I wondered whether to include this entry in my Athletics Jersey blog, or here in my more general blog. Eventually it was an easy decision; my running (if you can even call it that) just now bears little relation to the sport of athletics. But these balmy summer evenings can’t be ignored and I motored up to St Ouen and parked in the Val de la Mare top car park. Due to dam repairs you can’t run the full circumference of the reservoir right now so I set off on the shorter, clockwise route. Heavy of leg and increasingly heavier of stomach I had no expectation of non-stop running. This makes for an enjoyable, no-pressure little outing. Before reaching the dam I was passed in the other direction by Ellen Richings, now I believe in her mid-40s but looking as lithe and as fit as ever. I think, to this day, only Gemma Dawkins of Spartans has run 400m faster.
Dropping down to sea level I decided to investigate a little pathway up through the gorse as you turn right into Rue de la Mare. A little way up, cut into the hillside, is a well-hidden German casemate bunker. A little further on some old corrugated iron and what look like the remains of sandbags. No doubt if I care to penetrate the rest of the thick gorse and blackberry bushes when more suitably dressed I’ll find much more evidence of the Occupation. Although our Occupation historians will know every inch it’s like you’re discovering something for the first time.
Back onto Rue de la Mare I chicken out of trying other off-road tracks that might easily be private property. Instead I content myself with plodding up the little hill Chemin de Hativie, that connects Rue de la Mare and Mont Matthieu, before turning back along Rue de la Campagne. It was in the little valley to the right that the then Seigneur of St Ouen, Philip de Carteret, escaped the pursuit of French soldiers when his horse succeeded in jumping a sunken road in 1487. He escaped back to St Ouen’s Manor where his horse collapsed and died. And indeed in 1904 they unearthed an ancient shoulder bone of a horse in the grounds.
Whatever, left into Mont Rossignol and right into one of Jersey’s most hidden lanes, Les Charrieres. One knows what to expect entering a lane so-named but fortunately the trip downwards and back up is much shorter than the Bouley Bay or Bonne Nuit versions. At the end one comes across a proud stone above what might once have been a well or pump head. Named Le Coin and dated 1898 the stone immortalises the then Connetable of St Ouen one HP d’Auvergne and his Roads Committee for ever.
Emerging by the gatehouse of the Manor it’s a short plod back to the car park. I’m intrigued by the overgrown path of the German railway that runs under the road at this point. One fine day I’m going to try to trace where it goes from here. I’d be delighted to recover an old rivet or something, I’m easily pleased. An idyllic 58-minute plod.