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Sark Travel Guide

Sark is a small, independent island in the English Channel that is part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey. The population is just over 600. The island is only about 3 square miles and consists of Little Sark and Greater Sark that is connected by a very narrow isthmus, La Coupée. The isthmus is just nine feet wide with a 300-foot drop from either side, a scary crossing experience were it not for the protective railings set up. There is a little private island west of Sark called Brecqhou that also belongs to Sark, but was purchased in 1993 and closed off to the public.

Most of Sark’s visitors today are vacationers of Guernsey who decide to spend a few days (or hours) in Sark out of their extended holiday. Sark is known as a remote, relaxing getaway that is loved for its picturesque countryside, characterized by its granite cliffs, “cotils” flower fields, and stunning coastline. But being the last and only feudal state left in Europe, the island is worth visiting if only for this reason alone. Sark was granted to Helier de Carteret as a “fief haubert” in 1565 by Queen Elizabeth I and the island’s status has remained ever since; it is not a part of the UK, EU, or any sovereign state. The island is held in perpetuity by the British Monarchs.

Sark is unique in that no cars are allowed on the island. People travel in horse-drawn carriages, bicycles, mopeds, and tractors. Although quite small, the island’s accommodations and amenities are highly developed, offering a range of award-winning hotels and restaurants as well as “self-catered” campsites. There are also grocery stores and health care clinics on the island.

Sark has a few notable attractions. La Seigneurie is one of them. It is and has been the home of the Seigneurs of Sark since 1730. While the house of the manor itself is not open to the public, the remainder of the estate is open to the public everyday except for Sundays. The estate includes a maze constructed out of trimmed shrubbery, a dove-cote called the Columbier where the Seigneur keeps his doves and pigeons, a pond area, and the estate’s gardens, which happen to be recognized by many horticulturalists as one of the finest in the Channel Islands.

The windmill, completed in 1571, is another interesting site. For centuries, it was used to grind corn. It is located on the island’s highest point at 375 feet above sea-level (and the highest point in the Bailiwick of Guernsey for that matter). The windmill is the second oldest tower mill in the British Isles.

The stone prison on Stark, built in 1856, is worth visiting as well. It contains two small cells and is one of the world’s smallest prisons. It is still in use today and has been used over the years to imprison drunkards and petty criminals like thieves, usually for only two or three days.

Amid the beautiful scenery and the myriad wildflowers and sea birds, you’ll also find sandy bays, beaches, rock pools, arches, and caves. Popular bays include La Grande Grêve, Derrible, Le Port à la Jument, and Les Fontaines, all of them sheltered from strong winds. The Window in the Rock is a favorite, a man-made hole created in the headland at Port du Moulin. It offers a superb view through the window of Les Autelets, the island’s northwest coast. The caves, like the Gouliot in the west and the Boutique in the north end, are also fun to explore and hike through. If you are up for a romantic swim, try the Venus Pool located in Little Sark. The pool is 20 feet deep of translucent water and is completely protected from high tide by the rocks.

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