You’ve probably heard of Jersey and Guernsey out in the Channel Islands, but their lesser-known sister Sark is well worth making the trek out to.
The first few steps off the boat are almost into another world – one where there are no street lamps or cars and there’s a breathtaking natural wonder on every corner. Getting there isn’t as straightforward as stepping on a plane, as you’ll have first have to fly to Guernsey and catch a ferry over, but trust us – it’s worth it.
A trip to Sark feels like stepping back in time. Until 2008, Sark was governed under Europe’s last remaining feudal system – a set of rules, based on Norman law, followed for more than 400 years. There are no cars or street lights (remember to pack a torch), so to get around your options are horse and cart, bicycle or boot. Tractors are the only form of motorised vehicle – the ‘toast rack’ tractor chugs up and down the steep hill, taking passengers through a leafy tunnel of trees from the little harbour to the island’s chocolate-box settlement, known simply as the The Village.
Whenever I’ve been promised that a place is ‘just a dot on the map’, it usually ends up feeling like something of a misnomer. You go along imagining a wild outcrop fringed by picturesque beaches that you can walk around in day, and end up in a place with an international airport and three separate outposts of Starbucks.
In the case of Sark, it really feels accurate. Just half a mile across and three miles from end-to-end, this charming spot is genuinely so small that you almost feel like you could roll it up and take it home.
And yes, it really does feel like a wild outcrop, and the beaches are breathtaking. On a sunny day with the wind blowing, the puffins sheltering in the hillsides and the dolphins playing off-shore, there’s nothing quite like it.