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A new jet service from Gatwick to Guernsey means it’s even easier to enjoy the delights of this Channel Island on a short break.
The Channel Islands were the only British territory occupied during the war.
Nazi forces commandeered the island from 30 June 1940 to – it was a time of curfews and privation. Aside from the jumble of guns, uniforms and 65-year-old preserved plums on display at the German Occupation Museum, military bunkers and trenches scar the island; Martello towers, built in the early 19th century to keep Napoleon at bay, are topped with Nazi extensions.
On arrival, guide Elizabeth Gardener-Wheeler took me on a (leisurely) tour of the wedge-shaped island: it’s vaguely triangular, the south coast cliffs sliding down to sandy shallows in the north.
Our drive passed wide beaches, Guernsey cows and parish churches.
The level of fortification for such a small outpost is startling – over 66,000 mines were laid here.
For Hitler, little Guernsey was a big prize: a strategic brick in the Atlantic wall, a potential staging post for a mainland offensive and ideal rallying propaganda – German troops on British soil. A booklet of local Tasty Walks – scenic hikes, all with restaurants or cafés en route – provided my inspiration, and I headed south from St Peter Port to trace the island’s most dramatic seaboard.
I was up early, and the capital’s cobbled streets and boat-bobbed marina were quiet.
Castle Cornet, which has stood guard over the harbour for nearly eight centuries, was at peace – its five museums not yet open for the day. If you had energy and time enough, you could make a loop of Guernsey: it’s a 39-mile circuit.
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