UK / Europe

Sark lark

The smallest, and least visited of the Channel Islands, Sark is just ten miles southeast of Guernsey. Regular, (and irregular in winter), boat services transport travellers in about an hour, from a mainland dotted with with commercial necessities, to this tiny island, both a step back in time, and an escape from life’s modernities.

Sark is a haven for those escaping the urban jungle of cars and traffic, and also those escaping the Inland Revenue. Sark is a land of no cars, and no income tax. It’s self-governing, recently democratic, and still feudal.

Just over 600 people live on Sark, and if no one knows your name before you arrive, stay more than 8 hours, and everyone will by the time you leave. Stay here long enough, and it can even feel like a page from The Firm.

There are two main parts, Greater Sark and Little Sark, connected by a narrow isthmus called La Coupee, which offers one of the most stunning views on the island, and also the steepest hill. Not for those with a fear of heights, there’s a 100m drop on each side, down to turquoise waters and a golden sandy beach.

There’s no pollution on Sark. No pesticides, either. All of that makes for great, dark skies at night, all the better for star-gazing.

There’s a “toast rack” trolley that transports visitors up the harbour hill to the four-cornered centre of town, where bike rental shops await. Booking ahead is essential in the summer months unless you fancy walking the island. It’s not big, but will take an hour to travel end to end. Horse-drawn carriages can be hired as well. Tractors are for the menial tasks of transporting luggage and cargo.

The wide, car-free, dirty lanes are a cyclists’ dream. In mid-summer, vibrant shades of blue and green wash over the landscape, filled in with more exotic colours from the tropical flora which thrive on the island. Stone houses and fields which seem to reach out to the sea create eye candy on every route.

The Seigneurie Gardens are worth a look, though £3.50 seemed a bit steep for fairly small grounds. Better still, follow the signs for the walk to the “window in the rock” just up the road, a bit further north. We never found it, but were treated to another of the island’s most breathtaking views by following the signs.

A day on Sark will do it for those just wanting a dip into this remote island. But, if you’re curious about the culture, and want a first-hand taste, you’ll have to spend the night and mingle with the locals.

Getting there:
Sark Shipping Services

Tips: Best to travel from Guernsey, rather than Jersey, where boats can be delayed due to rough weather in the Atlantic. Travel insurance is strongly advised. Boats can be delayed due to other reasons. Aurigny Airlines operate flights from the UK to Guernsey.

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