This tiny Channel Island – population 65 – feels like a place cut adrift: exploring car-free Herm

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A short ferry ride from Guernsey takes you to the tranquil beauty of an island where time moves slowly and nature is embraced

At 6.30am, I walk to the empty beach at Belvoir Bay. The sand is soft, the sky is pink, Normandy lines the horizon. The only sounds are the murmur of the waves and the piping of oystercatchers. I plunge into the sea. Immediately, the cove is filled with terrible swearwords: I force myself to stay in the water, spluttering and cursing but growing less cold with each swimming stroke. Hours later, sipping coffee while overlooking another deserted beach, my skin is still zinging and my mood is irritatingly smug.

A dunking in the bay is an apt way to start the day on Herm. The tiny, comma-shaped Channel Island – stretching just under 1.5 miles from top to bottom, and less than half a mile across – feels like a place cut adrift. This is emphatically a good thing. The island has a permanent population of 65 and a history that yawns back to the Neolithic era. Puffins breed on its southern cliffs; rabbits nibble in its flower meadows; migrant warblers cluster in its pine groves. You’ll find no cars, or even bikes, and the primary school has four pupils. The island’s name sounds like a hesitation, but its pretty hills, woods and beaches demand to be savoured in the here and now.

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