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sark channel island
Sark (Image by falco from Pixabay)

Sark


Sark is the smallest of the four main Channel Islands. It lies in the English Channel, about 128 km from England and about 32 km from the coast of Normandy. It is as well that it is small, as there are no cars on the island, and transport other than on foot consists of horse drawn carriages, tractors and bicycles.

Sark's history is long, and complex. Until the mid 16th century it was a place of pirates, frequently invaded by the French. In 1563, Helier de Carteret, the Seigneur of St Ouen in Jersey, received a charter from Elizabeth I to settle on Sark. Many of the island's laws date back to this period, and the feudal head of Sark is still known as the Seigneur.

The island is formed of steep, rocky cliffs, averaging about 90 m above sea level, rising to a central plateau. At its highest point a windmill can be found, dated 1571. In order to reach this plateau, passengers disembarking in the miniscule harbor must travel upwards through a rock-hewn tunnel made in 1866.

Greater Sark is connected to Little Sark by a narrow, paved isthmus known as La Coupee. Just  2.7 m wide, it has dizzying 90 m drops to either side. La Seigneurie, de Carteret's manor house built in 1565, is believed to stand on the site of an early Christian monastery. Although privately owned, its gardens, some of the finest in the Channel Islands, are open to the public.

This is a delightful island, with gorgeous sandy beaches and coves around the coast, ensuring shelter from winds of any direction. There are woods filled with springtime bluebells, and over 600 different plants and wildflowers grow here. Seabirds nest on the cliffs, and birds of prey, songbirds and migrants enjoy its unspoilt landscape.

  • Sark Prison - built in 1856 and capable of accommodating only two people, this is the smallest prison in the world.