Herm Beer Festival

I have always had a soft spot for the islands to the north of Jersey, in particular Herm and Sark. Over the last 40 years I have paddled to both on numerous occasions always enjoying their coastline as well as the atmosphere on shore.
Sadly they appear to have become islands of contrast. Sark appears to have deteriorated over the last few years with numerous shops closing and in places the island appearing uncared for.  Herm on the other hand appears to have gone from strength to strength and would now be my Island of choice.
Every year there is an excuse to visit Herm in both June and September, the Herm Beer Festival. What could be better, stunning sea kayaking and the choice of 50 real ales. Last year we paddled from Jersey to the June event, but this year that wasn’t an option due to the fact that I was in plaster, following a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in Gozo.
For the September Festival we decided to take to car to Guernsey and paddle from there. The alternative plan was if it was too rough to paddle across the Little Russell we could always get the ferry. We were determined to get to Herm!
The first issue was the cost of the ferry. I think that I am pretty tolerant but £330 for a car and 3 passengers from Jersey to Guernsey is pretty excessive. It’s only about 25 nautical miles, the crossing is about an hour. It’s always the problem when you are a captive market. We booked several weeks in advance but had to just bite the bullet and pay up.
We reached Guernsey and headed towards Bordeaux, our departure point. We had to stick to a schedule as it was the largest tide of the year so the tidal streams in the Little Russell were going to be running at a considerable speed. Selecting the appropriate tidal window was essential.
The crossing passed reasonably easily and we were soon putting the tents up before heading back to the bright lights of the Mermaid Tavern.  The Herm Beer Festival is such a delightful event and we were fortunate enough to spend 3 evenings there as well as spending some of the days enjoying kayaking in the  superb coastal waters of the surrounding islands.
All too soon it was time to head back to Jersey, but already thinking that next year we would be heading north once again to experience the charms of Herm.

Herm Beer Festival
Crossing from Guernsey to Herm. As it was the largest tide of the year we aimed to cross at slack water. It is important to remember that slack water between Guernsey and Herm is at mid tide, not high and low water.
Herm Beer Festival
Although we crossed at slack water there was still enough movement to hold lobster pot buoys under the water.
Herm Beer Festival
As it was the largest tide of the year we had to lift the kayaks higher than normal. Jethou is the small island above the kayaks.
Herm Beer Festival
The first evening at the Beer Festival had a superb sunset. This is looking back towards Guernsey.
Herm Beer Festival
Paddling along the south coast of Jethou. Privately owned, it was leased in the early 1920’s by Compton MacKenzie, who later wrote “Whiskey Galore”.
Herm Beer Festival
The tide was running north so we sheltered in the eddy close to Brehon Tower. It was built between 1854 and 1856 at a cost of just over £8000. As we sat admiring the architecture a peregrine flew out of one of the windows, a pleasant surprise.
Herm Beer Festival
The entrance into Beaucette Marina was blasted out of the rock in 1969, which flooded an old quarry and created a fairly unique marina.
Herm Beer Festival
Lunch was taken at L’Ancresse, on the north coast of Guernsey.
Herm Beer Festival
Crossing back across the Little Russell towards Herm we were aware that the Condor Liberation was due out of St Peter Port. It is quite intimidating to see it so close and the amazing thing, is just how quiet it is.
Herm Beer Festival
A special mark on the east coast of Herm. Where else is there a navigation mark informing to keep belwo 6 knots because of puffins.
Herm Beer Festival
Dawn departure from Herm, 4 of us heading for Guernsey, whilst Jim and John were about to embark on the much longer crossing to Jersey, nearly 20 nautical miles away.
Herm Beer Festival
Arriving back into Guernsey after a few day delightful paddling and some lovely real ales, all thanks to the Herm Beer Festival