La Rocco Tower

In the middle of St Ouen’s Bay, on the west coast of Jersey is La Rocco Tower. Although I think it is pretty safe to say that just about everybody who lives in Jersey will have seen it only a small percentage of residents will have set foot upon its ramparts.
Last Wednesday we paddled from Ouaisne along the cliffs of the southwest coast before running north to La Rocco Tower. Our picnic spot for the day. The initial problem is deciding where to land, there are a couple of suitable locations, the exact choice depending upon the wind and swell.
There was a brisk northerly breeze but fortunately only a slight westerly swell, which meant that selecting an appropriate landing place was not too difficult.  We did have to take into consideration that the tide was rising so launching may have been an issue but we managed to find two sites, which offered sheltered landings and it wasn’t’ long before we were heading into the walls which surround La Rocco Tower.
It was built in the last years of the 18th Century, at a cost of £400 and was the last of the towers of this design to be built, the later ones more accurately being described as Martello Towers.  In 1801 it was named Gordon’s Tower after the Lieutenant Governor of the time.  The tower was badly damaged and restored to its present condition in the early 1970’s.  Popular opinion states that it was damaged by German artillery during the Second World War but this probably not the case.  Possible a stray mine breached the sea defenses when it exploded and the sea did the rest.
Lunch was eaten in the shelter of the outer walls, protected from the north easterly wind.  The same wind that was going to surf us back towards Corbiere, when we launched.  It was an entertaining day, with our picnic in a location that virtually every resident and tourist has seen but very few have walked on.  Just another reason why sea kayaks are perfect for exploring our environment.
The tower is one of a number which are administered by Jersey Heritage and are available for rental but due to the location of La Rocco Tower there are quite a few restrictions depending on weather and sea state.  It is a great place for a picnic it must be amazing to spend the night there.

La Rocco Tower
Looking towards La Rocco Tower from the south east. Selecting a place to land was not straightforward as the tide was rising so we had to consider the prospects for launching.
La Rocco Tower
Steps have been cut into the shale to allow easier access to the tower.
La Rocco Tower
The steps lead to the ramparts , which surround the tower. We were looking for somewhere sheltered for lunch. The north easterly wind was fairly brisk at this point.
La Rocco Tower
The staircase into the tower is a beautiful spiral shape.  Lunch was taken around the the other side of the tower.
La Rocco Tower
The base of the tower sweeps gracefully skywards.
La Rocco Tower
The defenses on top of the tower are known as machicolations. La Rocco was the last tower built with these additions.
La Rocco Tower
Lunch time is over. John and Jim launching off the rocks. If it was a day with any swell this would be virtually impossible.