Thursday, March 01, 2012

Belle Hougue

Belle Hougue is possibly the most dramatic headland on Jersey and offers superb sea kayaking for the discerning paddler.  The tide race, which forms on the ebb is probably my favourite on the whole island.
It is the tallest headland in Jersey and a considerable race develops here on both the flood and the ebb.  If there is any swell running then the waves can break heavily over the offshore reefs.  The area around Les Sambues is probably the most interesting for those in search of white water excitement.  Fast moving water pours around the rocks when they are uncovered and stationary surfing waves form when they are submerged.   
In close at Belle Hougue there are numerous passages to be explored and at the western edge of the headland is Belle Hougue cave.  Access is difficult from the land and when it was first known to have been entered, in 1914, it contained stalagmites and stalactites.  Inside there have also been discovered the antlers, teeth and bones of a small species of deer which is unknown anywhere else.  Belle Hougue is a dramatic and awe inspiring location which demands respect in certain wind and tidal conditions.  It is also often the first place that the effect of the swell can be felt when you are paddling west along the north coast.

 Seen from close to Bonne Nuit, the small harbour to the west.  The coastal footpath is clearly visible descending diagonally
 Start to surf on the front wave.  Tour de Rozel is the headland visible in the distance.
This photograph was taken in the same place as the one above but on a day with different water and light conditions.
Looking west towards the main headland.  Belle Hougue cave is close to the base of the cliffs where the obvious skyline reaches the water.
 Threading through the channels close in shore.  On days with a big swell this area is beyond the entertainment level of most kayakers!
A moody winters morning.
 Belle Hougue seen from above just after take from Jersey.
Belle Hougue is one of those headlands which I never tire of paddling around.  The water is often entertaining even on the calmest summer days.

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