Imagine a small island with no cars and stunning scenery. Country lanes with no sound but the occasional clip-clopping of a horse’s hooves, and steep cliffs sloping down to a sparkling blue sea. Add in a bit of quirky history and this is Sark, in the English Channel Islands. Unsurprisingly, it is a favoured destination for visitors to the neighbouring island of Guernsey, for whom a day in Sark is an easy and popular trip.
Why Visit Sark?
The attraction of a visit to Sark begins with the boat trip from Guernsey, passing the tiny island of Herm before the cliffs of Sark come into view. Then there is the peace and the quiet: the ferry may be full but it is easy to walk a short distance and lose the crowds. Outside of the main village (itself pretty small) there are few signs of human habitation apart from the odd farmhouse.
The scenery is dramatic, with cliffs, caves and sandy bays, country paths and wild flowers everywhere. Cars are forbidden on the island: the only transport is horse-drawn carriages and tractors (a tractor bus takes visitors up the hill from the ferry landing).
And Sark has a unique history and culture. Although part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, it was governed through a feudal system until the current century, with democratic reforms being introduced as recently as 2008. You can learn more about the island’s government and history at La Seigneurie (see below).
Things To Do In Sark
The island is small (around 5.5 km²), meaning that it is easy to explore on foot or by bike. The inland paths are scenic, and the coastline offers opportunities for birdwatching, kayaking and boat trips. Or, if you want to be more leisurely, take a tour in a horse-drawn carriage.
La Coupee And Little Sark
Probably the most spectacular spot is La Coupee, a narrow strip of land that connects the islands of Sark and Little Sark. The road across the isthmus is narrow and 80m above the sea: cyclists and those on carriage tours must dismount and cross on foot!
Little Sark itself is a small area that is even quieter than the main island. There is supposed to be a prehistoric dolmen and the remains of some silver mines here. I didn’t find either, but I did enjoy the tranquil stroll around this corner of Sark.
La Seigneurie is the home of the Seigneur, the hereditary ruler of Sark. Visitors can enjoy the gardens, with their warm weather plants, rose beds, sensory garden and a maze.
The old chapel in La Seigneurie gardens has an exhibition area explaining a bit of the history of the island and its rulers.
Dark Sky Island
Although one day in Sark will allow you to explore most of the island, some tourists choose to make the most of the peace and the quiet by extending their visit. One benefit of an overnight stay is the night sky: the lack of cars and street lighting means that you will get some of the best conditions for stargazing anywhere in the British Isles.
In 2011 Sark was designated the world’s first “Dark Sky Island”.
A Day In Sark: Some Practicalities
- The ferry from Guernsey leaves from St Peter Port and takes around 55 minutes. When you arrive you can either walk up the hill to the village or take the tractor bus.
- Horse and carriage tours leave from the top of the hill.
- Bicycle hire is available in the village.
- There are a surprising number of places for a drink or a meal, ranging from hotels and restaurants to pubs and cafés.
- If you want to spend more than one day in Sark a wide variety of accommodation is available, including hotels, self catering and campsites.