West-coast jolly in a bay of plenty

NO question about it; St Ouen’s Bay, with its big skies, wide-open spaces, and proud role as a major part of the Jersey National Park, never fails to deliver as one of my top recreational hot-spots.

As a long-time devotee of walking with nature, it’s here that I’m forever spoiled for choice. In other words, this particular circular meander around St Ouen and St Peter has enjoyment writ large all over it.

We set off from the little car park alongside the small pond and grasslands opposite Kempt Tower in the parish of St Ouen. The tower was once the Les Mielles visitor centre, but now finds itself up for happy grabs as a short-term holiday let. For me, as a one-time volunteer at the centre, it’s always a happy memories starting point.

With your back to Kempt Tower, cross the grasslands heading towards the narrow road of Chemin du Moulin. (It doesn’t really matter which paths you take – just keep the tower approximately behind you.) It’s worth bearing in mind that less than a half-century ago, this area of scrub and grassland was the Island’s principal rubbish tip.

Exiting at the narrow roadway, we are now on tarmac and heading south along Rue de Val de la Mare. With the relatively high escarpment on our left and agricultural fields to the right, it’s easy to understand the meaning of Jersey’s real wild west.

While the earliest of Jersey Royals dominate the fields in early spring, conservation crops offer vital supplementary food for birds during the winter. This stretch of narrow roadway also affords quality views to the sea, and particularly towards the open-water, reed-beds and (hidden) wetland centre at La Mare au Seigneur (St Ouen’s Pond). Here, it’s eyes-up time for the marsh harriers!

On reaching what once was the Sunset Nurseries, a turn to the right takes us along Route de la Marette in the parish of St Peter. This tight little road meanders alongside Les Mielles golf course, and there are plenty of ‘birdies’ here and, if you’re lucky, green lizards basking in the sunshine.

We are now on the main Grande Route des Mielles, with a choice of returning to Kempt Tower either on the beach or along the promenade, which will take you past the National Trust for Jersey property La Caumine à Mary Best (the White House).

And don’t forget the all-weather Wetland Centre – worth a pop-in at any time.

Believe me, fresh air doesn’t come fresher or cleaner than on this west-coast circular jolly. Simply enjoy!

Information

DISTANCE: 2.5 miles

TIME: Allow two hours

DIFFICULTY: Flat and easy. Wide choice of refreshment venues along the bay

FEATURE: Buggy-friendly

TOILETS: At Le Braye and Les Laveurs

Meet your Guide - Mike Stentiford

What is your area of expertise?
Nature, wildlife and all that’s so incredibly positive about Jersey’s amazing environment.

Your favourite view?
The coastal views from Le Mourier Valley – simply breathtaking.

Favourite beach?
It has to be Plémont – unbeatable for its dramatic beauty.

Where do you go to relax?
Any of Jersey’s winding country lanes which are narrow, tree-lined and car-free.

Your favourite fascinating fact?
The truly amazing softness of tree mallow (Lavatera arborea). Andrex, eat your heart out!

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