WHETHER you’re in wellies and waterproofs or shorts and T-shirt, there’s something new to discover every time you visit the woods below Hamptonne in St Lawrence.
Driving down Chemin des Moulins (Waterworks Valley) from Hamptonne, park in the first small parking area on the left (you’re in the right place if you can see the National Trust for Jersey sign Le Don Sinkins). Head to the left of the meadow, down the steps and over the little bridge.
On a sunny day, look out for dragonflies patrolling the stream and butterflies fluttering around the long grasses of the meadow.
The wall to your left along the roadside is rumoured to have been constructed by Islanders during the Occupation to make them look busy so that they were not given another job to do by the German soldiers.
As you bear right along the path and walk beneath the trees, see how many sycamores you can count. Their helicopter seeds travel well and grow extremely quickly. When you reach the steps on your right, go down towards the bridge. Read the names on the bridge – they are the volunteers who constructed it.
If there has been rain, the area to your left will be lovely and muddy – perfect for squelching in and making mud pies. To the right of the bridge you can go down to the stream to paddle.
When you’re finished playing, stomp over the bridge and continue along the path. Here you will climb over a step carved into a living tree. The low wall you will notice running along the side of this path is the remains of a leat, which carried water between mills at either end of the valley.
Along the way, look out for spiky butcher’s broom (which really was used as a broom by butchers for sweeping their floors), circular navelwort leaves (so-called because they look like belly-buttons) and a variety of trees such as chestnut, ash, oak and sycamore.
If you are quiet, you might be lucky enough to spot rabbits, red squirrels, buzzards, great tits and woodpeckers. The large box you see in the trees on your right is an owl box. Unfortunately, pigeons appear to have moved in first!
When you have descended the steps at the end of the path, you will be back at your car.
If you would like to extend your walk, cross the road to the picnic area just down the valley. Walk over a couple of bridges and follow the footpath through the woods alongside the gentle stream.
You pass a small reservoir on the left and an aqueduct before reaching the road. You can either walk back to your car on the road – there are often more cyclists than cars that pass you – or retrace your steps in the woods.
Distance: Less than one kilometre
Duration: About an hour at a slow pace
Fact: Not suitable for wheelchairs or buggies (though a manageable walk for children aged two and older)
Refreshments and toilets: Hamptonne Country Life Museum, nearby
Jo Stansfield, education officer, National Trust for Jersey (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
What’s your area of expertise?
Your favourite view in Jersey?
Anywhere looking out to sea!
At low tide, La Rocque for fun in the rock pools and low-water fishing. At high tide, Ouaisné for picnics and paddling.
Where do you go to relax?
My first choice is always the beach for the fresh air and freedom, but I also love a brisk walk in the woods or around Noirmont.
Your favourite fascinating fact?
Woodlice can drink through their bottoms!