Walking on the Sea Bed

Friday was a big tide, in fact a very big tide.  The tidal range of 11.8 metres resulted in a significant movement of water.  As it approached low tide we were able to go walking on the sea bed.
We met at La Rocque Harbour, the south east corner of the Island.  Unfortunately the blue skies and sunshine from the west coast were replaced by an approaching fog.  It was rolling in from the sea and obscuring all the physical features.
Icho Tower was about 1.5 miles away, the benefits of GPS ensuring that we had this information, but at times we could see less than a hundred metres.  Heading so far offshore in the fog requires confidence in your navigation abilities.  So for the first time in nearly 60 years of living in Jersey, when walking I had to walk on a compass bearing to ensure that we found our planned destination, Icho Tower.

Walking on the sea bed
Our departure point. La Rocque Harbour, with the fog starting to roll in from the sea.
Walking on the sea bed
Leaving La Rocque, at this moment our feet were still relatively dry! We were already walking on a compass bearing by this time.
Walking on the sea bed
As we headed across the beach there were a number of water filled gullies. They became increasingly deep, so the optimism of dry feet from wearing wellington boots, was changed into flooded boots and wet socks.

Icho Tower appeared out of the mist, when we were less than 100 metres away, according to the GPS.  The tower was built in 1811, part of the coastal defenses designed to protect the Island from possible French invasion.  It is easily seen whilst driving along the coastal road at Le Hocq but visiting on foot is restricted to the larger spring tides.  We decided to have lunch in the hope that the water retreated from the deeper gullies before we headed east towards Seymour Tower.

Walking on the sea bed
Icho Tower gradually appeared from the mist. We were within a 100 metres before we could see anything for definite.
Walking on the sea bed
As we had lunch on the rocks at Icho Tower the fog was gradually thinning and visibility improving.
Walking on the sea bed
As we walked between Icho Tower and Seymour Tower the visibility improved and the sun came out.
Walking on the sea bed
Approaching Seymour Tower after the sun finally came out.

Seymour Tower is unique among the defensive towers, which are found around the coast of Jersey, in that it is square.  It was built in 1782, a direct consequence of the 1781 invasion, which resulted in the Battle of Jersey.  Today it is a unique place to stay overnight, with bookings available through Jersey Heritage.  It lies at the heart of the RAMSAR site, situated off the south east corner of Jersey.

Walking on the sea bed
Sitting on the platform in front of Seymour Tower, the views to the south were amazing. Such a privilege to live on such a special Island.
Walking on the sea bed
Looking back towards Jersey from the steps on Seymour Tower, the coast is just visible through the hazy conditions. At this point we were only about half way towards the low tide mark. The sea really does retreat over the horizon.
Walking on the sea bed
This screen shot from the ViewRanger App shows our route. Friday’s route is shown in red whilst the black route is our walk on the last large spring tide.

The screen shot above, really does indicate that we were walking on the sea bed.  As the tide drops, particularly on the larger spring tides, a unique coastal environment is exposed.  A great place to explore but somewhere, which needs accurate planning to avoid being cut off by the tide.

The Towers

There are a few paddles in Jersey, which visiting and local sea kayakers, should aspire to complete.  One of these is to paddle around, what is referred to as “The Towers”.  This refers to two towers, which are located to the south east of the island, Seymour and Icho.
The Jersey Canoe Club has run weekly Sunday morning sessions for nearly 45 years and this week it was the turn of The Towers, to be the venue.  Weather and tidal conditions were such that quite a few members had guessed the venue several days in advance, well before the WhatsApp message was sent out, on the Saturday.

Seymour and Icho Towers

Of the two towers Seymour is the oldest, being built in 1782, the year after French troops landed nearby, which resulted in the Battle of Jersey.  Our initial target was Icho Tower, just over 1 mile offshore.  Low an squat compared to the older towers, it is based on the design of towers found at Mortella Point, Corsica.
They probably contained a garrison of 12 soldiers and a sergeant, but today they are largely the preserve of sea birds.  Today it was curlews and sandwich terns but some winters a spoonbill has started to call Icho home.
From Icho we headed virtually east towards Seymour, the final push of the flooding tide ensured that at times our speed over the ground was nearly 6 knots.  Seymour Tower has been refurbished and is available for rent from Jersey Heritage, accompanied by a guide.  Today a family was in residence so landing was not an option.
Instead we turned offshore to visit Karame Beacon, which is one of the many navigation marks in the area.  The tide was flowing with a degree of speed around the rocks, which provided some enjoyment.  From there it was a ferry glide in excess of a mile into the coast at La Rocque, a small harbour with signicant place in Jersey’s history.  Baron Philippe de Rullecourt, landed here on the 6th January 1781, with approximately 1,400 French troops.  The subsequent Battle of Jersey, in the Royal Square resulted in the defeat of the French forces.
Returning from the towers, we followed the coast back towards Le Hocq.  Conditions were just perfect, in fact quite amazing for the beginning of September.  Conditions were such that we had to stop and roll, as well as having a swim in the crystal clear waters.  It will be possibly 9 months, before we experience such conditions again.  Great memories to help us through the winter months.

Jersey Towers
Briefing before departure from Le Hocq. It was a stunning morning which goes some way to explain the 22 Club members who turned up on Sunday morning.
The Towers
Off the three towers we saw up close today, Icho is the youngest, dating from 1810.
The Towers
Seymour is the oldest of the towers we paddled past. It has been refurbished by Jersey Heritage, and is available for rental. There were residents staying today.
The Towers
We headed offshore to pay a visit to Karame, one of the many navigation marks in the area. The coast of Jersey is visible as a thin line in the distance, next week on the large spring tides it will be possible to walk here. Evidence of the tidal range found in this area.
The Towers
After a ferry glide, of over 1 nautical mile, we reached La Rocque harbour, where the French troops landed in Jaunuary 1781, before marching into St Helier, which resulted in the Battle of Jersey.
The Towers
A superb morning paddle of 7 nautical miles. Arriving back at Le Hocq it would have been rude not to practice some rolling and to have a swim. Especially as the water temperature was nearly 19 degrees.