My broken arm is preventing me sea kayaking but I am not going to let it stop me exploring the unique and beautiful coastline of Jersey.
Today as temperatures soared above 20 degrees we decided to visit a part of the island which I see virtually every day but which I hadn’t set foot on for probably 15 years. La Rocco Tower, located in the southern section of St Ouen’s Bay, is a distinctive landmark, which it is possible to walk to at low water on spring tides.
The tower was built between 1796 and 1801 and was named in honour Lieutenant General Gordon, who was Jersey’s Lieutenant Governor at the time. If you were to ask anybody in Jersey today as to the location of Gordon’s Tower I reckon 99.9% of the people would not know the answer. It is universally referred to as La Rocco Tower.
It was the last of the towers of this shape to be built on the island but suffered considerable damage during the middle of the 20th century. The common story is that the tower was damaged by German artillery fire during the Occupation but this is unlikely to be the real case. Bob Le Sueur has written a much more balanced review of the possible reasons for the damage. Whatever the cause of the damage was we do now for certain that the tower was rebuilt in the early 1970’s because of the efforts of a number of islanders who helped to raise the necessary funds to restore this iconic landmark.
So a broken arm is a major inconvenience from a kayaking perspective but it is allowing me to explore sections of the Jersey coastline which otherwise I might have ignored.
La Rocco in the distance, just before sunrise on a bitterly cold December morning.
Chris just to the south of La Rocco Tower on a much warmer day than the previous photograph.
The graceful curves of La Rocco Tower in the beautiful March sunshine
Looking back towards Le Braye slip.
These granite boulders would appear to be on the rocks as a result of the damage to the tower, from the 1940’s onwards. Not all of it as a result of German target practice, which is a popular story on the island.
Some of the granite blocks had clearly been worked on in the past by stone masons.
Steps had been cut into the shale outcrop to allow easier access on foot to the tower.
Viewed from the south it is a beautiful fortification, which was thankfully restored in the early 1970’s with many raised by public donations. Without the support of the islanders it is possible that all that would have been left is a pile of granite boulders.
Zooming in on the tower from the south on a day when there was a particularly large and aggressive November swell.
Looking north along St Ouen’s Bay. The western slopes of the island are coated by an unusual snow fall
Late afternoon as we walked around Petit Port headland we looked back towards La Rocco. Where two hours earlier we had been able to wander freely over the rocks and up to the tower, most was now under water. Spring tides in Jersey have a significant visual impact on the coastal scenery.