I love Sark. It’s just a magical dream like island. No public transport. No major advertising. No worries or stress. Sark is one of the few remaining places in the world where cars are banned from roads and only tractors and horse drawn vehicles are allowed. The population of Sark is less than 600 and it has its own flag and government.
Sark was Europe’s last Feudal State – changing to a new system in 2008. In 2011 Sark became the world’s first Dark Sky Community – there are no public lights here – after dark – not a lampost in sight! It is a place I completely recommend visiting. Please. Please. Please. Get out to Sark and see it!
Sark was an easy backpacking option for me as I once worked on the Cross Channel Ferries that served Jersey and Guernsey. Yes, that was a dream job – getting paid to travel. I loved it. We got discount off hotels in Jersey and Guernsey and free trips to England, France, Guernsey and Jersey. I managed to tour 4 of the Channel Islands while working in that job and my favourite was Sark (the other was Herm – I still haven’t been to Alderney). Here I share my top 15 things to do when backpacking in Sark.
1. The “Tractor Entrance”
After getting the boat to Sark from St. Peter Port Guernsey, you arrive at the bottom of a hill. Motorised and public transport is banned on Sark, except for tractors. There are no cars allowed. Bicycles and horse and cart are the norm. But have you ever got on a tractor after immigration? That was my entrance to this tranquil island back in 2009! You have to do it. Prices are in British pounds here and it will cost you a quid.
2. Bicycle Tour
So you’ve been on the tractor, well the only other transport options are bicycles or horse and cart. I recommend hiring a bike to tour the island. Easiest way to get about and you can cover the whole island in a day no problem.
3. The World’s Smallest Prison
For such a small island, Sark punches above its weight with these records it holds…the smallest prison has TWO cells in it. Rarely is there a criminal to put in them.
4. The “Stadium” of the world’s worst international football team.
Sark are not affiliated with FIFA of course but they have fielded an international football team before. They played in the Island Games, only once in 2003 when it was held in Guernsey and Alderney. The Sark international team lost all four matches by at least 15 goals, having the unenviable and ridiculous record of scoring ZERO (0) goals and conceding SEVENTY (70) goals from just four matches. The island made games history by becoming the first team ever to fail to score a goal. They haven’t played a match since. I visited the only football pitch on the island. This is where the team trained to create that record…
5. Little Sark.
While Sark is an island, it does have two parts to it – the big part of Sark (simply called Sark or Great Sark) and Little Sark – a smaller part. You should aim to visit both parts.
6. La Coupee
To visit both parts you walk along the stretch called La Coupee. I seem to remember that bicycles are banned on Little Sark, so you have to leave your bike by the entrance and walk across to Little Sark.
7. La Seigneurie
La Seigneurie is the “parliament palace and gardens” if you like! It’s actually open to the public to walk around, with tours on Wednesdays though you can’t go into the living quarters of the Seigneur (currently John Michael Beaumont).
8. The Little Shop
Sark doesn’t really do commercialism and the Little Shop is definitely one of my favourites from my travels! This is a quirky wee shop selling Sark only souvenirs. It’s one of a kind from around the world. I have never since been in a shop like the Little Shop. Sark flags, maps, postcards etc. all available. An amazing shop.
9. St. Peter’s Church
The Church on Sark is pretty cool – it was open and very similar to any English country style Church. An old gate, bricks, decent design, and an Anglican church.
10. Sark School
Sark has only one school and it is for children up to the age of 15. Beyond that age, kids have to go to Guernsey, or further afield. Some GCSEs are available in Sark however, but only since 2006 onwards.
11. The Beach
Being an island, Sark has cliffs, rocks and beach all around it. To get to the beaches, you’ll need to veer down some of the steep paths but it’s worth it. In summer months, views are amazing and a great spot to relax.
12. Sark War Memorial
During the Second World War Sark was actually occupied by the Germans for a long time. However, people of Sark fought against Germany for Britain in both major World Wars.
13. Isle of Sark Visitor Centre
OK so Sark doesn’t attract a load of tourists, especially not in Winter months, but there is a visitor centre which is manned. Really worth checking out and signing your name in the visitor’s book. Very informative and you can get some information on the island here. I had a map with me and they outlined all the top spots to visit.
14. The Avenue (Sark’s Capital)
Once you have arrived by tractor, the street in front of you is “where it’s at”, known as The Avenue, this street is basically Sark’s “capital”. You will find a NatWest bank, a bike hire place, the Little Shop, tea houses etc. all along this main street.
15. The Bel Air Inn (Pub)
How cool is it to have a beer in such a remote tranquil island? It’s amazing. I didn’t have a care in the world when I had a Guinness on Sark. There are actually a few bars and drinking dens but I opted for the Bel Air Inn.
It had a beer garden, Guinness on tap, friendly locals and is also right beside the tractor stop. If you’re on a day trip, you won’t miss the last tractor to the last ferry back across to Guernsey. One too many drinks and you’ll miss it. Not to worry…plenty of places to stay for the night!
Out of all the places I have been on my travels, Sark still remains a highly magical part of my journeys and I really encourage a trip over to it. Here are some of my videos from backpacking in Sark:
Arrival in Sark:
Waiting for the tractor in Sark:
Boarding the tractor in Sark:
The tractor ride up Harbour Hill, Sark:
Walk to Little Sark:
Banks on Sark:
Bel Air Inn Having a Guinness, Sark:
Cycling in Sark:
Church in Sark:
Scoring a goal at Sark FC:
Cycling in Sark: