The secret woodland - St Catherine's Woods
One of my all-time favourite spots in Jersey, St Catherine's Woods is a quiet beauty spot, great for an easy walk and fun for children with its stepping stones, streams and rope swings. It's also known as Rozel Woods, the German Reservoir and La Maseline Reservoir.
It's a little tricky to find, and there are no signposts, so I have included directions.
Finding St Catherine's Woods
St Catherine's is on the east coast of Jersey. If you approach by car from Gorey, follow the B29 coast road north until you get to a cross-roads where you can't go straight on because it's a no-entry. Turn right. Look for a small sign on the left saying Rozel 2 1/2. Take the sharp turn into this road, Le Mont des Ormes, and folllow it up the hill until you get to the t-junction at the top. Turn left here, and follow the road down into the dip and over the stream. Look for a sharp right turn here just before you get to the give way sign. This lane takes you into the car park for St Catherine's Woods.
As you enter the woods you will see a board on your left with information about the plants and animals in this nature reserve.
The reservoir at the beginning of the walk was built during the German Occupation of the Island. Some of the trees here are among the oldest in the Island, most having being felled for fuel and timber at that time.
If you are walking here with children, there are a couple of danger spots to look out for. It is very tempting to walk along the reservoir wall to the right as you enter the woods - but there is deep water to one side and a steep drop at the other! Most of the walk is flat, but stepping stones make the walk difficult to negotiate with pushchairs, so it's better with children old enough to manage without.
There are often people fishing here - the reservoir is stocked with Carp. At the end of the reservoir there are stepping stones across the stream, and a short way further along the path again crosses the stream with more stepping stones.
The paths follows the floor of the valley alongside the stream.
Look out for red squirrels - this is one of several places in Jersey you can see them. There are also great spotted woodpeckers, short-toed treecreepers, blackcaps, willow warblers and chiff-chaffs here.
The path here is thought to follow the route of a Perquage - an ancient path running from St Martin's parish Church to the coast - perhaps used by smugglers.
In the spring you can see many woodland flowers alongside the path including bluebells, wood sorrel, wild daffodils and celandine, and in the summer herb robert, red campion, foxgloves and the rare yellow archangel.
Look out for the rope swing in the clearing on the left. This is a popular place to bring young children, both for the swing and to climb on the fallen tree. If you plan to use the swing, check it out for safety first.
Beware - there are sometimes other rope swings in the woods here that are potentially much more dangerous than this one, although not as obvious. They swing out over some very high drops.
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