Gander at Guernsey

The island of Guernsey, part of the Channel Islands, hasn’t always been separated from land. Up until about 6,000 years ago, towards the end of the last Ice Age, Guernsey formed a peninsula which was part of France. Although it is located much closer to France than England, it is a British Crown dependency, although not technically British, and certainly not French.

Guernsey is quite a small island of just 63 square kilometres (24 square miles). It has a pleasant climate and low taxes, so it is popular with visitors and businesses, many of which take advantage of having a base there with the convenience of being close to Europe and enjoying low costs.

The biggest town on the island, and its capital is St Peter Port, which is located on the east coast. It has a population of just over 16,000 permanent residents, although this number does swell dramatically during the high tourist season. It is a somewhat cosy town, with narrow, steep streets, alleyways and steps which overlooks the Channel Islands’ main harbour.

Due to its fortuitous location in the English Channel, St Peter Port has long been a popular trading centre, even dating back to well before the Romans arrived. St Peter Port is also duty free so shopping, especially for electronics, photographic equipment, perfumes, alcohol and tobacco is important to the town’s economy.

Given the town’s laid-back feel, it is not surprising that sitting around in outdoor cafes indulging in people watching over food and drink is also a not uncommon pursuit.

Getting around the island is easy, but for those who wish to drive there is a maximum speed limit of 35mph, and even slower in some of the windier and more built up areas. Nevertheless, there are still plenty of buses, mini buses and taxis for those who don’t want to hassle with parking, which can be difficult in some places.

Cycling and walking are also common means for visitors to get around. There are some great walks to do, especially those which follow the cliff tops, then lead you down to the many bays and beaches. In fact, the island even hosts walking festival each Spring and Autumn for those who enjoy walking with groups.

Accessing the island is usually done by either plane or ferry. A flight from Gatwick takes about 45 minutes, and fast ferries from the south coast of England take just under three hours, and about two hours from St Malo in France.

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