Parts of our adventure this week went a little bit beyond the remit of microadventure. Although we went only for one night, and the wild-camp was quick and simple, we did require some specific kit and experience to get to and from our camping spot. If you are feeling inspired to do a trip such as this, make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the local tides and currents, and, as always, carry appropriate safety equipment with you.
It probably isn’t much of a surprise, considering that we live on an island, that most of our micro-adventures are going to feature the sea somehow. The weather forecast for the next couple of days showed wall-to-wall sunshine with a light breeze, so we borrowed a couple of kayaks from our housemates and set off for the nearby island of Herm.
Carrying kayaks laden with camping gear, food, and water, meant that the three minute walk down the lane from our house to the beach ended up taking nearly twenty. By the time we reached the water’s edge our arms were already sore. The route we had planned, from home to Herm, is just over 10km. We gave ourselves a generous two hours to make it around the north coast of Guernsey, past rocky headlands dotted with fortifications and bounded by breaking waves and crab pot markers. From there our route took us a short way down the east coast to just beyond Beaucette, near to where we camped last week. Here we rested and ate our lunch while waiting for the window of opportunity during which we would need to cross the Little Russel – the 4km channel of water between Guernsey and Herm. In these waters, where the tides can be powerful and unforgiving, the tidal flow is slack at about half tide. For us, this meant that the strong south-running currents would ease off before changing direction to flow north and begin building in strength again. We needed to time our crossing so that we would catch the tail-end of the south-moving flow but also allow enough time that we would safely arrive in Herm before it turned to the north. With fine weather and neap tides the conditions were perfect and it went like clockwork.
Arriving in Herm is like landing on some far-off paradise isle, especially on days like this when the scorching sun is glaring off the expanses of tiny fragments of crushed white seashells that carpet the beautiful sandy bays. By early afternoon we had dragged the kayaks up the beach and had settled in for another relaxing session of snorkelling and exploring.
The time passed quickly and before we knew it we were watching the crimson sunset over Guernsey while Lucy cooked another one-pot wonder (tomato & lentil spaghetti) and I built our sleep shelter using a tarp, two bamboo sticks, and the kayaks. The night was so clear that we didn’t really need any shelter at all, but we wanted to check that the tarp was still in one piece and it also gave me an interesting subject to use for my nighttime photo experimenting.
Before getting cosy in our sleeping bags we went for a walk, in the dark and with our tripod, down the coast to Belvoir bay, a beautiful little cove, where I was hoping we would have enough protection from the light pollution of Guernsey, France, and Jersey to be able to photograph the amazing view that we had of the Milky Way. A dazzling bright light shining across the water from the island of Breqchou however spoiled the view, so, after many attempts, we moved on to find a better spot along the cliff path.
The night was peaceful and we both woke feeling rested, if slightly achy, ready for a beaker of coffee and some hot porridge with peanut butter and mum’s blackberry jam. We had until around 1pm before the tide would be approaching slack once again and ready for us to embark on our return journey back to Guernsey – just enough time for some more snorkelling and a litter-pick.
Helped out by a very slight tail-wind and the advantage of a lighter load (having eaten/drank some of it), we went from the white sands of Herm to our front door in 2 hours. With the sand and salt rinsed from our kit, and the kayaks safely returned to their owners, it is back again to our normal routine until next week.