Walking Route 4 – Little Sark
From the Visitor Centre turn left on to Mill Lane. At the start of Mill Lane lies Le Manoir, the home of Sark’s Seigneurs between 1565 and 1730. The main house bears the coat of arms, four diamonds, of our original Seigneur, Helier de Carteret. The cottages adjoining, leading up to the Cider Barn, are thought to have been the servants’ quarters and the Cider Barn would likely have been the chapel.
Continue along Mill Lane to the Seigneurial mill, originally built in 1571 and bearing Helier de Carteret’s coat of arms above the door. The Seigneur was the only person on the island legally entitled to mill the grain and he charged his tenants for the privilege of milling theirs. The mill was in use until the Second World War but when the Germans occupied Sark, they removed the sails to use as fuel and turned the Mill into a lookout post.
Walking past the Seigneurial mill to La Vauroque Crossroads, turn left at the crossroads, following the signs to Little Sark. Stay on this road all the way to La Coupee, passing Caragh Chocolates along the way (a perfect pit stop for a drink and some delicious local handmade chocolates).
La Coupee is the unmistakable narrow isthmus (causeway) connecting Sark to Little Sark. It is made of sedimentary rock which is slowly being eroded by the sea. Until 1900 there were no railings over La Coupee and on windy days, school children living in Little Sark would crawl on their hands and knees over La Coupee to attend school. After the Second World War, German prisoners of war under the supervision of a British Engineering regiment, erected the railings which span the entire length of La Coupee on both sides. During the Occupation, the German forces split Grande Greve beach below into three sections: one for the officers, one for regular soldiers and the other for locals. Most of the locals were too indignant to lie on the beach and found it slightly odd watching the scantily clad German army on the beach.
Continue over La Coupee into Little Sark, staying on this road until you reach La Sablonnerie Hotel. Turn left, walking past La Sablonnerie Tea Gardens on the right (the beautiful gardens are a perfect setting to take a quick break and grab a bite to eat), continuing along this road past a small group of Sark cottages until you reach a gate signposted “silver mines/Venus Pool”. Do not take the path down to the right but walk straight on, walking towards the two large chimneys lying in front of you.
The chimneys are from the days of the silver mines. Silver and copper was found in seams underground in Little Sark and between 1836 and 1847, Little Sark looked entirely different. It was home to a large workforce of Cornish miners and their families. There were 4 shafts with 8 galleries, one gallery extended out below the sea bed at Port Gorey. Miners reported that when the sea conditions were rough, they could hear big boulders being thrown around the seabed above them. The shafts were up to 180 feet deep and had a series of ladders on wooden platforms in order to get up and down the shaft. It was not unheard of for tired miners to slip off the ladders, falling to their death.
The chimneys, originally thought to be ventilation chimneys used to clean the air in the galleries, are revealed in David Synnott’s book Silver Mining on Sark to discharge smoke from the coal fired boilers.
The cost of the silver mines was immense. They required large pumps to keep the galleries clear of water and more and more capital was invested into the mines. In 1845 one of the richer galleries flooded and collapsed, killing 10 miners. The cost of the mines finally led to the financial ruin of Seigneur Ernest Le Pelley who was forced to mortgage the fief of Sark. When Ernest died in 1849 his son Pierre was unable to repay the debts and sold the fief.
Walking past the first chimney continue on the path through some gorse hedging. As the path opens out there is a bench on the right overlooking L’Etac with the headland before you. L’Etac is home to puffins, guillemots, razorbills and shags. From this point, if you look behind you and to the right you can see the ancient dolmen.
[If you wish to visit Venus Pool, please do so two hours either side of low tide only and refer to our leaflet ‘Finding the elusive Venus Pool’.]
From the bench, take the higher path to the right, follow it around all the way to the wooden barrier above Port Gorey. Stay on this path so that Port Gorey is on your left and the chimneys are above you to the right.
Port Gorey was used as the small port from which to carry the silver out of Sark and to bring in the coal to keep the engines running and the water out of the galleries.
At the junction, with 3 paths in front of you, take the 2nd path. After approximately 50 yards follow the paths up some steps and over the stile at the top of the steps. On the left you will see Port Gorey. Before you reach the next stile, take a moment to look back to see the ruins of the old silver mine offices, smelter (used to separate the ore from the metal) and tramway running down from the shaft past the offices and the smelter to the quay (a small railway used to carry the ore).
Step over the stile and follow the path as it meanders over the Adonis headland. Where the path diverges, take the path right, continue until you reach the kissing gate. Go through the kissing gate and walk straight on to the large metal gate and through the gate, following the farm track to the next metal gate next to a small stone barn. Through the gate and follow the track all the way round until you approach a small group of cottages, continue to follow the path round to the left. This path leads you to the back entrance of La Sablonnerie Tea Gardens. Opposite this entrance, take a moment to peer over the gate on your left to see the illegal mill sat in the middle of the field. The mill was built in protest against the seigneurial monopoly of owning a mill to grind the grain.
Follow the only road out of Little Sark, over La Coupee, past Caragh Chocolates (where you can watch Caragh prepare her delicious chocolates in her kitchen) and follow the road downhill. At the bottom of the hill there is a crossroads, turn right towards Stocks Hotel. Follow the path until you reach Stocks Hotel and turn left, following the path up through The Meadows and onto the main road. At the main road turn right and this will bring you back to the Visitor Centre.
Approx. 2 hours 45 minutes
Just over 5 miles