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Pleinmont Headland is the southwestern corner of Guernsey, where the rugged cliffs of the south coast begin to give way to the flatter terrain and sandy beaches of the west coast. A walk around the headland takes in impressive and futuristic looking WW2 German Naval observation towers and offers great views of Les Hanois Lighthouse and Lihou Island, as well as the chance to see Jersey and the French Coast on very clear days. This circular walk is a great option for a relaxed but feature-filled stroll on a clear day, particularly if you’re only visiting us for a short break and are trying to see as much of Guernsey as possible in a limited time, without rushing yourself. Lihou Island and the Fort Grey Shipwreck Museum are also very close by, if you fancy making the most of a visit over to the west coast.
From the small car park and kiosk at the end of the road at Portelet, set off west along the paved pedestrian road that skirts the back of Portelet beach and the small break wall that protects the small fishing boats. Pass the barrier that prevents cars from going any futher and follow the road around and out towards Fort Pezeries which sits on a spur small spur jutting out northwards towards Lihou Island and L’Eree Headland on the other side of Rocquaine Bay. On the flat grassy area behind the fort here you will see the “Fairy Ring”, or Table des Pions, a ring of stones and a shallow circular trench that has various superstitions attached to it however is actually a 300 year old picnic bench used during inspections of the islands paths and coastal defences up until 1837.
From the Fairy Ring take the path heading southwest up the steep hill towards a derelict square fort that sits on the top of the headland. Approximately a mile and a half offshore from here sits Les Hanois Lighthouse, which will be the subject of an upcoming Explore article here. Just in front of the derelict fort a path runs down to the coast path, and you should follow this south along the top of the cliff. You will pass a Second World War German tower, Marine Peilstand 3 which was used by the German Navy for direction and range-finding for their coastal defence batteries, and which is now open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays from March to October between 2 and 5pm, although if you definitely want to take a look inside then it is worth double checking the opening schedule in advance with the Occupation Museum. Admission costs £2.50 for adults and £1.50 for children. Carrying on along the cliff path, you pass the remains of a watch house (which featured in Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea) and a German gun emplacement, before arriving at a small cliff-top car park. Here we follow the road (Rue de la Trigale) inland, back across the headeland to complete the circuit. Turn left, then left again on to Route du Crolier which becomes Rue des Valniquets as it bears right. To return to the start point at Portelet you can either follow this road to the bottom of the hill, which will bring you out next to the Imperial Hotel from where you can turn left along the sea front, or part way down the hill you can take a left hand fork and then after a short uphill climb take the path to your right signposted “To Portelet Bay” on an easy to miss granite block. Follow this path down through the trees, taking care if it is muddy, and you will emerge on a paved road that will continue downhill to the kiosk and car park at Portelet Bay.