Heathlands and coastal paths galore, as well as the UK's only fully car-free zone. The Channel Islands are a rural paradise, and a trip to Jersey or Guernsey is a perfect escape from the city if you want to get back in touch with the great outdoors. Best of all, you can reach them both in just over an hour's flight from London City Airport, making the Channel Islands one of the most easily reachable wildernesses from the City of London. Here are seven reasons why they're perfect for an outdoor adventure trip.
1. The Channel Islands are meant for exploring on foot
They might be part of the UK but the Channel Islands have a geography and a feel entirely their own, not quite British; not quite French.The orchard-dotted landscapes often share more in common with Normandy so exploring the islands on foot is totally distinct from the mainland. And because of their compact size, you get a variety of walks and trails on Jersey and Guernsey that's hard to find elsewhere in the UK. In one walk or run you can cover secluded woodland, wildflower-covered meadow, clifftop coastal path and scramble down to a stunning hidden cove. And if that didn't convince you that the Channel Islands are best explored under your own steam…
2. Sark is car-free
The only traffic you have to compete with on this little island is tractors and horse-drawn carts, so you've no choice but to explore on foot or by bike. At just 2.75 by 1.5 miles it's very possible to cover the entire island in a day. Which is a pretty cool conquest if you like the idea of microadventures. The other reward is the kind of gorgeously rustic countryside you have to travel down to Cornwall for on the mainland. The easiest way to get to Sark is on the ferry from Guernsey, which takes under an hour.
3. Jersey's surf breaks
St Ouen's Bay is one long curve of beach break that spans almost the whole length of Jersey's west coast and draws in Atlantic swell like a magnet. As you'd expect, the summer months are calmer but conditions pick up significantly in September and there's a good proportion of rideable waves. The section near the slipway at Le Braye is fairly reliable, and both fun for experienced surfers and manageable for beginners. Elsewhere you can find the odd sporadic reef break around the island, and Jersey is well set up for learners, with at least four surf schools along St Ouen's Bay.
4. Coasteering on Jersey
Since you're never more than about two miles from the sea on the largest Channel Island, it makes sense that Jersey is all about coastal fun. The rocky shoreline is made for coasteering – if you haven't tried the sport then this is the place to do it. Jumping off cliffs into the sea, climbing rocky crags and swimming between them is the most exciting way to explore Jersey's wild coastline, and there are several companies that lead coasteering trips on the island.
5. The sky at night
Sark is a designated dark-sky preserve, meaning there are special restrictions on artificial light pollution. That makes it a pretty special place for sleeping under the stars, though the Channel Islands' location away from the dense settlements of mainland Britain and France mean that they're all spectacular places for stargazing and enjoying the tranquil outdoors at night.
6. The wildlife
That's right – there's more than cows here. Jersey has one of the largest tidal zones in the world, creating a unique habitat that attracts a huge range of birds, and it's one of the few places left in the UK where you can still see red squirrels. Take a walk to clifftop vantage points or get out on the water and you can also often spot bottlenose dolphins off Jersey's coast.
7. They're a windsurfer's dream
The beauty of a small island is you're always a stone's throw from coastline at all points of the compass. Too much chop for you off the north coast? Not a problem – the south beaches are 15 minutes away. You can drive from La Rocque the far southeast of Jersey to Plemont Bay in far northwest in around half an hour; hire a car in Jersey to transport your own kit around easily. Guernsey has a particularly healthy windsurfing scene, and the islands are also well set-up for sailors.
If you're feeling inspired, book a flight from London City Airport, or find out more about the Channel Islands with our guides to Guernsey and Jersey.
Heathlands and coastal paths galore, as well as the UK's only fully car-free zone. The Channel Islands are a rural paradise, and a trip to Jersey or Guernsey is a perfect escape from the city if you want to get back in touch with the great outdoors.