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Lighthouses of the Channel Islands

Lighthouses of the Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are an archipelago off the Normandy Coast. The islands comprise Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, and Herm. Nestled in the English Channel, these islands are not only known for their natural beauty but also for their maritime heritage.

Along the rugged coastlines and pristine shores are an array of lighthouses that have guided sailors for generations. Trinity House is responsible for the major lighthouses of the Channel Islands.

The islands are Crown dependencies, and the two largest are Jersey and Guernsey. Both have their own Bailiwick, or government. They offer a mix of natural beauty, historical sites, and a relaxed island lifestyle that attracts visitors from around the world.

The islands are sheltered by the Normandy coast, making the climate relatively mild. A powerful tide races between the islands through comparatively narrow channels. This makes a great range between high and low water.

Herm is the smallest of the inhabited Channel Islands and is known for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and peaceful ambience.

Please note that some of these lighthouses offer holiday accommodation or may be privately owned.  Please take care not to trespass or drive on private property.

If you’re travelling to the Channel Islands via boat, you might pass Casquets Lighthouse in the English Channel. Originally, there were three towers, but only one is now operational. The Casquets are a group of rocks midway between England and Brittany, and around six miles west of Alderney.

Casquets Lighthouse
Casquets Lighthouse
Photo: John Best

Alderney

Alderney is the third-largest island in the archipelago. It is known for its peaceful atmosphere and natural beauty. With a small population, it is a great destination for birdwatching and outdoor activities.

Three miles long and one and a half miles wide, Alderney is the northernmost of the inhabited Channel Islands.

The island is accessible by boat from Guernsey or by air from Guernsey or Jersey.

Many of the island’s inhabitants were driven away and much of their property destroyed during the occupation. However, by 1946, they had begun to resettle on the island.

The harbour at Alderney expanded in the mid-nineteenth century. An enormous breakwater was started in 1847 to provide a safe anchorage for the British fleet. It was never completed, and sections needed constant maintenance and repair. During the occupation of the island, the German forces built a new pier to unload their ships.

Alderney Quesnard

Located near Fort Quesnard, Alderney Lighthouse, sometimes referred to as Quesnard Lighthouse, is at the island’s northeastern end.

Guernsey

Guernsey is the second-largest island and has a rich cultural heritage. The island is known for its unique blend of British and French influences. Guernsey’s capital is St Peter Port, halfway along the eastern side of the island.

Guernsey Lighthouses

Castle Cornet is a fortification in the capital, St Peter Port, located at the end of the Castle Breakwater. The harbour is sheltered by St Julian’s pier on the northern end, which extends to White Rock, and the old harbour is further enclosed. A number of lighthouses can be found in the harbour.

Around 2 miles north is St Sampson. The western side of the island is flatter but with lots of rocks that are exposed to low water. Near the southwest corner are the most prominent rocks, on which Les Hanois Lighthouse is perched offshore.

Pleinmont Point is located at the southwestern tip of the island and Torteval. Close to Portelet Harbour is a row of white cottages. These were once the shore station housing the families of the Les Hanois Lighthouse Keepers. From the Pleinmont cliffs beyond, Les Hanois Lighthouse can be seen about a mile offshore. A model of Les Hanois Lighthouse can be found in the Fort Grey Maritime Museum.

At the northern end of Guernsey, from L’Ancresse, is the Platte Fougere Lighthouse, visible just over a mile offshore.

Beaucette Marina was once home to LV14 Lightvessel after her retirement. She is now located in Gloucester Docks, renamed Sula.

Les Hanois Lighthouse is just offshore, and the shore station that housed the families is also in the area.

Sark

Sark is one of the smaller islands and is famous for being a car-free destination. The island offers a tranquil and idyllic escape from the modern world. Horse-drawn carriages and bicycles are the primary modes of transportation on the island.

One way to view the island is by boat, where the likes of Victor Hugo’s Cave can be seen only by water.

Little Sark is in the southern part of the island, connected to Great Sark by a narrow road called La Coupee. Maseline Harbour is overlooked by the Sark Lighthouse. The harbour was started in 1938 and completed in 1946 following the Second World War. A tunnel through the rock leads to the road leading up to Val du Creux to the south.

Point Robert Sark Lighthouse

At the northern end of Sark is a landing stage called the Eperquerie. From Eperquerie, common blue granite was quarried for the construction of Sark Lighthouse. The lighthouse, built in 1912, is located at Point Robert and stands 213 feet above sea level.

Jersey

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, being around 11 miles long and 7 miles wide. Its capital, St Helier, is located on the southern side of the island. The island is home to the famous Jersey Zoo, founded by conservationist Gerald Durrell. The annual Battle of the Flowers is held on the Thursday before the August Bank Holiday.

At St Helier, the former lighthouse from St Catherine’s Breakwater guards the entrance to the Maritime Museum on the quay.

On the western side of St Helier is St Aubin’s Bay, the principal bay on the south coast. The harbour is located in a bay strewn with rocks, and the tidal range is high. It was partially extended by Sir John Coode (who also built Corbiere Lighthouse).

The Castle Breakwater Pier was built from Elizabeth Castle and protects the harbour from southwesterly winds.

Greve d’Azette Bay and St Clements Bay are located to the east of St Helier and are littered with black rocky islets.

Gorey is overlooked by Mont Orgueil Castle at the northern end of Grouville Bay. From here the cliffs rise more steeply as they head north.

St Catherine’s Bay sweeps from the Archirondel Tower to Verclut Point along the eastern coast. There is a large tidal range here, leaving a large section of sandy beach at low water. At Verclut Point, the northern breakwater is around half a mile long and was started in 1847 and completed in 1855.

At Ronez Point is a quarry which had blue diorite stone, which was cut at the foot of the cliff before being hoisted to sheds at the top of the cliff. Sorel Point is a popular spot because of the Fairies’ Bath, (or Lavoir de Dames). Sorel Point Lighthouse stands close by.

La Corbiere Lighthouse

On the south-west corner, La Corbiere is joined to the mainland by a tidal causeway that is cut off at high tide. La Corbiere is probably the most well-known lighthouse on Jersey, built in 1873.


Discover more lighthouses and places to visit in the Channel Islands.

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