The Island of Jersey is only 9 miles long and 5 miles wide, but don’t let its size fool you into thinking there’s not much to do or see there. From the freshest seafood and Michelin-starred cuisine to scenic coastal walks, green cycle lanes and historic castles, Jersey is the ideal destination for a tranquil weekend break (or longer).
If you fancy doing something a little different during your stay, a guided walk along the seabed to the 18th century Seymour Tower is recommended as one of the top 10 island adventures around Britain. This article shares exactly what to expect on a visit to this fascinating and historic tower.
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Visiting a windswept 18th-century square tower over a mile out to sea is probably not the first thing you think of when planning your trip to Jersey, but it’s an absolute corker and a fabulous experience!
In this guide, we’ll recommend where to park, how to visit the tower safely, and the best time for visiting. You’ll also find 10 things to see and do on the walk plus some insight into why the tower was built!
What You Need To Know
Location: Perched on a rocky tidal island, around 1 1/4 miles (2 km) east of the coast of Jersey.
Where to park: La Rocque car park
Walk time: 2 1/2 to 3 hours
When to visit: Guided walks operate all year round
Facilities: None at the tower; however, there are toilets at La Rocque beach
Dog friendly?: Dogs are not allowed at the tower or on guided walks.
Essential equipment: Wellies, waterproofs and your camera.
Accessibility: The Seymour Tower walk is over very uneven terrain and you may need to wade through gullies. The granite steps up to Seymour tower are steep and very uneven.
How To Find Seymour Tower
Jersey has one of the biggest tidal ranges in the world at about 12 metres.
At low tide, the island almost doubles in size and you can walk more than a mile from the shoreline in some places.
Seymour Tower is only accessible for a couple of hours on very low tides – the rest of the time, it’s completely isolated.
Getting there by bus
From Liberation Station (St Helier) take Liberty Bus number 1 bus towards Gorey Pier and get off at La Rocque. Buses run every 15 minutes from Monday to Saturday and every 20 minutes on Sundays.
The bus stop is just past the pretty little harbour of La Rocque, and its Martello tower, almost opposite the granite slipway down to the beach.
Tip: Ask your driver to let you know when you get to La Rocque (pronounced La Rock).
Getting there by car
From St Helier, head east towards Gorey, on the scenic coast road (A4). At La Rocque, there is a small car park just off the road, beside the sea wall
Getting To The Tower
The only safe way to visit Seymour Tower is to join a 2 1/2 to 3 hour guided walk, with an experienced guide.
The tide here drops by over 20 feet in just 3 hours, and it rises just as fast when the tide turns. It’s a beautiful place, but can be very dangerous.
The rocky, undulating intertidal zone is both Europe’s largest intertidal zone and an internationally recognised Ramsar Wetlands site. Known as the Violet Bank this barren-looking landscape teems with marine life and is fascinating to visit.
The shallow reefs and numerous rocks from which it is formed have claimed many ships and the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of sailors and passengers.Paul Chambers, Marine and Coastal Manager – Government of Jersey
Walks across the Violet Bank to Seymour tower are known locally as “moonwalks”, because of the moon-like landscape that’s uncovered twice a day when the tide goes out.
I booked my moonwalk with Jersey Walk Adventures and met my guide Trudie at a granite slipway moments beyond La Rocque Harbour and its Martello tower.
What To Do At Seymour Tower (and on the walk)
As we waded across a deep channel that never drains out fully, we discovered that the seabed is surprisingly undulating. At first, the beach slopes quite noticeably, but further out, where Seymour Tower is located, the seabed is higher up.
Here are 10 things you can do on your walk to Seymour tower
Learn about the seabed
Jersey has over 200 species of seaweed and Trudie was full of information about which you can eat! We also saw and learned about limpets, starfish, crabs, and other creatures, that live in this fascinating and ever-changing environment.
An unexpected bonus for the walk was that Trudie had such incredible knowledge of the history and geography of the Violet Bank area.
As we walked, she often stopped to point out different types of seaweed and creatures revealed by the tide.
Shiver at the thought of the refuge
Every year people get stranded on the Violet Bank when the tide rushes in. The gullies closest to the shore fill up and the lower-lying land becomes submerged before the higher land that’s further from the shore.
Luckily there is a refuge on the higher land – but it’s VERY basic!
It’s built to keep you safe from even the highest 40 ft tides, but you might get your feet wet!
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have to climb those ladders and seek shelter in that basket at the top? What would it be like on a windy day, or if a sea mist rolled in?
Where the refuge is located, the seabed is absolutely packed with tiny shells and stones that have been tumbled so much in the huge tides that they are no bigger than the shells!
Some of the shells are so pretty, you might want a few as a souvenir.
Explore the tower
With each footstep, the once far-distant Seymour gradually became closer.
After tramping through gullies and rock pools, across sand, rocks and shells, and watching our steps on slippery seaweed, a frisson of excitement rippled through the group as we reached the impressive square tower.
Hewn from solid Jersey granite, two sides of the imposing tower are painted white, as it is used as a navigation aid.
Climbing up the tower is not for the faint-hearted!
The granite steps are very rough and uneven and there’s no handrail, plus the steps don’t go all the way down to the seabed. It’s a rough scramble on slippery rocks up to the lowest step.
A granite date stone above the door is a reminder that the tower was built in 1782 – almost 250 years ago!
Inside, the tower has two habitable floors – the upper one is a bunk room sleeping 7, the lower floor has the kitchen and living area. There’s also a small private room for the guide who has to accompany every visit to the tower.
While the accommodation is basic, there’s a solar-powered fridge, a chemical toilet and (most importantly) a wood-burning stove for heating and cooking. Once the door is closed, it’s a very cosy place – even in the winter.
The tower, is now a holiday let, owned and managed by Jersey Heritage and you won’t be able to see inside it if there are guests that day. There’s still plenty to explore though.
On the seaward side of the tower, you’ll find a raised stone terrace area that’s high enough up to be clear of the sea, except during stormy conditions. It’s a public area that some hardy souls use to camp overnight in the summer.
Around the tower
Despite being more than a mile away from the shore, the tide had retreated even further, exposing the sandy seabed, thriving oyster beds, and the route for a longer (4 hours) guided walk to Icho Tower and the Karame Beacon.
You can find information about this longer walk on the Jersey Walk Adventures website.
Imagine getting stranded
In February 1987, two experienced local riders were exercising their horses on the Violet Bank at low tide when a thick sea fog rolled in, and they became disoriented.
Knowing that the tide had turned and worried that they didn’t have time to get back to shore, they coaxed their horses up the rocks and steps to the stone terrace!
All survived, but there was a complex rescue mission, as the horses would not leave the tower at low tide until excavators had built a sand ramp for them!
Raise a toast!
While you won’t have time to stop for a leisurely picnic, you will have time to wander around the tower and the seabed around it before heading back to shore.
Why not plan ahead and take a small bottle of bubbly to toast having reached the most southerly point in the British Isles? Just remember to take all litter back with you.
Exploring the rock pools with a small fishing net is exciting – there’s plenty to discover.
Look out for red-breasted mergansers (officially the world’s fastest duck) and Arctic terns. I
As Jersey is 100 miles (160 km) to the south of the UK mainland, there are also plants and animals here that you will never see in the rest of the country.
Take awesome photos
With an ever-changing landscape and huge skies, Seymour Tower is the perfect place to photograph, whatever the season.
Sunrise and sunset here are simply magical!
When To Visit
Jersey Walk Adventures operate year-round, with walks to Seymour Tower popular in all seasons.
You can also try night-time walks on the seabed called “bioluminescence walks” where you can walk beneath the stars and see the glow from tiny glowworms on the seabed.
Check dates for upcoming walks here (and book early as they are very popular).
The most important things you’ll need are wellies and a warm (preferably waterproof) jacket. It is cold at Seymour Tower, even if it’s sunny onshore.
If you don’t have wellies, you can hire a pair for £1 when you make your booking. Spare socks are handy too, as your feet might get wet.
Why Seymour Tower?
Jersey has a long and fascinating history.
The island has been a prized possession of the British Crown since 1066. It was part of the Duchy of Normandy when William the Conqueror invaded England, killed King Harold at the Battle of Hastings and became William the first of England.
Strategically located just 12 miles from the French coast, in the important trading waters of the English Channel, there have been numerous attempts from France to reclaim the islands.
Two formidable castles protect the south and east coasts of the island against attack, but in January 1781, French forces massed off the east coast, planning to march ashore on a very low tide.
Records show that over 400 French soldiers perished on the vicious rocks that day, others pushed through to St Helier where the Battle of Jersey ensued.
Ultimately, local militia and British forces defeated the exhausted French troops and won the battle. Just one year later, Seymour Tower was built in haste with many more coastal Martello towers also constructed.
Will You Visit Seymour Tower?
It was a very other-worldly experience to explore so far from shore.
Although I only had a short time at the tower itself, there was enough time to explore and to take lots of photographs.
The walk and the fascinating insight into the history of Seymour Tower that Trudie shared, along with all of her tidbits of information about the local area were fabulous too.
This unique tour is definitely one of the best things to do in Jersey.
Before You Go
If you’re heading to Jersey, be sure to bookmark this page or pin it so you can find this hidden gem! And if you love Jersey as much as I do, sign up for my weekly newsletter for even more Jersey adventures and tips!
Until next time!
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Find all of the guides to Jersey here.