I LOVE this walk, which has fantastic views, various terrains, and showcases the Island’s history and natural environment perfectly. Best at low tide for easier access to the steps from Ouaisné up to Portelet Common, the walk takes around two hours with the opportunity for a pint along the way.
From St Brelade’s Bay [park in any of the public car parks], walk towards Ouaisné and enjoy the sweep of the bay from La Cotte to the church and harbour. As you walk around or over the mound of Le Grouin Point, there are signs of Jersey’s more turbulent past, from 18th century round towers to German defences and anti-tank sea wall.
At the base of the cliffs at Ouaisné, pick out the green sign signalling the footpath up to Portelet Common. Scramble over the rocks to reach it, taking care as you go. On the way up you pass through an old quarry and the views from the top are worth it.
At the top, turn right and, whilst catching your breath, look back over spectacular views of St Brelade’s Bay. Follow the path around the headland, anti-clockwise, passing a National Trust for Jersey stone on your left and path to your right leading to a white cottage and 18th century gun battery. This area is inaccessible at the moment, while the area is secured, however, it would take you directly over La Cotte de St Brelade, one of Europe’s most significant Ice Age sites.
Walk along the path (with the granite wall on your right) and then go through the gate on your right which takes you into Portelet Common nature reserve. Take the right-hand path and walk anti-clockwise around the headland and back to the gate, taking in views of Portelet and Noirmont. The contrasts between stark concrete bunkers and tangles of Holm oaks, gorse and heather are striking, and this is a great spot for observing the Island’s sea birds.
From the gate take the path directly in front of you [ie not the way you came and not right into the woodland], which leads to a car park. Exit by the top right-hand corner and join the lane leading to Chemin du Portelet. Continue to a junction, then turn left onto Mont du Ouaisné. Walking down the hill, you pass picturesque granite houses and the Smuggler’s Inn at the bottom where you turn right onto the track running parallel to Ouaisné Common.
Continue to Les Ruisseaux pumping station then turn left onto the common, a Site of Special Interest and home to Jersey’s rare agile frog. Walk anti-clockwise turning right at the striped round tower, now used as a maritime navigation point. Continue walking back to St Brelade’s Bay over Le Grouin Point or along the beach, and then enjoy some well-deserved refreshments at one of the bay’s bars or cafés.
Length: 7.3 km / 4.5 miles
Duration: Approximately two hours
Parking: Paycard car parking in
St Brelade’s Bay (free in winter)
Public toilets: St Brelade’s Bay and Ouaisné car park
Refreshments: Smuggler’s Inn at Ouaisné and various cafés, restaurants and bars in St Brelade’s Bay
The walk includes a steep climb
Not suitable for buggies or wheelchairs
What’s your area of expertise?
I enjoy guiding visitors around the castles, and history is my primary interest, particularly women’s history and Jersey’s place in the wider historical context.
Favourite view in Jersey?
My first is the view in my walk, from the top of Portelet Common over St Brelade’s Bay – it’s my home turf and I love the colours of the sea and sand, and contrasts of old and new in the bay. My second is from the top of the sand dunes looking over St Ouen’s Bay; whether it’s sunny, raining or misty, this is a breathtaking view.
Not surprisingly, it’s St Brelade’s Bay.
Favourite fascinating fact?
Men were, and I believe still are, banned from knitting during August and September. Because the export of knitted items was such big business in the 16th and 17th centuries, crops were neglected and consequently left to rot in the fields. The authorities had to put a stop to this.