19 July 2021

Walk through Jersey’s deep time history

How do you squeeze 600 million years of history into a short walk along St Ouen’s Bay? The answer is to make every step represent half a million years!An exhilarating, whistle-stop tour of Jersey’s fascinating deep time history takes place this Sunday (25th) as part of a free, guided walk that will follow the Island’s story from the moment the first rocks were formed, through to the present day.

The 1.2km walk, which will be held in groups – each with a guide – is being organised by geographer and TV producer Dr Jonathan Renouf under the umbrella of the Aspiring Jersey Island Geopark Project, which is shining a spotlight on the Island’s incredible landscapes and seascapes.

Jonathan said: “People may be surprised to discover just how turbulent Jersey’s life has been – it has been buried, drowned, scorched, and almost swept away! The scars of those life experiences are all around us, preserved in the Island’s rocks, cliffs and valleys. On Sunday, we will be recreating Jersey’s deep time story and capturing its unique history in a walk where each step represents half a million years in time.

“It’s a terrifically exciting and largely unknown story. For example, most people don’t know that Jersey was once close to an active volcano that covered parts of the Island in explosive, volcanic bombs!”

The ‘Deep Time Walk’ will start at the upper part of the beach at the Watersplash and take walkers along the beach to Le Braye, with groups leaving at 15 mins intervals between 2pm and 3pm. Along the way, the guides will share the story of where Jersey’s rocks came from, why the Island is the shape it is today and when it became an island.

Part of the walk will involve an interactive art installation and performance piece, designed to encourage walkers to physically engage with the geological processes that created Jersey. It has been created by writer and comedian Dr Adam Perchard (last seen performing “Bathtime for Britain” at the Arts Centre), who describes his installation as “visually arresting, great fun and highly memorable”.

There will also be sand art along the walk, created by Fine Art graduate Amber Hahn, whose studies have included research at The Centre for Land Use Interpretation in Utah and working with geologists from Utah’s Department of Natural Resources to create an art installation.

The ‘Deep Time Walk’ is suitable for all ages and to join in, all people have to do is turn up at the Watersplash between 2pm and 3pm. Having completed the walk at Le Braye, people will then need to find their own way back to Watersplash, or arrange onward transport from Le Braye.

Millie Butel, Jersey Heritage’s Landscape Engagement & Geopark Development Curator, said: “This exciting aspect of Jersey’s story is one of the reasons the Island could be a candidate for future designation as a Geopark. Our Island has outstanding landscapes and seascapes and St Ouen’s Bay is the perfect place to share how they have been shaped by tide and time over millions of years. We hope lots of people take part in Sunday’s free walk and if they are inspired to discover more, the Aspiring Jersey Island Geopark Visitor Centre at Jersey Museum has plenty more stories to tell about why Jersey is so special.”

The Aspiring Jersey Island Geopark Visitor Centre, which is kindly sponsored by Saltgate, is off the concourse area at Jersey Museum & Art Gallery. It is open daily and entry is free.