Review – Places to Stay – La Valette Campsite, Sark

by Mags Nixon

Epic views from La Valette campsite

 

An escape to La Valette Campsite, perched on a cliff top on the East coast of Sark, makes a perfect base for families to explore this traffic free, cycle happy island, only 24 miles from the French coast of Normandy.
 
With stunning sea views La Valette is a great option for families visiting Sark in the Channel Islands. Pre-erected family sized tents complete with all camping essentials bar sleeping bags and lighting, means stress free packing and a light ferry journey over to the island.

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The Sark Shipping ferry from Guernsey takes 1 hour to arrive at Le Creux Harbour in Sark. La Valette campsite is amazingly situated on the top of these cliffs to the right of the Lighthouse
 
La Valette farmhouse, brought back from dilapidation during the occupation of the Nazis in WWII, lies at the bottom of the hill near the lighthouse. Pick up your hire bikes and meander down the country lane past The Mermaid pub to find this pretty campsite.

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 Framed by flowers & under the shade of a huge tree we find the farmhouse. An open suitcase full of books welcomes us at the gate, in return for RNLI donations. We go to find Linda, the owner, an original descendant of the family who were granted one of forty parcels of land by Queen Elizabeth I to inhabit the island in 1565 (and amazingly the only parcel of land on Sark in the hands of the original family)

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 Linda gives us a warm welcome with her lilting Scandinavian sounding Sarkese accent. Walking us over to two large fields overlooking the sea, Linda shows us to a ready pitched 2 bedroomed tent perfect for a family of four. Complete with blow up mattresses, cooking equipment, cooler box and outdoor picnic table, it’s ready to go so we can just drop our bags and pick Linda’s brains on where to explore first.

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 Booking a pre-pitched tent was fabulous! With a family of four, being able to just rock up and unpack was brilliant.
 
Sark, one of the few places in the world where cars are banned and only 2 miles square, has a quiet wild beauty. Windswept trees bend over quiet country lanes and rugged coastlines fall dramatically into the all-surrounding ocean.

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 La Coupeé, the famous bridge connecting Little Sark with Big Sark
 
The sedate pace of life here attracts tourists by the thousands and Linda tells us that people either love Sark or hate it. I knew instantly I’d fallen in love.

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 Hiring bikes is a wonderful necessity on car free Sark
 
La Valette is only a five minute cycle from the main street ‘the Avenue’ where you’ll find a supermarket, post office, a couple of cafes and the tourist information. You’ll also see the horses & carriages congest here vying for business from day trippers which whip round the island in a few hours. Believe me, the only way to see Sark is to stay overnight, preferably for several – that’s when the real Sark sinks in.

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 The main strip – The Avenue
 
The atmosphere at the campsite is relaxed being super child & pet friendly. It’s a family campsite with plenty of notices to say they won’t tolerate loud groups or late night noise. There’s loads of room for kids to cycle their bikes around and the fields are so large that if you want to bring your own tent, you could have your pick of pitches.

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Linda also has camping cocoons to rent – a popular alternative to tents – small wooden pods (similar to a shed but nicer!) sleeping 3. Sheltered from the wind, these cocoons have really caught on and sell out fast. Fully booked for Sark’s Folk Festival or the Dark Sky Festival, Linda tells us the campsite transforms into a mini Glastonbury with campers packed in and a wonderful atmosphere.

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 Glamp in one of the Cocoons at La Valette Campsite
 
Set in the farmhouse garden near the charming veggie patch and wandering hens, the small solar powered ablutions block is rough and ready but does the job. Inside a small kitchen sink provides a washing up area, whilst £1.00 gets you a 4-minute hot shower and an outside tap provides drinking water.

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 The shower block is ‘rustic’ but perfectly functionable. Tip: As with most campsites, take your flip flops for the showers
 
From the campsite walk down to Grève de la Ville Bay, a popular mooring spot for yachts, for a morning swim or a stone skimming session with the kids. It’s a 20 minute walk down with a fun tyre swing strapped up to a tree half way there. Tip: Take some incentive sweets for the climb back up!

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 Skimming workshop by Mr Family Freestyler at Grève de la Ville Bay
 
The campsite is basic. There are no electric points, no fridge/freezer or washing machine facilities although Linda does provide free ice packs for the cooler box, which you can swap out each day in her chest freezer just inside the back door. I even popped a bottle of rosé in there & it was no drama! Linda also kindly let a family next door do an emergency wash after a night accident.

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 Linda showing my eldest the old well that her Mother used to draw water from. Linda, who lived as a little girl in occupied Sark has plenty of stories to tell about Sark, it’s occupation and life from yesteryear.
 

The luggage tractor drops off & picks up your luggage for £3.00 a bag each way. Tip: remember to label each piece of luggage with Jersey or Guernsey for your return trip as ferries go to each from Le Creux harbour.

If you’re a 5 star freak or can’t do basic facilities then this isn’t for you but if you’re looking for affordable accommodation with spectacular panoramic sea views and want to meet lovely locals with fascinating stories of old then this place is perfect spot for families.

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My youngest enjoying the vast space on La Valette

FURTHER INFORMATIONLA VALETTE PRICES

PRE-ERECTED TENTS
4 person tent – £40 per night/£220 per wk + daily site fee of £9 per adult/£4.40 per child
5 person tent – £50 per night/£275 per wk + daily site fee of £9 per adult/£4.40 per child

COCOONS (2-3 people) – £30 per night + daily site fee of £9 per adult/£4.40 per child

A 3 bedroom cottage (sleeping 6) is also available for rent attached to the main farmhouse. £875 per week.

HOW TO GET THERE

Book a foot passenger fare with Condor Ferries who sail from Poole and Portsmouth to Guernsey. From Guernsey it’s a 2 minute walk to where the Sark Shipping ferry departs for Sark (journey time 1 hour). www.condorferries.co.uk 0345 609 1024

Sark Shipping have a free left luggage shipping container next to it’s departure point in Guernsey for its customers which is useful, although it doesn’t have lockable lockers so make sure you don’t leave any valuables. www.sarkshipping.com

Tip: Label your luggage with La Valette Campsite (or other accommodation) and it will be delivered directly to your accommodation from the ferry for £3.00 a bag each way.

Upon arriving in Sark, walk through the tunnel and catch the tractor train up the steep hill to the main street ‘The Avenue” (Adults £1.20, Children 60p). Collect your bikes from whichever cycle hire you’ve booked with and then follow the signs to the lighthouse & La Valette campsite

For further information visit www.sark.co.uk

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3 comments

Mama Munchkin 9th September 2016 - 2:15 pm

This place looks dreamy. I have never thought about visiting as it wasn’t even on my radar. But, I am adding it to our bucketlist. It would be great to spend time over there after visiting Normandy which is already on our list 😉

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Mags (The Family Freestylers) 9th December 2017 - 2:45 pm

I’m so glad you’ve put it on your bucklist Mama Munchkin, it would perfectly fit with your Normandy trip as you can even catch a ferry direct to Sark from St Malo if you didn’t have time to take in Jersey or Guernsey (we loved Jersey also – def worth a visit – see our blog post https://www.thefamilyfreestylers.com/blog/top-10-things-to-do-in-jersey-with-kids-aged-5)

Reply
Hiking Camping Guide 11th May 2018 - 5:14 pm

So we’re trying to be smart and not blow our entire vacation budget in one fell swoop by looking for things we know we need for our first trips,

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