It’s little wonder that you’ll find some of the finest walks in Jersey along the north coast. The scenery is wild, the terrain ruggedly beautiful with steep heather and bracken-clad cliffs that soar high above perfect little bays like Plémont, Grève de Lecq, Bonne Nuit, Bouley and Rozel. There’s an away-from-it-all feel to this peaceful stretch of coast, which contrasts sharply with the busier southern side of the island. And there’s more good news for walkers, for a coast path runs continuously between Grosnez in the north-west and Rozel in the north-east.
Plémont is the sandiest bay, accessible only by steps. At high tide access is restricted to surfers and boats. There is a lane that descends steeply into the bay; this narrow road links up to the access to the cliff path closer to the coast. The path offers superb views along from end to end.
At Grève de Lecq the old barracks have been carefully transformed by The National Trust for Jersey into the North Coast Information Centre and a small military museum. This stretch of coast east of the bay, rising steeply behind the Prince of Wales Hotel, is one of the most challenging in the island – but take heart, for with height comes spectacular views.
You’ll then skirt an area called Crabbé, where rifle and clay pigeon shooting takes place, so stick to the path and obey any warning signs. Further east there’s more National Trust land – Le Col de la Rocque – which leads down into Devil’s Hole. This dramatic natural feature, a north coast highlight, is a collapsed cave which has paved access down to sea level – a great place to watch the sea swells and wildlife.
Devil's Hole Statue - Following a shipwreck in 1851, when the ship's figurehead washed up in the Devil's Hole, a statue of a devil adapted from the figurehead was set up above the Hole. This wooden statue was replaced by a succession of modern versions in the 20th century.
Just east of Devil’s Hole is the stunning Mourier Valley, in which lies hidden a small reservoir stocked with trout. The stream from this ‘pond’ becomes a high waterfall on reaching the coast, plunging into a chasm before running into the sea over a beach of huge rounded boulders.
The path then ascends to Sorel Point, the most northerly tip of the island with glorious views over the dangerous Paternoster Reef to the Isle of Sark. To the east you’ll see the massive workings of Ronez Quarry and, further in the distance, the Normandy coast. If by now you’re in need of refreshment, take a short detour to Les Fontaines Tavern, a converted farmhouse on the main coast road.
Wolf’s Caves is the next landmark. Just before it you’ll be climbing up a steep set of steps past Les Salines, where salt was produced by the evaporation of the sea. A very steep path leads down to Wolf’s Cave – so-called by the over-imaginative Victorians to attract tourists – so great care should be taken, and please note that the caves are not accessible at high water.
Bonne Nuit Bay is another picture-postcard gem. It’s also the perfect spot for a break at the little café on the harbour’s edge overlooking the pier, a small fleet of fishing boats and leisure craft. Don’t miss the local crab sandwiches and homemade cakes.
Separating Bonne Nuit from Giffard Bay is a prominent headland crowned by the Napoleonic La Crête Fort, a National Trust property that can be rented for holiday accommodation – what a place to stay!
Between Giffard Bay and Rozel the coast skirts Les Platons, at 469ft/143m the highest point on the island, before reaching La Belle Hougue viewpoint. Then it’s down the steep path and steps leading to Les Rouaux and La Colonbine. The speed of the tide swirling around the edge of the cliff is so fast it seems like river rapids, especially on a big spring tide (another remarkable feature of the island is its huge tides, up to 40ft/12m – some of the highest in the world).
The footpath continues to Le Petit Port and the memorial to Captain Philip Ayton, who led a small group of commandos on a reconnaissance mission at Christmas 1943. They visited a farm at the top of the hill to gather information about German strength in the island before returning to their submarine when an accident happened.
Take the track up the hill through Egypt woods, and turn left to keep the sea on the left. You’re slightly away from the coast, but it’s a clear walk down into the cove of Bouley Bay, reached via steep steps with views into the valley. There’s a café and hotel – not forgetting The Black Dog pub, whose name recalls Bouley Bay’s smuggling past and legends of a giant dog with huge teeth and eyes like saucers ready to seize any strangers foolish enough to be passing on the night of the full moon.
The final stretch of path reveals more of Jersey’s rugged coastal beauty before ending at Rozel Bay. The Rozel Bay pub will tempt you (especially in winter when warmed by roaring log fires), as will the legendary Hungry Man Café on the harbour – the perfect full and final stop to this savagely beautiful stretch of coast.
The Long and Short of it
Walks for all abilities
About 15 miles of path connect Grosnez to Rozel. It’s one of Jersey’s most challenging routes – and also amongst the most satisfying. With its stunning coastal scenery, tiny sheltered harbours and charming refreshment stops, you’ll have a real sense of achievement and satisfaction when you’ve taken it all in.
But you don’t have to go the full distance all at once. The alternative is to chop it up and tackle different sections on different days. The public bus service provides a great way to do this. Buses depart from St Helier to points on or close to the north coast – so it’s easy to hop off and on, completing shortish sections as you wish. All you need is a map and a bus timetable.
Take bus number 8 to Plémont, walk five miles to Devil’s Hole and return to St Helier on a number 7 bus.
Watching the Wildlife
Bring your binoculars, for this rugged shoreline, with its crevices and rocky outcrops, is home to many sea-birds. Fulmars, cormorants, shags, herring gulls, black-headed gulls, black-backed gulls and oystercatchers can be spotted anytime of the year with the numbers swelling in spring as birds come ashore to nest.
Meadow pippets, kestrels and linnets are amongst other birds you’ll see frequently. In spring, you might catch a glimpse of a Dartford warbler flitting between gorse bushes. Le Col de la Rocque headland is a fantastic birdwatching spot – look out for peregrine falcons, regularly seen hunting along the north coast.
If you’re around Bouley Bay at dusk you may see pipistrelle bats hunting for insects over the wooded valley.
The sea is rich in marine life, with many species of fish, lobsters, crabs, sea urchins and starfish. You’ll need to go diving to see them (Bouley Bay is a good centre), though you may be lucky enough to catch sight of dolphins, grey seals and basking sharks from the cliff path.
Gréve de Lecq
Gréve de Lecq Barracks were built for garrison troops stationed in Jersey when the fear of Napoleonic invasion was at its height. The Island’s only surviving barracks, they are now in the care of The National Trust for Jersey and are open to the public May to September.
Le Moulin de Lecq, now a pub and restaurant, was one of Jersey’s ancient watermills – parts of the mill date from the 12th century. It has the largest waterwheel on the island, something that came in handy for the Germans when they requisitioned it in the war years to generate power for their searchlight batteries.
Set in the grounds of a handsome 18th-century Jersey granite farmhouse, La Mare Wine Estate produces award-winning wines and Jersey Apple Brandy as well as preserves and chocolates. There are ‘Genuine Jersey’ tours and tastings daily that include the vineyards, winery, distillery and chocolate factory, plus an attractive restaurant and estate shop.
Devil’s Hole is also known as Le Creux de Vis, ‘The Screw-Hole’. The French name ‘de Vis’ possibly became altered to ‘Devil’ by English-speaking visitors. Whatever the case, this spectacular natural feature is certainly an intimidating sight, especially on a stormy day when the waves crash into the gloomy sea cave. A ship’s figurehead, washed up here after a shipwreck in 1851, was adapted and carved into a statue of the devil and erected above the hole. This was replaced by a succession of modern versions in the 20th century, the most recent being relocated in a pond near the Priory Inn at the start of the path down to the hole.
St John’s Millennium Stone stands west of Sorel Point. It is one of 12 granite standing stones excavated locally and erected in each of Jersey’s 12 parishes in 2000.
Bonne Nuit Bay. Both ‘Bonne Nuit’ in French and ‘Bouonne Niet’ in Jèrriais (Jersey-French) mean ‘good night’, referring to the shelter sailors could rely on by overnighting in the harbour.
La Crête Fort is an early 19th-century fortification that was converted into a private retreat for the island’s Lieutenant Governor. Spectacularly located on an isolated headland between Bonne Nuit Harbour and Giffard Bay, it’s now a self-catering holiday let. Gréve de Lecq Barracks together with Fort Leicester and L’Étacquerel Battery (just west and east of Bouley Bay respectively) are also former military buildings available as self-catering from Jersey Heritage.
Famous author, naturalist and broadcaster Gerald Durrell founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust over 50 years ago with the mission to save endangered wild animals from extinction. Durrell’s park is the Trust’s international headquarters, playing a crucial role in this mission. Over 1,400 mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians live here in 32 acres/13 hectares of beautiful gardens and parkland.
St Martin is a quinessentially rural parish, with delightful woodland paths and sheltered bays. Rozel is one of Jersey’s most picturesque bays. With its cafés, restaurants, hotel and pub it’s the perfect lunchtime venue for hungry, thirsty walkers. The parish also has a pub at its heart, the Royal Hotel, St Martin in the village and is another popular place to get waylaid at lunchtime. Keep an eye out for Dolmen du Couperon near Havre de Scez beach and La Coupe, a small headland topped by a little tower.
Combine your walk near Bouley Bay with a visit to the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. It's a must see for all visitors to the Island.
Don't bother with the car. Do what lots of walkers do and use the bus to get to and from your north coast walk.
Download the following self-guided walks from or collect copies from Jersey Tourism’s Visitor Centre when you arrive:
Coastal Walk – Bouley Bay to Gorey
Coastal Walk – Le Grand Étacquerel to Devil’s Hole
St John Parish Walk
St Martin Parish Walk
St Mary Parish Walk
Trinity Parish Walk
Pub Walk – A High Hike
Pub Walk – North Coast Nosebag
Jersey Tourism sells publications with detailed circular and linear routes of varying lengths. The following guides contain walks between Grosnez and Rozel:
||Walks 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 30
||Walks 11, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 22, 24
||Walks 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28
||Walks 7, 8
|A Stroll Around the Stones
||Walk 5, 6, 7
National Trust for Jersey Walks
The Trust has downloadable walks covering La Vallette (near Bonne Nuit) and Le Col de la Rocque, taking in the area from Gréve de Lecq to Devil’s Hole.
For details please go to: www.nationaltrustjersey.org.je
Relive the legend ... The Black Dog of Bouley Bay - Many years ago, the people of Trinity talked of a huge, black dog, with eyes the size of saucers, that roamed the cliff paths round Bouley Bay dragging its chain behind it. The sound of the chain would frighten people so much that they would stop in their tracks only to be caught by the dog. The dog would then circle its victim at great speed in order to terrify them further. No bodily harm was ever done to the victims but they were usually found cowering against a hedge in a state of shock after their encounter with the Black Dog. Due to this, the slightest mention that the dog had been heard was enough to send people hurrying back to their homes. But did the dog ever exist, or did smugglers make him up, so that scared parishioners wouldn't see them landing secret stores of brandy and tobacco? It is still said that if you do see Le Chien de Bouley, there will be a storm. Does the dog still roam the cliff paths?