La Coupée, the causeway which joins big and little Sark, is about 100m long. It is a high ridge 80 metres (262 ft) above the sea which is only some three metres in width. This is gradually being eroded and Little Sark will eventually become an island (a similar process is likely to have occurred with Brecqhou close to Sark’s west coast).
Several small islets lie close to the shore of Little Sark. These include Moie de la Fontaine and Moie de la Bretagne on the west coast, Petite Baveuse, Moie du Port Gorey Seceuil and Bretagne Uset along the south coast, and Brenière on the east coast. Several tiny islets also lie in Baleine Bay, which stretches along much of the east coast of Little Sark and also the southeast coast of great Sark, and L’Etac de Sark and les Demies lie to the southeast of Little Sark.
Until the beginning of the twentieth century, access to Little Sark was extremely difficult or, at best, unnerving. La Coupée was traversed by a narrow dirt track, and children are reputed to have had to crawl across it on their hands and knees to prevent being blown over the edge by the wind. According to a description in 1875, “People have thrown themselves flat on their face, from terror and nervousness on reaching the Coupée; others have lost courage half way across, and have hidden themselves behind the heads of the rocks that crop up in the middle of the Coupée until some passer by came and led them along; others have been unable to get across without shutting their eyes and being led between two persons.” On 4 September 1802, Elie Guille of the Clos-à-Jaon was carrying sheaves of corn across La Coupée for the payment of tithes. He was blown over the East side and killed. After that the Seigneurs farmed out the collection of tithes in Little Sark to an individual in Little Sark who could settle the dues in cash. There were for a long time arguments between the inhabitants and the Seigneur over whose responsibility it was to maintain the path across La Coupée. In 1811 a landslip reduced the width of the path to no more than 3 feet. Finally in 1812 an act of agreement was signed between the parties to ensure every male inhabitant subject to the ordinary repairs of the road would give two days’ corvée to the La Coupée road and in return the Seigneur would guarantee to provide all remaining expenses. Following another landslip in 1862 on the Little Sark side a retaining wall was constructed so as to provide a foundation for a roadway 8-10 feet wide. However the narrowness of the path and the vertiginous drop were not the only things that made many wary of crossing La Coupée, especially at night, as the locality was reputed to be haunted. Strange moaning sounds or unearthly shrieks have been reported; however, these have been explained away as being due to the actions of wave and tide in La Caverne des Lamentes in the bay.
Protective railings were added to La Coupée in 1900. There is currently a narrow concrete road covering the entirety of the isthmus, built in 1945 by German prisoners of war under the direction of the Royal Engineers.
This is one of the most famous landmarks in Sark. Many visitors enjoy taking the road across, with spectacular views either side. Care must be taken with small children. Cyclists must dismount on the causeway, and all passengers on carriages must dismount.
There have been two landslips to the west side of La Coupée, which has made access to the beach below, La Grande Grève, difficult. The path has been rebuilt but it is not an easy climb and access is at the person’s own risk.
References: ‘Sark Coast and Cave’s by John F La Trobe Bateman
‘Sark Rocks’ by Felicity Belfield