Weather, winds, and tides all influence an itinerary. And crew members have input as well. So no expedition is exactly like the others. But here are just some of the places we often visit:
Because of its affluent residents and well-heeled visitors, Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, has been called the Monaco of Britain. It's located in the English Channel about 12 nautical miles from the Cotentin Peninsula in Normandy. Among Jersey's principal sights are Mont Orgueil Castle, which has guarded the island for some 600 years, the Maritime and Transport Museum, the Victorian Central Market, the Jersey War Tunnels (constructed by the Germans during their World War II occupation of the island), the yachts in the harbors, and... the people!
A historic town on the Devon coast, Dartmouth is a patchwork of narrow lanes, Elizabethan buildings, and stone stairways. It has been a strategic deep-water port since the 12th century, when English fleets sailed for the Crusades from its harbor. In 1620, it was a stopover for the Pilgrims when they sailed from Southampton to America in the Mayflower. The town was also an embarkation point for troops headed for Utah Beach in the D-Day invasion of Normandy. Among its major attractions are Dartmouth Castle, the Butterwalk, and the 14th-century St. Saviour’s Church.
Guernsey, the second-largest of the Channel Islands, was the refuge of Victor Hugo during his 15-year exile from France. It was there that he wrote many of his most famous works, including Les Miserables. The writer’s home is one of the island’s major attractions. Other popular sites include Castle Cornet, the Bluebell Woods, Moulin Huet (the bay that was painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s favorite spot on the island), and the rugged cliffs offering panoramic vistas of the sea.
Situated mainly on Portsea Island, Portsmouth is notable for being Britain’s only island city. Site of the world’s oldest dockyard (still in use), it is also home to several famous ships, including Lord Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory, and HMS Warrior, Britain’s first iron-hulled warship. The Royal Naval Museum and Royal Marines Museum bear witness to the city’s long association with the armed forces, as does the Guildhall Square Cenotaph in the city center, a war memorial displaying the names of of Britain's fallen, guarded by stone sculptures of machine gunners.
Alderney, to the northeast of Guernsey, is the third-largest of the Channel Islands. Many of its historic sites reflect its strategic importance as a gateway to the English Channel. Its clock tower, an old Roman fort known as “The Nunnery,” Les Mouriuax House, Island Hall, the island’s museum, the Mannez Lighthouse, and the Channel Islands’ only train (old London Underground cars pulled by a steam engine) contribute to its unique charm.
For more on all the ELS destinations, see the "Along The Way" posts on our blog.
One of France’s most popular tourist destinations, Mont Saint-Michel has been a pilgrimage site since the eighth century, when the bishop of Avranches heard the archangel Michael direct him to build an abbey. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site attracting over three million visitors a year. The Benedictine abbey is perched atop a rocky island, with the town and dwellings below. Its steep and winding streets are picturesque, albeit often crowded with tourists. Still, the majesty of the site is undeniable.