Guernsey Walks - Round the Island walks - Petit Bot to Le Gouffre and back
La Moye Point.
Walk R6. Petit Bot to Le Gouffre and back
Time: 1 hr. 15 mins.
A map of the walk can be found here.
This walk starts from probably the most popular of the south coast bays, and starts to penetrate towards some of the more rugged cliffs around the south west corner of Guernsey.
Park at the bottom of Petit Bot Valley, where there are tea rooms (open in season) and public toilets (open 1st March to 31st October). There is some parking on the roads surrounding the tea room. Otherwise drive up the right hand of the roads leaving the bay and park on the right. There is no bus access to the bay, but you can take a bus (routes 91 to 95, or P1) to Le Bourg (or possibly P1 to/from the Airport) and walk down the hill. (To avoid walking all the way back up to the top again afterwards, see where to leave the walk as noted below).
Start up the concrete steps which leave the road near the tea garden, slanting in a south-westerly direction up the cliff and beside the bay. At the point where the path levels out briefly, turn right to continue up steps. By keeping straight on, there is an optional detour here to St Clair Battery. There is little of the battery left, but you get a fine view back into Petit Bot.
Otherwise continue up the steps, reach the top by a couple of seats, and then follow the path as it bends left. Ignore a right turn, and almost immediately keep straight on (half right) at a fork.
By taking the left fork you have an optional detour to Portelet Bay, which is worth doing if only for the walk. (Note if you visit the actual beach, that the path joins the bay half way along the cliff. Do not get cut off!). Just after joining this left fork to Portelet you pass the top of some steps on your left, which is where the detour to the battery comes back up.
Our path continues along the right hand side of Petit Bot and above Portelet, then bends right around the headland, soon becoming a track. Keep straight on. On a clear day you may be able to spot Les Roches Douvres with their large lighthouse on the horizon to your left (something like 200 to 210 degrees magnetic if you have a compass). These formed part of the setting for Victor Hugo's "Toilers of the Sea". Gilliatt, the dubious hero of the book, salvages the engine of a wrecked ship from these rocks (no mean feat except in fiction!) to try to gain the hand of Deruchette, his distant and clearly hopeless love. Needless to say it all ends badly for him!
A little further on the track bends to the right, and some 100 metres later a granite block signs the cliff path leaving on the left to cross the little valley. Join this path then keep left at a T junction. The path follows the side of the valley, then turns right onto the cliff at a seat where you gain a view down to La Moye Point, with a little fisherman's landing on its left. Note the runway for boats. I've never actually seen it in use, though clearly it must be used.
The path winds down some steps, and reaches the end of La Moye Point by a little wall. (The path in front of the wall goes down to the little fishermen's landing). La Moye Point is perhaps Guernsey's closest approximation to anything like a ridge walk. The more agile, who don't mind the use of hands and a degree of exposure, may wish to walk along the ridge for a short way, starting from the end of the wall. Ordinary walkers will get no further than the top of the first and largest of the two main rocky outcrops. This is as far as I ever go. Care is needed even here. If you have rock climbing skills you might possibly find it possible to penetrate further, though I have never seen anybody actually doing so (If you're tempted, take good note of the character of the rock, and remember my disclaimer). However far you go, you will need to retrace your steps back to the wall.
From the wall continue along the broad path traversing up the side of the cliff. This reaches the valley of Le Gouffre (45 mins) and bends to the right to join a road. You pass Café Escalier on your left.
Continue up the road and take the first right hand turning (Rue des Fontenelles), which is at a point where the main road bends to the left. After a few minutes the lane starts to descend and passes through the attractive little hamlet of Le Variouf. Keep on the main road, and do not turn off to the left.
After passing the hamlet there is a left hand hairpin bend. Take the track going off on the right ("Pedestrians only. Cycles and Motorcycles prohibited"), which is signed on a granite block "Petit Bot - Portelet - Le Gouffre". (However, if you have a bus to catch at Le Bourg, you may prefer to leave the walk at this point, continuing on the road around the bend, and then walking up the hill to the bus stop).
The main walk continues pleasantly along the track through some mature deciduous trees, then rejoins your outward route at a T junction.
If you missed the detours to St Clair Battery or Portelet on the way out, you have a second chance here by turning right and then immediately forking left (then for the battery turn left again down the steps). Otherwise turn left and descend the steps of your outward route back to Petit Bot. (1 hr. 15 mins.).