Government House Hotel & Spa

A: St Ann's Place, St Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 2NU

T: 01481 724921