IF, like me, you are interested in the Occupation period and appreciate Jersey’s natural beauty, then a walk around Noirmont, with its high cliffs and gorse-scented landscape sprinkled with German fortifications, is a perfect combination.
Start by taking the footpath from the top corner of the public car park near the Old Portelet Inn (the one with the bus stop). You will be treated to stunning views of Portelet Bay and Janvrin’s Tomb on the right – and, ahead, the Ile Percée pinnacle.
You will also encounter the first of the gun emplacements and shelters of Batterie Lothringen, one of the best-preserved Second World War battery sites in Western Europe.
The path will then bring you to the spine road (Chemin de Noirmont), on the other side of which is an emplacement displaying one of the battery’s original 15 cm guns. This is worth a slight detour and you can also investigate the ammunition and personnel shelters, plus a Flak emplacement, all of which carry helpful interpretation plaques as part of the Lothringen ‘fortification trail’ created by the Channel Islands Occupation Society.
Follow the spine road to the car park at the southern tip of the headland, where a few minutes can be spent exploring, and taking in the views.
On a grassy mound on the north side of the car park is the Island’s main war memorial, and, nearby, the headland’s most prominent gun emplacement.
The adjacent ammunition storage complex approached by a long ramp is also worth seeing. The views from here take in the sweep of St Aubin’s Bay, with St Helier, Elizabeth Castle, and Les Marais in the distance.
Take the footpath at the far corner of the car park, by the emplacement, and continue in a northerly direction. You will pass a memorial to the 16 members of US Navy PT Squadron 34, who were killed off Noirmont Point in August 1944. On this eastern side, the headland takes on a different character, as the cliffs are largely hidden by trees. After skirting an open area of gorse and bracken, the path enters dense woodland behind the grounds of Noirmont Manor. Here, birdsong can be heard, pine needles soften the footfall, and you will catch the occasional glimpse of St Aubin’s Fort through the foliage.
(Keep following the main pathway, which runs alongside green fencing.)
The walk ends at the top of Chemin de Belcroute, from where you can head back to your car by taking the gravelled side walk along Route de Noirmont.
Distance: 1.5–2 miles
Duration: 40 minutes (without detours)
Terrain: Easy walking but uneven ground. Unsuitable for wheelchairs or buggies
Facilities: Toilets and refreshments at the Old Portelet Inn
Matthew Costard, vice-president of the Channel Islands Occupation Society (Jersey)
For further details of opening times for the Noirmont command bunker and tower, go to ciosjersey.org.uk
What’s your speciality?
Favourite view in Jersey?
St Ouen’s Bay – either from the top of Mont de la Pulente or Mont du Valet (L’Etacq).
St Ouen’s Bay.
Where do you go to relax?
I enjoy walking through the country lanes or along the cliff paths.
Favourite fascinating fact?
During the Second World War, the Channel Islands were one of the most heavily fortified areas in Europe. Various sources state that at least 12% of the steel and concrete that was used to construct the Atlantic Wall – the massive coastal defensive line that stretched 2,000 miles from the North Cape of Norway down to the Spanish border – went into the islands.