Regardless of what you may think, the Islands of Guernsey are all surprisingly different. It is truly amazing how such a small selection of Islands can offer such wildly different atmospheres and experiences. Guernsey, as the biggest Island in the Bailiwick, appears as something of a metropolis in comparison to its sister Islands. Sark is often referenced as being the crown jewel of the Channel Islands, and from the moment you step foot on this 2-mile squared patch of land in the middle of the English Channel, you’ll understand exactly why it has gained this impressive moniker.
Only 55 minutes from Guernsey by boat, Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. What makes Sark stand out from the rest of the pack is the fact that, unlike its bigger sisters, cars are prohibited in these untouched landscapes. This can be quite unusual when you first arrive. Sure, you’ll see the odd tractor and quad bike, but these are used purely for farming and agricultural purposes. The unpaved roads lend themselves nicely to travel on-board a horse-drawn carriage, which truly gives you a sense of going back in time and allows you to take in the Island at the pace you should; slowly.
Obviously, Sark doesn’t have the room or the want for an Airport – if they don’t allow cars, you can imagine how they feel about aeroplanes… So, to reach this hidden gem you must travel by boat from Guernsey and this is where you require the help of ‘The Isle of Sark Shipping Company Ltd’. They run a passenger and freight service between Sark and Guernsey throughout the year. The journey takes approximately 55 minutes and this should be taken into consideration when booking connecting flights and ferries.
Along with its tiny population of only 500 people, another one of Sark’s interesting facts is that it was the first location in Europe to be designated as having ‘Dark Sky Status’. The award-winning International Dark Sky Places Programme was founded in 2001 to encourage communities, parks and protected areas around the world to preserve and protect dark sites through responsible lighting policies. Sark achieved this by having a generally low use of residential and commercial electricity and a remarkable absence of public street lights. So maybe take a torch if you plan on staying overnight on this dimly lit Island because you haven’t experienced dark until you’ve experienced Sark dark!
You may think that due to the small population there might not be much going on in Sark, but you’d be very wrong! Sark has some of the most exciting festivals and events that take place anywhere in the Channel Islands. SarkFest is a recurring 3-day music festival held on a stunning clifftop location every July, featuring multiple genres of music including Folk, Rhythm, Country, Blues, Reggae & Rock. Expect circus skilled clown performers, local food retailers and the best sunsets you’ve ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Also happening in July is the annual Sark Sheep Racing festival. This is exactly what you imagine it to be, but even more fun – a great day out for the whole family with stalls, games, evening entertainment and the unforgettable Sheep Race! Happening throughout the year there is also a multitude of jumble sales and sporting events.
Obviously, at this point, you’ll be thinking where is best to get a bite to eat whilst on this tiny Isle? There can’t be more than one or two places, surely? Well, you’ll be pleasantly surprised! There are six restaurants, seven cafés and two bars for you to choose between. There are also 3 hotels, La Sablonnerie Hotel, La Moinerie Hotel & Stocks Island Hotel as well as a few B&Bs, self-catering properties and campsites dotted around the two-square-mile land.
As for activities that you can enjoy year-round, Sark has some natural wonders that are guaranteed to delight all visitors. The Venus Pool is a natural rock pool, big and deep enough to swim in and marks the most southerly point of the Island. There is also the mysterious ‘Sark Henge’. Sark Henge can be found on the eastern side of the island and is a stone circle hidden along the clifftops. Unfortunately, this Henge wasn’t built thousands of years ago, it was erected in 2015 to mark the 450th anniversary since Queen Elizabeth gifted Sark to Helier De Carteret in 1565. Each of the nine stones is made of Jersey granite and contains a small viewing hole which lines up with an Island landmark throughout the Channel Islands. For a little peace and tranquillity, the Island offers yoga retreats throughout the year, the calm ambience of Sark makes it the perfect location to breathe in and let it all go.
Sark is far more than just a little Island, it has spectacular scenery, bays, coastal paths and clifftop views. It offers a truly distinctive experience for those people wanting to escape the liveliness of contemporary life. Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle or take a tour on a horse and carriage, Sark will help you create memories that will last a lifetime.