A little patch of unspoilt England lying just off France, the pastoral island of Guernsey is a paradise for foodies, says Nigel Tisdall

This is a feature from Issue 6 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

This is a feature from Issue 6 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.

1. Discover Hedge Veg

‘Fresh spider crabs £3’ trumpets the sign. ‘Rhubarb £1 a bunch’ says another. Drive around Guernsey’s narrow, granite walled lanes and you’ll find a cornucopia of front garden honesty boxes selling homegrown produce for a snip. Flowers, eggs, fruit, vegetables, jams – even live lobster – are all for sale so have cash handy. You’ll find more goodies at the Saturday morning farmers’ market at Sausmarez Manor, a stately country house with family entertainment.

2. Learn about Seaweed

‘Bladderwrack’s good for sunburn,’ enthuses Ben Tustin as he leads a low-tide tour across Port Soif Bay. The founder of the Guernsey Seaweed Company is on a mission to promote the health and culinary benefits of seaweed, which is called ‘vraic’ in the Channel Islands. There are some 200 varieties here from Irish Moss to pepper dulse, the ‘truffle of the sea’. The pandemic inspired Ben to create a seaweed hand sanitiser while his wife, Naomi, produces nutritious seasonings and rubs. Their story is as lovely as the seaborne gifts they sell.

3. Delight in Dairy

The pretty, honey-coloured cows adorning Guernsey’s bucolic countryside aren’t just for photos. The breed’s purity has been protected since 1819 and its rich milk becomes bright yellow butter, cream and cheese. Look out for yummy Torteval cheeses, produced single-handedly by a nurse who worked for the NHS for 25 years before ‘wondering what to do next’. Fudge is another treat while trying delicious ice creams from the 13 farms that make up Guernsey Dairy, available in restaurants and seaside kiosks, is essential research.

4. Taste some Cider

Guernsey lies 30 miles west of Normandy so it’s no surprise it is home to bountiful apple orchards. Most farms once had a pressoir (crusher) but today cider production is concentrated in the Fauxquets Valley. Here family-run Rocquette Cider offers a 90-minute guided tour to learn how the harvest from its 5,000 trees is crafted into tangy organic ciders. The generous tastings, accompanied by locally made cheese and chutney, are a merry affair.

5. Corner an Ormer

The ormer is a rare Guernsey shellfish, similar to abalone, that has long been part of island life. It can only be fished between January and April when moon and tides permit, and this has to be done in the cold water without a wetsuit or snorkel using a special hook to prize them off the rocks. The catch is then soaked, shelled, scrubbed, hammered and browned before being slow-casseroled with pork belly and beans. Is it worth it? You decide.

This is a feature from Issue 6 of Charitable Traveller. Click to read more from this issue.