South West Delights

Although this is the closest stretch of coast to where I live, it seems to have been quite some time since I last spent a day exploring this area of Jersey so it was a real pleasure to be on the water on Saturday.  Heading out from St Brelade’s Bay we headed along the base of the south west cliffs towards Corbiere, before popping into St Ouen’s Bay for some lunch on the offshore reefs.
This is a section of the Jersey coast, which I have paddled hundreds of times but there is always something to discover whatever the season.
Paddling into a feature which we known as Junkyard Gully.  At the rear of the inlet there is a large blow hole into which was thrown a lot of scrap metal and cars in the 1930’s and 40’s.
Laurie passing to the south of Corbiere Lighthouse, a significant landmark, which dominates the south west corner of the island.  There was a bit of swell around and some tidal movement but it was a relatively calm day.
 Heading south past Corbiere after stopping for lunch in the reefs to the west of La Pulente.  A bit chilly but it is October.
 Louis looking as if he is having a good time.
Louis and Rachel playing in the small race which was developing to the west of Corbiere.
Along this section of coast there are some many great jumping spots.  This flat topped rock, known as “Table Top”, is at Gorselands.  Laurie is in mid air whilst Simone is considering his options.
Just before Beauport we were able to take a short cut through the reef at the Grosse Tete.   This is known as Conger Gully, mainly because of the stories we tell younger people whilst we are out coasteering along this section of coast.

Corbiere Lighthouse

Corbiere Lighthouse
Approaching Corbiere from the east. This is generally the first view of the lighthouse when kayaking from St Brelade.

Corbiere Lighthouse on the South West tip of Jersey, is possibly the best known landmark on the Island as well as being a superb sea kayaking venue.  Although it is automatic it is still immaculate with the interior brass polished every week and the paintwork maintained regularly.

Corbiere Lighthouse

It is no surprise that there is a lighthouse at this spot, the jagged rocks pierce the sea and the currents are strong during both the ebb and flood, before it was built there were many wrecks and also many stories of wreckers luring boats in to shore by hanging lamps on the horns of their cows to simulate lights on fishing boats.
The lighthouse was built in 1874 at a cost of £8000 which also included the causeway and lighthouse keepers cottages on the mainland.  It is made from reinforced concrete blocks made on site with local sand and pebbles brought to the bottom of the lighthouse by a small railway built for the purpose. It is the earliest reinforced concrete lighthouse to be built in the world. It was designed by the consulting engineer to the States of Jersey Harbours and Piers Committee Sir John Coode and it was built by the States engineer Imrie Bell.
The original light was lit by paraffin and it can still be seen there today along with the brass ventilation panels around the light.  With reflectors this lamp could be seen up to 17 miles away.  Now this has been replaced by a 1000 watt electric bulb.
Before the fog horn was built ships were warned by a bell which still hangs from the top of the light.  The original fog horn was run from an engine room where compressed air was piped to the horns.  This was started manually by the lighthouse keepers.  This is now done automatically by light sensors and electricity.

Corbiere Lighthouse
The original bell

The lighthouse was last manned in 1973, before this two keepers would do 2 days on and 2 days off walking back to the mainland during the low tide to the lighthouse cottages across the causeway.  This was not a job which would suit every one but for those who were lighthouse keepers it was probably the best job in the world and it was a sad day when they all became automatic.
On the slipway there is a granite plaque commemorating the tragic drowning of Peter Edwin Larbalestier, an assistant lighthouse keeper, on the 28th May 1946, as he tried to rescue a visitor cut off by the tide.  It is a clear warning to those who pass by.
During the Second World War the lighthouse was switched off for the majority of the time and it was re-lit on the 19th May 1945 and to this day it has remained an essential part of marine safety in Channel Island waters.

Corbiere Lighthouse
Chris just to the south of the lighthouse, on a day when there was a bit of movement in the water.
Corbiere Lighthouse
A calm summers evening with the ferry returning to England.
Corbiere Lighthouse
The classic perspective from the land but in unusual weather conditions.
Corbiere Lighthouse
A winters storm. Not ideal for sea kayaking!
Corbiere Lighthouse
Approaching Corbiere from the north just after dawn in December. A winter anticyclone had suppressed the swell allowing us to explore the western reefs.
Leaving Corbiere to head back to St Brelade. There was a bit of swell running which created entertaining conditions.
Corbiere Lighthouse
Looking out across the causeway. There is a horn to warn walkers that the causeway is about to be flooded.
Corbiere Lighthouse
The inevitable sunset shot. This is why some evenings in excess of a hundred people may congregate on the headland overlooking Corbiere Lighthouse.