Herm in the Channel Islands
Herm is one of the smallest of the Channel Islands, and part of it's quaint attraction is that there are no cars and the only transport for most is their own two feet. Residents sometimes utilise Quad Bikes or Tractors when needed, but generally is is rare to see or hear any kind of motorised transport.
Although only a mile and a half long by half a mile wide, Herm has many beautiful walks to offer, as well as clean pollution free sandy beaches. This island truly is an idyllic paradise, safe and free from crowds and crime. The temperatures on Herm are usually slightly higher that those of the nearby islands such as Guernsey which is only three miles away, and it is extremely easy to get sunburnt during a day out visiting the island.
Images of Herm
History of Herm
Herm has an extensive history dating back to Pre 6th Century, and over the centuries has been the home of neolithic man, the Romans, the French, the English, various monks and even the Germans to name but a few. Evidence of this history in the form of ancient tombs, a chapel and remains of the several granite quarries can be found throughout the island.
Between 1570 and 1737 Herm was used as a location for the wealthy Governors of Guernsey to come and shoot, hunt and fish, and was therefore stocked with game birds, swans and rabbits. After this period the island went on to be leased as farmland, before being used for the quarrying of granite during the industrial revolution.
In 1889 Prince Blucher von Wahlstatt bought the island lease and tidied up the island, turning it into his own private haven. One of his children Count Lothair was born on the island and went on to marry Princess Wanda Radziwill, (of whom a Private Walk only open to residents of the White House Hotel is named after). Her Sister Princess Louise married the Prince's son Count Lothair, and the two couples resided on the island up until the outbreak of World War I.
The next resident to live on Herm was the novelist Compton Mackenzie who wrote much about the island, even incorporating it into his fictional work "Fairy Gold". He then sold the lease to Sir Percival Perry, chairman of theFord Motor Company who introduced a car to the island. Perry resided in the White House and made many improvements to the island including adding a golf course to the common.
This era came to an end at the start of the Second World War. All of the Channel Islands were occupied by the Germans, and the Third Reich took over Herm on the 20th July 1940. On the 9th of May 1945 Herm was liberated along with the other Channel Islands.
After the war Herm was granted to a tenant called Mr A G Jefferies to enable him to care for the island and ensure it was kept beautiful so that visitors could enjoy it. Mr Jefferies remained on Herm until 1949, at which point Peter and Jennie Wood took over the lease. The island has remained in their family up until 2008 when new people purchased the remaining 40 year lease for a price in the region of £15,000,000. The lease came with certain conditions, such as the continued access for people to visit and stay on the island in the future, as well as the continued employment of the existing staff that run the businesses on the island, e.g. the Mermaid Tavern, the White House Hotel and the Gift Shop.
The White House Hotel
The White House Hotel is the only hotel on Herm Island, and part of it's charm is down to the lack of televisions or telephones in the bedrooms, and a distinct lack of any clocks throughout the building. The service in this hotel is truly outstanding and the staff cannot seem to do enough for you. Many of the rooms feature balconies with stunning views. For those of you who prefer a bit more privacy the hotel can also offer self-catering cottages as an option.
The hotel conservatory restaurant has clear and perfect views out to sea allowing visitors to enjoy the distant lights of Guernsey's St Peter Port Harbour and town on the horizon. The food is superb and frequently includes fresh locally caught fish on it's menu, and the extensive wine list is very reasonably priced.
The White House is a luxury country style hotel, with private well maintained and beautiful gardens throughout it's grounds, as well as the Princess Radziwill's Walk only accessible to residents and featuring stunning views out to sea. There is a small swimming pool located in lawned semi-tropical gardens, with plenty of seating spread out around the garden itself.
Any luggage brought to the island is collected by the hotel staff from the boat and taken directly to your room. Upon your return the luggage will also be delivered and loaded back on to the boat for you.
Having stayed for one night in the hotel very recently I can genuinely say I was incredibly impressed and can't wait to return again. Even in just 24 hours I found myself completely relaxed, and enjoying sipping red wine on our hotel balcony overlooking the pool and the sea.
Live Images from Herm's White House can be viewed by going to their Webcams at the following links:
The White House Hotel and Gardens
Views of Herm
Camping is also an option on Herm, and the Seagull Camp Site has made it to the top 50 campsites in the British Isles according to the Guardian Newspaper's Guide to Camping. The site itself is very picturesque and nearby to a lovely cliff path to Belvoir Bay.
Groceries can be ordered in advance of your arrival, and there is top up shopping available from the island shop. You may either hire tents, or bring your own, the choice is yours.
The nearby island of Jethou is privately leased by Sir Peter Ogden of Cumputacenter and is no longer open to visitors. The island has two cottages and one house plus a helipad to enable easy travel on and off the island.
Jethou has an extensive history of it's own dating back to pre-history and has had many tenants over the years, including Lt Colonel Montague Fielden who in the late 1800's was discovered storing smuggled Brandy on the island, whilst in the late 1940s to 1950s Lt Colonel Withycombe, the then tenant was raided by Guernsey Police for serving alcohol in the island's cafe after hours.
Views from Herm to the Neighbouring Island of Jethou
Views from Herm to Guernsey
The Mermaid Tavern
The Mermaid Tavern in Herm is a popular destination for visitors and is situated only a couple of minutes walk from the harbour. This quaint tavern provides an olde world style interior as well as a newly built separate Brasserie, plus quick and easy bar meals. Snacks are available from the outside cafeteria. The Tavern also has a small grocery shop to provide for the locals and the visitors staying on the campsites.
The tavern can also offer a top deck area for private functions and a 50 seater restaurant.
Be aware that from November until March the opening times are restricted so it is best to check with the Mermaid on opening times before you come across.
The Mermaid Tavern
The Gift Shop
Herm's Gift Shop is a regular Aladdin's Cave, and I challenge anyone not to be able to find something in this shop either for themselves, or as a gift to take home to friends or family. It is very easy to lose an hour in the shop simply marvelling at the wonderful items they have come up with to sell in the place, including old fashioned sweets such as Cinder Toffee and Barley Sugars, Guernsey fudge, home made preserves such as jam and marmalade, clothing, amusing attractive three dimensional resin fridge magnets with such expressions on as, "I am on a Gin and Tonic Diet, so far I have lost 2 days!", carved wooden ornaments of Dolphins and other creatures, books, clocks etc. Fabulous fun shop to spend time in.
The Herm Gift Shop
Travelling To Herm
Herm is reached by catching the Trident from Guernsey. This boat runs regularly throughout the day, usually leaving from Cambridge Steps or from the Harbour in St Peter Port Guernsey. The journey is only about 20 minutes long and will arrive either at Herm Harbour or Rosaire Steps depending on the tides.
The Trident Leaving Rosaire Steps
Walking Around Herm
The circular walk around Herm will take around two hours for a fairly active person, but there are plenty of sights to see and opportunities to rest or relax during your walk, including the ancient St Tugual Chapel, Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay. The walk is very pretty and you really should take a camera with you.
Providing your dogs are not from outside of the UK you may also take them onto Herm via the Trident and be sure they will have a fantastic walk whilst they are there.
The South end of Herm also offers spectacular cliff walks that should not be missed.
Sea fishing is also a popular pastime in Herm and basic sea fishing tackle can be purchased from the Gift Shop, or you may take your own with you.
The Start of Your Walk Around Herm
Herm Beaches and Anchoring your own Boats.
The main beaches used on Herm other than by the harbour itself, are Shell Beach and Belvoir Bay. These beaches are unspoilt and very clean, so please keep them that way. Radios and music are not permitted on the beaches.
You may sail your own boats to Herm, but should follow the advice and legal requirements as to how and where you moor your boats.
The Manor House
The Manor House on Herm is occupied by the current leaseholders at any given point of time, and is therefore not open to the general public.
The Herm Manor House
Nearby Brecqhou Island Owned by the "Barclay" Twins.
A Video of Herm Island
© 2008 Cindy Lawson