Seymour Tower by moonlight
IT’S 11 o’clock on a Friday night and while most people are thinking of turning in for the evening, a group of like-minded night-owls are about to set off from Le Hocq slip towards Seymour Tower, a mile in the distance.
We’ve all decided to join Derek Hairon and Trudie Hairon-Trox of Jersey Walk Adventures on one of their guided Moon Walks, so-called because of the lunar-like landscape that’s revealed when the tide is out.
These walks also take place during the day, but on this occasion I decided to try one of the ‘full moon’ night-time walks.
It’s pitch black when we start and it takes a while for your eyes to get accustomed to the eerie gloom, even though the moon is out. A torch helps as people pull on their wellies or waterproof shoes and sign themselves in. I’ve plumped for steel-toe-capped wellies – in the expectation of stumbling into rocks in the dark – and I’ve also come prepared with several layers of clothing. As it turned out, the conditions couldn’t have been better – it was a warm night with just a light cooling breeze and above us was a perfectly clear star-filled sky. With the thumping music drifting across from a busy Gorey Pier, and leaving the bright lights behind, we set off.
In the gloom it was difficult to make out who my fellow walkers were, but a few conversations were struck up along the way, in between concentrating on where to put your feet.
Derek and Trudie know the lunar-like terrain extremely well, along with the rich history of the area and knowledge of the marine life that inhabits it. Along the way we paused to examine rock-dwelling creatures, inspect rock pools or be made aware of how easy it is to get cut off by the incoming tide filling the gullies. It was reassuring that these two knew the way as staring up at the refuge tower halfway across made me think it wasn’t somewhere I’d like to spend the night.
At one point Trudie showed us a strange mark in the sand, like a long smooth single bicycle tyre-track, that had me wondering what sort of creature could leave such a trail. I was ready to take on whatever sea monster was at the end of it when Trudie revealed the simple explanation that it was a rock, probably with a bit of seaweed attached, that had been dragged along with the outgoing tide. But there were plenty of other mysteries to be revealed during the walk.
Derek had mentioned that as it was almost a full moon, our chance of seeing any bioluminescence would be low. This was a bit of a disappointment as I was hoping to see this magical effect that’s produced when thousands of luminescent worms glow and dazzle in the dark. However, as we made our way through minor streamlets and pools, there were numerous flashes of brilliant glowing green that sparked here and there. At the brush of a hand, or a splash of water, the tiny creatures just below the gravelly surface would emit their iridescent light.
Meanwhile, ahead of us was the almost menacing outline of Seymour Tower, the 18th century coastal defence edifice, now a holiday rental operated by Jersey Heritage. There was the glow of an open fire lighting up one side of the tower, so someone had already beaten us to it. When we arrived it turned out to be a few young fishermen who had made it their base and didn’t mind us trooping up the steep rocky staircase to have a poke around. The view from the tower across this vast Ramsar wetlands site of rock, shingle and sand was stunning and otherworldly in the bright moonlight.
But it was time to turn back, and on the way we took the chance to climb an enormous high bank that had been building up over the previous months, that looked like it was make of limpet shells and nothing else.
Scrambling down the side of it was tricky – but couldn’t be resisted – and not only by me.
It was almost a shame when it was time to go home when the walk ended at around 2 am. I’d almost believed I’d dreamt it the next day, until I found a handful of limpet shells in my backpack. It had been a real treat and if walking and rock-pooling in the moonlight is your thing, then book a place soon.