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Channel Islands La Grande Havre Bay and Rousse Tower, Guernsey

Grande Havre Bay and Rousse Tower


Grande Havre bay is a large sandy bay on the north east coast of Guernsey. It marks the place that once separated Guernsey into two islands - the small flat area of Vale from the rest of Guernsey. In 1804, the then Lieutenant Governor dammed and drained the waterway, linking the two. Money raised from selling the reclaimed land was used to build military roads linking up the loophole towers and headland forts. The top part of the road to St Peter Port is still called La Route Militaire.

Guernsey has one of the largest tidal ranges in the world. At high tide, there is just a small fringe of sand but the tide goes out exposing a huge area of sand stranded boats and small rocks.


Overlooking the bay is the small settlement of St Sampson around a Norman church.


To the east La Grande Havre runs into the smaller Ladies Bay (where ladies could bathe in Vicroria times away from the men) and Chouet Bay, Both have golden sand beaches. (I have happy memories of Chouet as this is where I learnt to swim, aged about 7.)


In late April the verges and grassland were covered with wild flowers - tall yellow alexanders, bluebells, three cornered garlic, along with buttercups and red campion.


Behind the beaches there is L’Ancress Common with its golf course, Les Fouaillages Neolithic Burial Chamber and the Millennium Stone on the top of the hill.

At the outbreak of the American War of Independence in 1776, France allied itself with the Americans. The Channel Islands were in danger of invasion by the French and a series of 15 Loophole Towers were built around the island, to guard the most vulnerable beaches.

The towers were built to a standard design, being 30 feet high and 20 feet in diameter. There were musket loopholes and there would have been a cannon mounted on the roof. They served as barracks and guard house for adjacent cannon batteries. Manning the towers was the responsibility of the local militia, drawn from farmers, fishermen and quarrymen.

Loophole tower.jpg

Chouet and Rousse Towers were built on the headlands overlooking La Grande Havre Bay. With its sheltered gently sloping beach, it would be an easy target for an invading force.



There was already a small battery at Rousse, and this is unusual as the tower and battery form a single combined building. This was protected by a wall on the landward side and a ditch on the sea ward side. It had a separate small stone magazine built nearby.




In 1816 the battery had three 24 pounder cannons and two nine pounder cannons The towers are all of a standard design. They are 30 feet (9m) high and 20 feet (6m) in diameter.


Rousse Tower was restored at the end of the C20th and opened to the public, however it is currently closed.

Beyond the headline, the shore is rocky and unsuitable for invasion


Beyond the headland is the smaller and quieter Port Grass Bay.


There is a lovely walk from Rousse to Chouet and L’Ancresse Bay.

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