One of the more unusual characteristics of sea kayaking around the Jersey coastline are the significant numbers of Jersey Round Towers, which punctuate the coast at regular intervals. In 1781 a French force under the command of Baron de Rullecourt, landed at La Rocque, the south east corner of the island and marched as far as St Helier before being defeated in the Battle of Jersey, in the Royal Square. This was too close to French success for the authorities so they embarked on a programme of building coastal towers around the island.
Many of these towers survive and provide a historic backdrop to sea kayaking in Jersey’s coastal waters.
Seymour Tower, built in 1782, was the first tower to be built following the French invasion. In complete contrast to all the other Jersey Round towers it is square in shape. Built approximately 1 mile offshore it is a fascinating paddle when the tide is in, or walk on low water springs when the shore dries.
Nicky paddling out of Archirondel early one morning. We were actually on a photo shoot for Jersey tourism, who were keen to publicize the sea kayaking opportunities in Jersey . Our only venture into the world of modeling. The tower was completed in 1794 and in common with so many other towers around the island is now painted as a navigation mark.
The south east corner of the island with its shallow waters, sandy beaches and shelter from the prevailing wind was the favoured location for another French invasion. Built in the 1780’s it was one of many which helped to protect this section of coastline. In all 23 towers were built by Sir Henry Seymour Conway, who was Governor of the Island.
Not all of the towers have survived the passage of time. At L’Etacq a tower was blown up during the German occupation of the Second World War to make way for a bunker, which is now used by a local fisheries company.
Built offshore, in St Ouen’s Bay, La Rocco Tower is probably the most photographed of all the Jersey Towers and the last of Conway’s Towers to be built. When paddling around Jersey I generally leave from Corbiere, to gain maximum benefit from the tide and La Rocco is a welcome sight as it is less than a mile from the finish, with over 28 nautical miles already under your belt. A great feeling.