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Channel Islands Herm


Herm is the small island, three miles off the east coast of Guernsey. The southern end is flat with sandy beaches while the north end is high rugged cliffs.


To the north is the even smaller island of Lihou. This is linked to Herm by a tidal causeway at spring tides. It is an important conservation area and the house is available for hire.


Herm has been settled since Neolithic times and Robert’s Cross is the remains of a later neolithic burial chamber is on the north side of the Island between between Le Petit Monceau and Le Grand Monceau.

In the C6th, Christian missionaries visited the island, including followers of St Tugual, a Celtic saint. A chapel was established to his memory and still in use today.

From the middle 900s, the Channel Islands came under the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Normandy. Herm was handed over by the Norman dukes into the control of Norman monasteries. Monks lived on the island for several decades, farming and giving religious instruction.

Between 1570 and 1737 Herm Island was used as a ‘playground’ for the Governors of Guernsey. Wealthy gentlemen sailed over from Guernsey to hunt, shoot and fish. The island was stocked with pheasants, partridges, swans and rabbits.

The island was then leased as farmland, and an inn established in 1810.

In C19th, Herm became a centre of the granite industry and four hundred quarrymen moved to the island. Houses, roads, the harbour, shops, blacksmith’s forge, a pub, and even a prison were built. Quarrying had ended by late 1800s although the remains of several of the quarries can still be seen.


In 1889, Prince Blucher von Wahlstatt, a Prussian prince, bought the island lease. Prince Blucher turned the island into his own private kingdom, but was forced to leave at the outbreak of World War One.

Compton Mackenzie was the next resident before moving to the even smaller island of Jehou, off the south west coast of Herm. He sold the lease to Sir Percival Perry, chairman of the Ford Motor Company, who introduced the first motor car to the island.

Herm was not occupied or fortified during the Second world War, although the Germans used it to practice troop landings in preparation for the invasion of Britain. They also made a a propaganda film ‘The Invasion of the Isle of Wight’, which was claimed to be footage of a succcessful German landing.

After the war, it was agreed that Herm Island should be handed over to a series of tenants who would care for the island, preserving its natural beauty and also and allow access for everyone. The lease is now owned by the Starboard Settlement, a trust that provided financial support for developing world charities. It formed Herm Island Ltd to manage the island for its trustees and maintaining it in the condition under which they had acquired it.,

There is a regular ferry service from St Peter Port.


At high tide the boats land at the Harbour.


The Channel Islands have one of the largest tidal ranges in the World and at low tide, boats are stranded in the harbour.


Ferries have to use the Rosiere Steps instead.


There is a permanent population of about 60 people although that is increased with around 100 seasonal workers. No cars or bicycles are allowed on the island, although residents may use quad bikes or a tractor. There is a footpath around the island with tracks leading up to Manor Village at the highest point in the centre of the island.

Herm Map .jpg


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The harbour on the west coast is overlooked by the White House Hotel, once the home of Sir Percival Perry.

The blue building above the harbour is the Ship Inn.


The small white building on the quay has an information Centre. The track to the right. goes up past the shop which sells beach accessories and children’s toys as well as gifts and some clothing. This is the place to post your postcards to get a Herm frank. Beyond is terrace of attractive whitewashed houses and the Mermaid Tavern.


The track leads to the flatter and sandier part of the island, with Fisherman’s Beach.



The banks in the woodland beyond were covered with three cornered garlic.



Tucked away in the valley is a small pink farmhouse. Although the sign on the gate proclaimed there was a bull in the field, there was no sign of one...


Beyond is the long sandy sweep of Bear’s Beach.


At the far end is a tiny cemetery.


The coastal path continues round the coast to the deserted Mouisonniere Beach, Alderney Point and onto Shell Beach. Alternatively, there is a path that cuts across Herm Common, a large sandy area covered with grass and scrubby vegetation, There are views across to the tiny islands of Jethou and Crevichon.



There were a lot of bluebells.


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The path drops down to Shell Beach on the east coast, the longest, and possibly the most famous and popular beach. In the summer months there is a cafe on the beach. The sand is made up of the remains of crushed shells. When I last visited - must be nearly seventy years ago now - I am sure we found lots of shells on the beach. Now there are few shells, mainly along the high tide line.



After Shell, Beach, the path begins to climb up the hillside towards Belvoir Beach. This marks the transition to the higher southern end of the island.



There are views back to Shell Beach.


The verges were full of wild flowers with primroses, lesser celandine, violets and pennywort.



Later in the year, there will be dog roses, honeysuckle, fuschias and foxglove.

Next is Belvoir Beach with its beach cafe and views to the rocky islet of Caquorobert with Sark beyond.



The coastal path now continues round the rocky northern coast past Puffin Bay and Rosiere Steps back to the Harbour.

Between Rosiere Steps and the harbour is the harbour crane. Bought to load load granite for shipment to Guernsey of the UK, this was still in use until the 1990s. It has been rebuilt as a static display


The prison, which could only hold one person is in front of the White House Hotel.


I didn’t do this last stretch of the path. There were some steep and very eroded steps just after Belvoir Bay. I decided discretion was needed, so I turned back to take the track back up to Manor Village.

Herm cont...

A very steep track climbs up from Belvoir Beach to Manor Village on the highest part of the island. Upper Belvoir House is in a wooded valley off the track and is now self catering accommodation.


At the top of the track is the small power station with the wood fire station next to it. The tractor-hauled fire tender is used as a stopgap measure while awaiting assistance from the Guernsey Fire Brigade.



Behind the power station is a cattle crush. This was used to hold the animal still while it could be treated. This could be anything from testing for TB, hoof trimming, putting in ear tags, helping with calving or even artificial insemination.


The Manor House with its turreted tower is surrounded by terraced cottages, now all providing self catering accommodation. These would have been workers cottages.



The tiny St Tugual’s Church is here The small grassy with the detached bell tower is reached through an archway in the wall and was originally the cemetery.



Monks arrived from Sark in the C6th and established a small monastic cell on Herm. (It is not known if St Tugual actually visited Herm or if the cell was established by his followers.)

St Tugual Plan.jpg

In the early C11th, Norman Monks replaced this with a small Chapel. The building was extended in the C13th when a new nave and chancel were built with an attached house for the priest. The original chapel then became the north transept. Monks were able to sit in the north transept during services without being visible to the population in the nave.

The chapel was no longer used after the C16th and for as while was even used as a laundry. It was restored and reconsecrated in the 1890s by Prince Blucher and is still used for non-denominational services most Sundays.

Being tiny, there is a one way system. Entry is through the west door into the nave.


Inside, it is a very simple building, with rough granite walls and a whitewashed ceiling. The altar with gilded crucifix and two candles is on a raised dais.There is a wooden lectern but no pulpit ot font.



The stained glass windows are modern. There are two small windows high on the west wall above the door. One depicts Jesus in the temple with an Elder. The other is a depiction of Noah’s ark complete with two Guernsey cows with their white noses.



The window in the south wall of the chancel is a very modernistic image of Jesus with the fisherman.


The north transept is reached through a pointed archway and contains the organ. Above the north door is a picture from Matthew’s Gospel when Jesus is telling his disciples he will make them fishers of men.



The north door leads out into the Manor Courtyard.


A steep track drops down from Manor Village through the trees to the harbour. There is an attractive garden area half way down.


Near this is the small water supply and treatment plant. Herm has seven boreholes ranging from 100-300’ in depth that supply all the island’s water.


Choose a dry day for a visit as, apart from the church, pubs and hotel, there is no shelter. Sun hats and sunscreen are also advisable!


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