Rich farmland with plenty of wildlife

THIS is the perfect walk to take towards the evening, when the light is softer and the views out to sea are especially beautiful.

The walk is just in St Clement, North of the Church, but often bordering Grouville. It traverses an area of rich farmland, presently managed by Jersey Royal Potato Marketing Company. The principal crop is potatoes, but at this time of year, many of the fields are sown in barley, fast maturing in the present perfect summer weather and destined to be harvested for use by dairy farmers as cattle feed.

The route, named the Harry Baudains Path after the late Harry Baudains who pioneered it, leads from La Ruelle Des Tours Westward and finishes in La Blinerie, near the Dolmen du Mont Ubé. There is a branch to the South, along the disused Rue Graut, which leads to the Inner Road, near Causie Lane. The path is marked, but not always very well, and there are places where it can be badly overgrown, partly because it is so little used.

The path begins just above the tight double bend in Ruelle des Tours, which leaves the Inner Road at the rear of Homefields, the Le Brun family owned farm shop. Here, there is a St Clement's Parish sign marking it.

It winds through the fields westwards. After a few hundred yards it deviates from the field and descends into a little tree lined valley, but soon rises again before rejoining some of the largest and most fertile, south facing fields anywhere in the Island. In medieval times this land was part of the Fief of St Clement, owned by the Monastery of Mont St Michel, in France. The path becomes obscure, but continues until it joins Rue Graut. It might be more accurate to say near Rue Graut, because the actual site of this road is completely overgrown and impassable. It also appears to lead nowhere but may formerly have led to a medieval farmstead. So the path continues parallel to the old road and later heads further West where it crosses Rue Laurens and passes a telecommunication mast. Here, there are some of the best views over the South of the Island. The path joins Rue du Pignon where you must turn right to join La Rue au Blancq. After turning left into Rue au Blancq, you will pass Belles Fleurs Nursery on your right and the grandiose entrance to a property called Les Silleries. Shortly after that, the path leaves the tarmac again along the southern fringe of a field belonging to St Clement's Church towards the Nicolle Tower, a Victorian folly, which you can see ahead. The Tower offers a superb viewpoint on a fine day to see France to the East, and the Chausey Islands and Les Minquiers to the South. Occasionally, on a clear day, you can even see the French coast beyond those reefs to the South.

In former days, these small fields, no doubt harvested by hand, were used for growing grain to feed the Island's population. On the site of the Tower, there was a windmill, belonging to the Seigneur of Samarès. Tenants were obliged to grind their corn at the Seigneur's mill. Today, no such obligation exists. However the Samarès Country Fair takes place on Bank Holiday Monday each year, when we hope (weather permitting) to use an antique threshing machine to process a crop of wheat and to use a milling machine to grind wheat into flour. Is this history repeating itself, I wonder?

The path continues toward the Dolmen at Mont Ubé and then down through the wood until its end, where it joins La Blinerie.

Why is this my favourite walk? It is an unspoilt and little visited area with an interesting history and huge potential for the present and future. It is rich farmland, but could easily be full of wildlife too. Wonderful birds of prey, such as Marsh Harriers, are already common here. However, small birds, mammals and insects need cover which could be more amply supplied. Invasive plants like Alexander have taken over. The hedges have still not fully recovered from the ravages of Dutch Elm disease in the 1970's, despite the agreement of landowners and efforts of Jersey Trees for Life and support from the States of Jersey Social Security Department and the Back to Work Scheme. There is so much potential both for commercial farming as well as to encourage wildlife. Wildlife and modern farming methods can co-exist, given the right approach. What progress can we make?

Finally, the views are simply the best – always different, never disappointing.


Distance: Around two miles

Time: About an hour and a half at a leisurely pace

Difficulty: An easy ramble through farm tracks, fields and some stretches of country lanes but the end is a steep incline down to La Blinerie.

Starting at Rue de Causie, head east for about 200 yards and turn into Ruelle des Tours. Continue walking up the lane until you see the sign for the beginning of the parish walk on the left, beyond the double bend.

Meet your Guide - Vincent Obbard

Vincent Obbard is the Seigneur of Samarès and owner of Samarès Manor.

He is passionate about the Island’s heritage, in particular its agricultural past and rural traditions. Vincent keeps many of these activities alive, including horse-drawn apple crushing and juice pressing as well as threshing and corn milling.

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