It’s only April, but my face is slightly suntanned and I’m feeling very happy, because I’ve just returned from a motorhome break in Jersey. It was glorious and I’d urge you to visit the largest of our beautiful Channel Islands sometime, too.
I drove the Benimar Mileo 231, a comfortable two-berth coachbuilt motorhome with a fixed corner bed and corner washroom in the rear. My colleague Bryony towed a caravan and we were booked on Liberation, Condor’s new fast Poole to Jersey ferry on a Saturday 9.30am crossing. We arrived more than an hour early, thanks to a quick overnight stop at South Lytchett Manor Caravan and Camping Park, just down the road.
At Poole Harbour we watched cars and small ‘vans being waved through, and wondered why we’d been ushered to a lane all to ourselves at the port. Finally, pink-faced Condor Ferries staff admitted that the new boat’s rising deck was refusing to stay up that day, so only vehicles up to 2.2m tall could get on. Their measuring sticks confirmed that the compact, sub-6m-long, Ducato-based Benimar was almost 2.9m tall.
So that’s how our adventure began! We drove to Portsmouth and went to St Malo with Brittany Ferries on Saturday night, then caught a fast Condor ferry back to Jersey! Luckily we’d both packed passports, just in case.
Even on this ferry, the Condor staff had to direct me carefully to do the required U-turn on the car deck, avoiding hitting the light fittings and sprinklers with the Benimar’s fixed aerial.
We drove off the ferry onto Jersey on Sunday afternoon and set off for the campsite. Roads on Jersey are notoriously narrow and twisty, many of them being ‘green lanes’ with a bit of tarmac and no central markings. It was fine for me, driving a motorhome with a reversing camera.
A big plus is that the speed limit is 30mph on most roads, or 40mph on some A-roads. You won’t use much fuel on the island, which is five miles long and nine miles wide. And when you do refuel, you’ll have a lovely surprise – diesel and petrol are much cheaper in the Channel Islands than on the mainland. Fill up your tank, but don’t try to take fuel off the island in containers, because there are checks at the port!
You must book your campsites and ferries before you go to Jersey, so that they can arrange permits allowing you to drive your motorhome on Jersey. Wild camping is not permitted – and my permit was checked at the port.
I took the A2 and A1 from St Helier port to Daisy Cottage Campsite and Retreat in St Ouen, in the north-west of the island. On the way, I took a detour to see the long sandy beaches of the west coast, parked among the sand dunes of the Grande Route des Mielles coast road and enjoyed my first ice-cream cone of the year – complete with chocolate flake!
Daisy Cottage Campsite and Retreat is quite small and very pretty. It has new hot showers, toilets and washbasins, washing-up sinks and electric hook-ups. The islanders store their motorhomes in one field over the winter, and we were the only visitors staying this early in the year.
The owners, Les and Michelle Stanton, also offer glamping retreat holidays in bell tents and a shepherd’s hut. All year, people come for yoga, meditation, relaxing massages and the café. We enjoyed being surrounded by subtle solar lights, willow fences and Buddha statues, but to relax we chose to have a barbecue under the dazzling stars. Luckily the friendly campsite dog Hans had gone to bed before we started sizzling steaks and sausages!
We also visited Beuvelande Campsite in St Martin, the largest campsite on the island, which has been awarded five pennants by the AA. Owners Danny and Alice are young parents and this shows, because there’s a good children’s play area, TV shed and outdoor pool. There are around 100 pitches with electric hook-ups, great facilities and a large restaurant/bar with comfortable outdoor seating within a pretty terrace with a roof.
Glamping is also on offer here and I had a peek inside a huge teepee with a king-sized bed and bunting. Beuvelande Campsite has a good shop selling sweets, ice-creams and essentials, too.
We toured as much of Jersey as we could, going from St Ouen to St Helier, round to Gorey Harbour in the east and Rozel in the north-east side of the island.
We went horse riding in the north of the island, bought Jersey Royal potatoes from a farm shop and also explored the Jersey War Tunnels tourist attraction.
The War Tunnels bring the German Occupation of Jersey to life in an extremely imaginative and poignant way. Our timing was perfect, too. The whole island is set to erupt in celebrations and parties on 9 May 2015, the 70th anniversary of the islands’ liberation from the German Occupation. There are so many things to do on Jersey that I know I’ll have to go back again. Next time I want to visit Rozel Camping Park in St Martin, The Durrell Wildlife Park, Jersey Pearl, the Lalique glass church and more.
We were sad to leave Jersey behind, and just for the record the new Condor Ferries boat behaved perfectly on the way home.
So if you’re wondering where to go for a quick break in your campervan, why not put camping in Jersey on your list of great holidays?
When you do refuel, you’ll have a lovely surprise – diesel and petrol are much cheaper in the Channel Islands