Crisp and clear. Parking at Noirmont it was a three-top and gloves day for sure. Every time I venture this way the boys of the Channel Islands Occupation Society seem to have done more work in reinstating Batterie Lothringen. The Germans’ alpha defensive position during the Occupation, the bunkers were back-filled in the late 1940s and the armaments slung over the cliffs. Now much has been recovered and is there for all to see.
First a warm-up trot across Noirmont Common, through the woods and over to Portelet. The sign for the Old Portelet Inn says est.1606. Hogwash. The building may (or may not) date from then but the pub is firmly mid 1900s. It’s a fine establishment though and one puts up with the restaurant feel as it keeps one of our few remaining decent country pubs going. EDIT Sept 2013 – thanks to the wonderful folk at the Jersey Archive I learn that the original building indeed dates back to 1606 but the first mention of an inn or hostelry is 1950.
Around past the unloved Portelet apartments and past the site of the former Hotel Bergerac and the last hotel that remained out this way, the now-closed Portelet Hotel. In Jersey’s heyday Portelet swarmed with holidaymakers, now there’s nary a one left, even in the summer.
Onto Portelet Common and a bit of a scramble down the stepped track to Ouaisne. The rivulets on the beach are frozen today – the sun doesn’t get around here until later. I want to follow the path up through Ouaisne Common, today a fragile eco system supporting the rare agile frog. The path turns into a track which ends abruptly at a spooky cottage and I turn back.
Finding the drive at the bottom of Les Ruisseaux Estate I trot up towards the main road, gawking at the properties. This, with Park Estate, was one of Jersey’s first exclusive out-of-town residential estates. Each property is self-contained and designed to the original owner’s specification. Posh, but not offensively so. I guess most of the dwellings were built in the 1920 – 1940 period, but Les Ruisseaux Lodge, at the top of the drive, is by far the oldest – again a guess at 1860.
Onto the main road and back into Route de Noirmont. A little way along, on the right, a footpath has been established over an ancient watercourse. Puffing along it I read that here is another enclave of the aforementioned amphibians.
Approaching Noirmont again one passes through Warren Farm, an old Jersey farm purchased by the States of Jersey to save it from dereliction. It is now tenanted and working and further into the common you can see their amazingly big and fat pigs, pretty unique to Jersey. Also it’s nice to see a newly-established coffee kiosk at the farm, open even in the winter when most concessions are locked and barred.
This is one of my favourite parts of the Island and it features widely in my second novel A Jersey Midsummer Tale due to be published in a few months time. What? My first novel? Click on the middle tab at the top of the page.