Cycling in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
Cycling in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
Although Guernsey is second to Jersey in terms of individual size, the Bailiwick of Guernsey also incorporates the other three significant Channel Islands of Alderney, Sark and Herm. In any case, Guernsey itself is ripe for exploring by bike, with a network of peaceful cyclist-friendly lanes, paths and as well as some stunning sea views.
Guernsey also has a selection of 11 official cycle routes — 10 of which are circular — ranging from flat western and northern coastal rides to quiet country lanes and leafy valleys. All of these use smooth-surfaced roads and start from a carpark, should you want to drive to their start. Perfect for tourists, they have also been designed to take in many of the island’s visitor attractions as well as refreshment stops.
While it’s relatively easy to take your own bike to Guernsey thanks to the Condor fast ferry service from Poole, the same cannot be said for Alderney or Sark. Alderney is most easily visited via Aurigny’s small island-hopping aircraft, while Sark can only be reached by very small passenger ferries. However, both islands have a choice of fine cycle hire providers and are well worth the effort of visiting (and cycling around).
Alderney is the most northernly of the Channel Islands and sits just eight miles from the French coast. Despite being little more than three miles long and one mile wide, the island has a small town and a huge amount of historic interest, including evidence of pre-history, Roman times and, more recently, Nazi occupation. Lighthouse spotters will find the island’s 100ft tall lighthouse a rare treat, too!
For cyclists, Sark is arguably the true unspoilt gem of the Channel Islands, with no cars on the island at all and transport options limited to tractor, horse and cart, walking or bicycle. Proving that good things really do come in small packages, Sark is a magical little place to visit — even other Channel Islanders are fascinated by its novelty.
And what about Herm? Don't even think about cycling there — bicycles are banned!
Cycling groups and clubs in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
Guernsey Bicycle Group
What to take with you on your ride
The only thing you really need for cycling is a bike. And maybe a phone, and credit card: even in the Channel Islands you’re only a call away from any service you might need.
But unless money is no object, it’s wise to take a few things with you on a day ride. A saddlebag, panniers or bikepacking bags are best for carrying stuff. A front basket is second best. A rucksack is third best. Your sweaty back will soon tell you why.
Cycling short distances in jeans and t-shirt is fine, but on a long or strenuous ride – over ten miles say, or in hills – those jeans will rub and the t-shirt will get damp and clingy. Shorts or, yes, lycra leggings and padded shorts will be much comfier, and merino or polyester cycling tops wick away the sweat, keeping you dry and comfy(they don’t have to be lurid colours).
If rain’s in the air, pack a rainproof top. If it might turn chilly, take a fleece or warm top. But the thing you’re most likely to forget is the sunblock.
It’s remarkable how often you enjoy being out on the bike so much that you suddenly realise it’s getting dark. So take lights (which are legally required at night). They can cost as much as a sandwich, take no space, are easy to put on thanks to tool-free plastic clips, and the batteries last for ever.
Take a puncture repair kit (with tyre levers) and pump. Make sure it fits your valves, which will be either ‘Presta’ or ‘Schrader’ – realising they don’t match is a very common roadside discovery! Carrying a spare inner tube (make sure it matches your tyre size - the size is written on the side of the tyre) makes puncture repair much easier: mend the old one back at home. If you do get in trouble, some kindly passing cyclist will probably stop to help.
Using a helmet is a personal choice – they’re not legally required.
Cycling makes you thirsty, so take lots of water. Long-distance riders talk about ‘the bonk’ – a sudden loss of energy rendering you almost stationary. It’s miraculously and instantly cured by eating something sweet. On short rides you’re unlikely to run out of energy, but just in case, take a snack like flapjack, banana, chocolate or jelly babies.
Taking a packed lunch or picnic will save you money, though that hot drink and cake in a cosy cafe could yet prove very tempting!
Your phone GPS could be invaluable for showing where you are when lost; you can download free detailed UK maps and GPS software before your trip.
Paper maps and a compass are still useful, though, so take one: no power source or wifi signal required, and they’re great for suggesting possibilities or changes of plan.
What have we missed? Let us know your favourite routes by leaving a comment below.
Cycling routes in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark
Guernsey's 11 official cycle routes plus handy maps for the other islands