Don’t let the buggy hold you back
One of the biggest challenges for new parents is feeling stuck at home with a baby or toddler. Getting out for a walk allows you to not only enjoy fresh air and exercise, but it can also ease feelings of social isolation. But not everywhere in Guernsey is suitable for little legs or buggy wheels. Jo Le Page recommends some of her favourite routes...
HERE in Guernsey we get very excited about sunshine – and rightly so. With so many beautiful beaches, cliff paths, stunning scenery and a lovely cafe or picnic bench never far away, who wouldn’t want to be outdoors?
Going for a walk is an activity that can be done rain or shine, although most of us may prefer it if it isn’t raining.
Walking with children in tow, including a buggy, can rule out some walks, especially any that involve numerous steps, but there still is plenty of choice.
There are some routes that I have done and some that have been recommended by friends which I have yet to try.
The walk that I enjoy the most is the Table des Pions, more commonly known as the ‘Fairy Ring’. Parking can be found just beyond the Imperial Hotel, adjacent to the beautiful Portelet Harbour. From here you will find a lovely tarmacked walk awaits you. There are a few hills, which work the leg and arm muscles when you’re pushing the buggy up but are a nice relief to walk down on the way back, and you can replenish those burnt calories with a lovely selection of tasty treats from the Portelet kiosk.
Even though there are some cars that require access to and from the first 200 or so metres of the walk, beyond is car-free.
My children love the fairy ring walk. They are particularly delighted when it includes the Portelet kiosk – my mum’s springer spaniel slurps up the dog water gratefully, my two-year-old dives enthusiastically head first straight into the bucket of beanie animals and my daughter excitedly is nose to the ice-cream board. By the time it is our turn, my daughter is reeling off a list of ice creams, the dog is nose to the ground scampering off towards the trees and my toddler is optimistically holding an armful of beanie toys while I try to move the buggy out of the way of the queue, talk to the patient kiosk worker, open my purse while prising handfuls of toys out of my now crying toddler’s arms and reassuring my daughter that yes, I will ask if they do strawberry Cornettos...
This is all before the walk, where the children head in opposite directions but we do end up eventually enjoying the fantastic view as they spend ages dancing and running around the fairy ring and I take a breath and inhale the gorgeous scenery.
But I digress. The west coast has some of the nicest natural buggy-friendly headland walks, with the starting point from the Port Soif kiosk being another firm favourite with my family. Travelling north along the winding path, past the pebbly surfer’s beach of Portinfer (my children love exploring there) and towards the clay pigeon shooting range makes for a lovely vista.
I remember being advised to get out in the fresh air daily and ‘connect with nature’ – this is particularly good advice when you are sleep deprived and may be tempted to stay indoors most of the time with a baby. As the wind picked up and I crammed on my ear muffs, squinting at the path ahead, I did feel that I was ‘colliding with nature’ rather than connecting with it, but the fact I was out still ticked the box.
I can also recommend parking at the Vale Pond/Nature Reserve kiosk (close to the towering spire of the Vale Church), from where you have the choice to explore north or south. North takes you to the lovely Amarreurs Harbour with a perhaps slightly older children’s playground placed just before Ladies Bay.
If you are feeling particularly energetic, the paths continue to Chouet Bay, with the kiosk and great views of the whole of Le Grand Havre, or even further to Pembroke Bay with its sprawling beach and lovely kiosks/restaurant. There are toilets at both Chouet and Pembroke.
From the Vale Pond kiosk to the Chouet kiosk takes about 30-40 minutes (one way) at around 2.4km. Travelling south from the Vale Pond, you have Le Picquerel Point, Rousse Harbour and, beyond that, Port Grat (kiosk and toilet at Rousse).
If the woods are more your thing, then I can recommend the nature reserve from Saumarez Park. Parking at the rear car park of Saumarez Park, carefully walk out of the car park and across the road and follow the path left that leads along and beyond Home Farm. The route eventually takes you to near Cobo village. The walk takes about 40-50 minutes.
Town also has lovely walks, one of which by can be found around Cambridge Park and Candie Gardens.
Being able to go for walks directly from your house is always useful. I find in St Sampson’s I am more likely to have to keep stopping to hug the wall every time I hear a car approaching, whereas in Torteval and the upper parishes, the lanes just keep connecting and leading to stunning views which are relatively quiet too.
I recently discovered the lanes by Vale School and found the views along there beautiful and the interconnecting lanes lovely and quiet.
There is also a great walk in the Perelle lanes leading to St Apolline Chapel.
If going buggy-free is preferable, an alternative option is to use one of the multitude of sling or backpack carriers on the market. That way, you won’t have to worry about whether the terrain can fit a buggy or not. On Facebook there is a local babywearing group, ‘Babywearing Guernsey – chat and sales’, which I recommend.
Guernsey may be small, but there are always new places to discover. Whatever you do and wherever you go, I wish you happy exploring.
- Jo Le Page is a stay-at-home mum and writer who also has her own blog, freshbreadandfaith.wordpress.com/.