Whenever we go on holiday, we always seem to make the most of different types of transport. When we were in Jersey there were a variety of different transport options. Mostly we walked or got the Liberty Buses, but the train and amphibious ferry were on the agenda.
N was eyeing up the 4 wheeled and alternative bikes that were available for hire in St Helier along the promenade, but I persuaded him the train was better. So we spent an hour or so on one day, on the tourist train round to St Aubin. It was a lovely ride (if a little chilly – take a cardigan), and we were told all about the historic sites as we went. I’d have loved to have made it to the Glass Church with the Lalique decoration, and all the war history was interesting. The OH should have come to Jersey with us because he’d have loved to have done all the war tourist places.
When we were on the train, we’d spotted the ferry going across to Elizabeth Castle out in St Aubin’s bay. The tide was out and I quite fancied walking the causeway out to the castle one day we were there, but N decided we’d have to go on the ferry both directions.
So one morning we walked through the town and up to the ferry terminus. The tide was on its way out so we had to take the ferry over. Boarding passes in hand we were soon ready to board once the ferry pulled up for the ready passengers. If you’ve ever seen the duck bus in London, the amphibious bus, then the Elizabeth Castle ferry is similar.
All the passengers boarded, and we were off across the sands and bouncing over the shallow water. It wasn’t the most comfortable ride, and very difficult to take photos when you’re being jolted all over the place, but it was nice to try a different fun ride. N loved it, although we weren’t totally in the water for long.
We had a friendly welcome off the ferry once on the island as we were introduced to the castle grounds.
Visiting Elizabeth Castle
Like much of Jersey, Elizabeth Castle has an interesting history. The battlements date back to the 1590s when Sir Walter Raleigh was Governor of Jersey. It provided safety to King Charles II during the English Civil War, and has bunkers which were re-fortified to command the approaches by sea during the German Occupation in World War II. There’s also an eerily empty walk out from the island to the hermitage where the monk St Helier is thought to have lived around 550 A.D.
N isn’t one for listening to history, so we headed in along the walls and into the courtyard to explore further.
Cannons are always interesting to N although he was refusing to pose next to them for photos. But the view off the island is stunning. The sea really looked like it was stunning Mediterranean and not the grubby English Channel. We spent ages just looking out there.
We found battlements to climb and stone cubby holes to look into. N did moan a lot, but the promise of lunch and an ice cream was enough to keep him going.
At Elizabeth Castle there’s also a few inside exhibits, in buildings surrounding the large courtyard. You could just imagine it being a parade ground. We enjoyed seeing the different soldiers uniforms through the years, but N wasn’t so keen on the models (harking back to him saying he was scared on a lot of the holiday).
N was more interested in working out how cars and skip lorries could get over to the island. Given the causeway looked quite narrow, I could see how it was confusing.
By the time we’d finished looking round it was time for an ice cream and the little café was well stocked. With lunchtime fast approached I decided we’d miss the lunch rush and buy lunch so we could sit and eat it watching the Surgeon’s talk and parade in the courtyard. The choice of food was ok – we stuck with a kids lunchbox and sandwich, and the prices were as you’d expect in a tourist place.
Even though we were late for the start of the talk in the Courtyard, we found a bench to sit on with no problems as everyone else was crowding round in a circle to hear the actor talk. Until they realised it was a participation event for the men. It was interesting to hear how life would have been for soldiers on the island, although we didn’t stay for the whole talk. It was a boiling hot day, and we were flagging so it was time to head back on the ferry. It meant we missed the parade and cannons being fired which they do each day.
Elizabeth Castle was a really interesting place to visit, but like many other tourist spots on Jersey, it did feel a little old for N. I think for children who’ve started to learn more about history and are happy to listen, look and learn, and where they can tie in what they see with their school work, there’s some great historical sites to visit.
Are your children fans of castles? How do you keep them interested at tourist sites you want to visit?
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