This is the third incarnation of the rock-climbing guide to Jersey, produced by local activist and islander, Kevin Eloury. Starting back in the 1980s, he has been cataloguing the climbs on this jewel of the Channel Islands. As ever it is surprising is how many new routes have been recorded since the last guide was produced over 10 years ago, and many of these at a very amenable grade. Keeping track of the ever-growing number of new routes, plus details of the new routes put up by both locals and visitors, may not be a full-time job but it requires someone who has a finger on the pulse and a degree of dedication; Kevin has to be commended for taking this on and converting the information into the new guide. The previous versions were cheap productions on poor quality paper and, although adequate, they were far from inspiring. With this latest volume the island has finally got itself a 'proper' guidebook!
From the impressive 50m tower of The Pinnacle (Homesick Angle is one the the best HVS routes I have done for a long time) to the extensive and confusing buttresses of Grosnes, through the delightful 'mini-cliffs' at Corbiere and out to the north coast, there really is tonnes to do here. Refreshingly all the routes on the island (there are 1100 listed in the book) are trad and most of them are on high quality granite. The island has long been a bolt-free zone - the local climbing club originally had just two rules for the members - abide by the Country Code, and no fixed protection!
The guide uses black and white photo-topos wherever possible and these work well enough although, to those of us who have become used to seeing full colour, they manage to look a little dated – maybe next time round!
The coast of Jersey is a complicated place on first acquaintance and the logical progression of the guide, plus a good set of plans and maps, ensures that finding the object of your desire doesn't prove too taxing. The biggest criticism is the state of the action photographs; there are a batch of them in the middle of the book, four to a side, assembled in a near-random order. The key to the shots is hidden away in the index and involves cross-referencing the route numbers to find out which climbs are featured. Add in the rather indifferent reproduction (colour-casts and poorly focused) and they really let the volume down. Now this is a great pity, the climbing on Jersey is as good as the much-vaunted climbing scattered around West Penwith in Cornwall, the red granite, blue skies and glittering sea are a photographers dream, so I have little doubt that the originals were fine – as is so often the case poor reproduction is probably to blame.
In summary, this is a fine and practical guide produced by people who know the area inside out and who love island life. When it comes down to it, if you want to climb on Jersey, and you should - the climbing and atmosphere are both superb, you will have to use this guide and it does the job more than adequately. The action pictures should whet your appetite, and when you get there you will see how inspiring the place really is.
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