A holiday in Guernsey wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of our wonderful sister islands of Herm, Sark and Alderney. Not only are they peaceful and stunningly beautiful, they are also fascinating, quirky and unique. Here are ten facts about the islands that you most likely did not know already!
1. The islands of Sark and Little Sark are connected by a narrow isthmus, La Coupee. For many years it was believed to be haunted, and residents thought that their donkeys refused to cross the rocky ridge because they were frightened by the presence of a ghostly dog named Tchico - not because of the steep 260ft drops on either side!
2. An unusual animal that inhabits the island of Alderney is the blonde hedgehog, which is extremely rare elsewhere in Europe. Rumour has it that the uniquely coloured creature arrived on the island hidden inside a Harrods shopping bag!
3. There is evidence of life upon Herm all the way back in the Mesolithic period, over 8,000 years ago. Settlers arrived in the Neolithic and Bronze ages in search of food, and used the north end of the island for burials.
4. The “Clameur de haro” is a traditional custom historically used on Sark. If a person believes their rights are being infringed, he may recite the Lord’s Prayer and then cry “Haro, Haro, Haro! To my aid, my Prince! I am being wronged!” in French, and the disputed action must be stopped until the matter is resolved in court. This was used as recently as 1970 to prevent a wall being constructed!
5. German soldiers used the sandy beaches of Herm to practise landings from barges ahead of their intended invasion of mainland Britain during the Second World War, and even shot a propaganda film on the island entitled The Invasion of the Isle of Wight!
6. When Herm was leased to Prince Blücher during the First World War, he tried to introduce a colony of wallabies to the island! Sadly, none remain there today.
7. Like Herm, there are no cars on the island of Sark. There is however an ambulance as well as a taxi – they are actually towed by the same single tractor when needed!
8. Alderney’s own airport is the smallest in the Channel Islands, and even features a box of unfinished knitting to help you pass time while waiting for your flight!
9. During the Second World War, the whole of Alderney’s population were evacuated to mainland Britain. The Germans established four camps upon the island, and it housed as many as 4,000 forced labourers at one point, most of whom were Russian prisoners.
10. In August 1990, Andre Gardes, an unemployed nuclear physicist from France, attempted an audacious one-man invasion of Sark. After arriving on the island, he put up posters declaring his intentions to take control the following day at noon. However, whilst changing the magazine of his automatic rifle the next morning, the island’s only volunteer police constable arrested him and the invasion came to an early and unsuccessful end.