For centuries if not millennia, ‘naturalists’ have been enjoying the spectacular range of life found on Jersey’s shores. In Victorian times Havre des Pas was the site of one the finest aquaria in Europe, supported by a celebrated marine laboratory at the gateway to our priceless southeast coast intertidal wilderness. Andrew led his first beach walk not far from home at L’Etacq on the northwest coast in 1994. ‘Moonwalks’ take place on the opposite corner of ‘the Rock’, as Jersey is affectionately known, and are only possible by grace of the moon and sun’s gravitational influence on our ocean-covered planet.
‘Moonwalks’ came to life in 1996, as an exercise to educate the Island’s population in the ways of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, which the States of Jersey signed in 1976. ‘Moonwalks’ take place under the sun (usually) and explore a savage low tide seascape of gutters, reefs, tidal flats, lagoons, sandbanks and boulder fields - said to resemble the surface of Earth’s largest satellite. ‘Lunatic Nightwalks’ proceed gently under the light of a full moon, more often than not involve a little Calvados, and occur just once or twice each month.
Prime objectives when venturing out from dry land are historic Seymour and Icho Towers, standing sentinel against invaders on the perimeter of Le Banc Violet. On your way to and from these imposing stone relics of historic conflict with nearby France, a whole host of fascinating prompts both natural and man made, will give cause to pause, examine, discuss and wonder. When out on the Violet Bank proper, at night or on more adventurous walks, such is the unforgiving nature of the natural elements a mile or more offshore, groups will often enjoy the company of a second guide. Grouvillais sage and wildlife artist Nick Parlett frequently makes the trip and any number of other local characters have been known to turn up too.
Arguably the most exciting walk in the Channel Islands, the ‘Two Towers Moonwalk’ involves a seven mile plus seabed trek and takes in both towers on the same low tide. The first time Andrew offered this route to the public in 1997 on a ‘see who comes’ basis, more than 180 intrepid folks made the journey with him. Today walking parties are much smaller, usually a dozen, or fifteen maximum, though larger groups are possible by request. Only once before has a ‘Two Towers Lunatic Nightwalk’ traversed the Violet, a sortie no-one who waded through the small hours will ever forget. Repeat expeditions are planned.
Each ‘Moonwalk’ is an immersion, so do expect to get wet ~ occasionally from above, usually from below, often just a touch, sometimes so you laugh out loud. Advice will be provided on booking.
If you wish to remain dry (no guarantees), you could try a different wander…
‘West Coast Odyssey’ ~ a descent from the northern cliffs at Grosnez, past Le Pinacle to cross the bight of St Ouen’s Bay, as far as the coarse, granitic sands of La Pulente, end of the Five Mile Road. A half-day voyage through natural and human history.
‘La Corbière Corner an Introduction to Maritime Jersey’ ~ a gentle stroll to the lighthouse and back. Our southwest point can be a busy crossroads, for currents, creatures and boats. Expect to see and hear about ninety minutes worth of interesting ‘stuff’ to try and remember.
'Green Street to Gorey' ~ visit the beaches of five different parishes on a wander through the upper reaches of the Channel Island's first Ramsar Wetland of International Importance on an ebbing tide. From historic Havre des Pas to the foot of Mont Orgueil Castle.
But please don’t be limited to these options; Andrew is working on new ideas all the time. If you have a favourite stretch of shore you would like to get to know better, or plan a beach barbecue and would relish some original ‘entertainment’ – make sure you speak to him. He has already cheerfully rockpooled and beachwalked for children’s parties, political fieldtrips, lunar eclipses, wedding anniversaries, meteorite showers, conferences and corporate get-togethers (inspirational breakfasts at sunrise for example), so use your imagination…
“Using the beach as an impromptu blackboard, he sketched out an arc in the wet sand to give us a fascinating layman’s explanation of how the vast area of sea and rocks in the distance was the last remaining part of Britain’s former land bridge to continental Europe. I found myself wondering if my career might have taken a different track had I had someone with Andrew’s passion and deep understanding of the environment as my geography teacher.” James Smith - Dorset Daily Echo
A few articles about ‘Moonwalks’ here.
"It is perhaps a more fortunate destiny to have a taste for collecting shells than to be born a millionaire." Robert Louis Stevenson