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Bradshaw’s Guide

A descriptive guide to Alderney & Sark

Those who have an opportunity afforded them to visit the little islands of Alderney and Sark will not regret availing themselves of the offer, should there be fan: weather attendant on the excursion. Sark — also called Serk or Sercq — is six miles to the east or Guernsey, and is rather more than three miles in length. Its average breadth is not quite a mile, and in one part it is actually not many yards wide, but the island is still a thriving and fertile spot, and maintains in independent comfort a population of nearly 600 healthy and hardy islanders. The cliffs by which it is bounded are from 100 to 200 feet high.

The Coupée Rock, its chief wonder, is a narrow neck of land, about five feet broad, with a precipitous descent on each side of about 350 feet down to the sea. It is a favourite spot with “pic-nics,” but in windy weather is not to be ventured upon without caution.

The Coupée Rock, Sark. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Original: Library of Congress

This remarkable island is a little kingdom in itself, being governed by a parliament of forty resident copyhold tenants, which meets three times a-year, under the command of the Lord of Sark. This assembly appoints the police force of the island, which consists of two individuals, and that this formidable couple are found sufficient may be presumed, from the fact, that though there is a gaol erected, no individual has ever been lodged in it since it was built.

Midway between Sark and Guernsey are Herm and Jethou, two insignificant islets, the one containing a population of 41 and the other of 5.

About twenty miles from Guernsey, north-east by north, and forty from Jersey, is the little island of Alderney, so famous for its celebrated cows. The island is about four miles long, a mile and a-half broad, and eight miles in circumference. The south-east coast is composed of some striking lofty cliffs, ranging from 150 to 200 feet in height. The inhabitants, chiefly fishermen, consist of about 5,000 individuals.

Six miles to the west of Alderney are “The Caskets,” a dangerous cluster of rocks, included in the compass of a mile. They have three lighthouses, so placed as to form a triangle, and be a protection to shipping. It was on these rocks that Prince William, only son of Henry I., perished by shipwreck, in the year 1119; and where, in 1744, the Victory was lost, with 1,100 men. From this it will be seen, that even when the attractions of Guernsey and Jersey are on the wane, there are some resources left in these excursions, which will give the tourist, who has no misgivings of the sea and the stalwart Channel boatmen, the opportunity of enjoying an additional round of novelties.

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