Bryony SymesSee other Blog articles filed in ‘Travel and touring’ written by Bryony Symes
Yes, it is possible to tour Jersey without leaving your caravan at home. There’s no need to pay for expensive B&Bs in order to soak up the sun in the Channel Islands. It is easier than ever to take your tourer here, although you’ll have to leave your van on your pitch to enjoy the other gorgeous islands. But you'll be richly rewarded, as there are lots of things to do in Jersey and beyond.
Unlike other caravan holidays, when you visit Jersey you do have to plan your trip a little in advance, to ensure that you have the correct permit for taking a tourer onto the island, and you must make sure that your outfit fits into the size restrictions. Caravans must be under the 2.3m width and 6.7m length restrictions for Jersey’s roads, with a total outfit length of no more than 16.5m. There are also restrictions for the ferry crossings: the total outfit must not exceed 13.5m, and the caravan/car must not be longer than 7.5m, with a total weight limit of 3.5 tonnes.
Once you have your ferry booked, contact whichever of the three campsites on the island you choose to book your pitch and they will apply to the Jersey planning department to get an entry permit for you. These will allow you to have your tourer on Jersey for up to one month, provided you stay on the site that you have applied through.
Despite our outfit being within all of these requirements and turning up bright and early thanks to an overnight stop at South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, we still came across a snag when we turned up for our sailing from Poole. The shiny new ship on Condor’s fleet, Liberation, which was supposed to take us on a fast sailing from Poole to Jersey, had a problem with its rising deck which meant that we were too tall to sail – unless we wanted a soft top caravan!
We were soon sorted out with alternative crossings to make sure that we made it across the Channel, but it did mean going via St Malo with Brittany Ferries. Luckily we had both packed our passports.
So, 24 hours later than we had planned, we arrived on Jersey to discover why there are so many size restrictions – the roads are tiny. There are a few ‘main’ roads, just one A-road and the rest are B-roads, plus many ‘green lanes’. And I've another warning for you: it seems that a lot of UK sat navs don’t recognise Jersey postcodes, so you’ll want to have a separate atlas for planning your route, or use the map function of your sat-nav. Having said that, it’s a small island, so you’ll never be that far from your destination!
We eventually pitched at the peaceful Daisy Cottage Campsite and Retreat, where we had a warm welcome and immediately settled into the slower, more mindful pace of life here. Sadly, we didn’t get to try any of the on-site therapies, as they were fully booked. This is surely a sign of their popularity, though. The campsite also offers a cafe/restaurant in high season, and has a brand new wash block.
This campsite was a great base for us to explore the island from, as we focused on the north and west coasts, visiting Jersey War Tunnels and Le Claire Riding Stables, but mostly staying away from St Helier, a lovely town which we will have to explore on another trip. The campsite is also good for fitness enthusiasts – I found some great, challenging runs along the cliff tops and past fields of Jersey Royals which are sure to put a spring in your step.
So what else can you expect to find on your caravan holidays on Jersey? There is a wealth of military history on this small group of islands, which were occupied during World War II. You can see the scars of this occupation all along the coast, with the remnants of various fortifications and batteries crumbing into the scenery. Visit the Jersey War Tunnels to learn all about the occupation and how this extraordinary underground medical centre came to be built.
But the history of Jersey goes back further than that. Head to Mont Orgueil Castle, overlooking Gorey Harbour, which has protected the island from French invasion for over 600 years, and there are remnants of a fortification from the prehistoric period on the same site. The castle can be visited on a budget with the Heritage Pass which gives access to four historical sites for the price of three, including Elizabeth Castle, on a tidal island near St Helier, which you have to reach by ferry.
The Channel Islands really benefit from being that much closer to the equator, with generally warmer and drier weather than in mainland Britain. We made the most of this by visiting some of the many beautiful beaches on Jersey. From the sweeping sands of St Ouen’s Bay to the pretty pebbled harbour at Rozel Bay and Plemont’s golden beach which is completely covered at high tide, which we found out the hard way. Even when the tide is in at Plemont, the rugged cliffs are beautiful and definitely worth seeing.
If you’re not happy with just visiting Jersey, the rest of the Channel Islands can easily be experienced with day trips organised by several companies. Guernsey, Sark, Herm and Alderney are all just a boat ride away, but you’ll have to leave your tourer on its pitch.
Jersey is a rural idyll, perfect for a relaxing break, but not short of things to keep everyone entertained. We loved our tour, and only wish that we could have stayed longer to explore St Helier and the south of the island more. Watch out for the feature in the magazine and in our TV show on The Caravan Channel, to learn more about our island adventures – perhaps we'll inspire you to visit?