Roughly half way between Jersey and Brittany, Les Minquiers National Park is the southernmost part of the British Isles with just a cluster of fishermen’s cabins clinging to the rocks. At low tide, the rock shelf around the Minquiers has a larger surface area than Jersey itself but at high tide only a few islets remain above water.
Maîtresse Ile, at 50 metres long and 20 metres wide, is the largest of these and supports 18 or so stone cottages originally built by fishermen and quarrymen, a helicopter landing pad and a small shack that is home to the most southerly toilet in the British Isles. It is a great place for swimming, paddle boarding or picnicking, especially from the large sandbank. Sea kayaking around the huge sandbars and rugged rocky outcrops is also an incredible experience and trips can be booked with local guides.
The archipelago has had various claims over its sovereignty throughout history, perhaps the most bizarre came in 1998 with a small group of French ‘invaded’ on behalf of the ‘King of Patagonia’ in ‘retaliation’ for the British occupation of the Falkland Islands. In 2019, history repeated itself as more people attempted to reclaim the island in the name of the king but this time, they also reclaimed the toilet, painting the door of the southerly shack blue, white, and green. The invaders also placed a new plaque on the toilet, declaring it the most “northerly” building in the Kingdom of Patagonia.
Today there are no permanent inhabitants, though it gets plenty of passing yachtsmen, fishermen and day trippers in the summer. Boat trips leave from St Catherine’s Breakwater in the north east of Jersey. Dolphins are often spotted on the journey to the islands.
You may also be interested in:
- Walks from Rozel Harbour to St Catherine’s Breakwater or Bonne Nuit Bay
- Discover Jersey’s Occupation story
- Walk to tidal L’Islet (Elizabeth Castle) from St Helier
- Discover the horrible histories of Mount Orgueil
- Go glamping at the Durrel Wildlife Park
- Try some of the best seafood in the Channel Islands
- Swim or walk on the best beaches in Jersey
- Enjoy a seafood BBQ in a WW2 bunker
- Visit one of the ten oldest buildings in the world
The other Channel Islands are also excellent walking destinations and, together with Jersey, walks around their coast paths form the 110 mile Channel Island Way.
Guernsey – find out about walking in Guernsey, Guernsey’s outdoor activities, cafes and more here
Sark – find out about walking in Sark, Sark’s outdoor activities, cafes and more here
Herm – find out about walking in Herm, Herm’s outdoor activities, cafes and more here
Alderney – find out about walking in Alderney, Alderney’s outdoor activities, cafes and more here
Other islands in the British Isles
We have explored nearly 600 islands in the British Isles and are trying to write them up as fast as we can. Check more here or contact us as we are happy to share our info.
Our two books are stacked with more ideas on what to do in the Channel Islands and more more info here