The British island stuck in time

I asked her if it is ever difficult being so cut off from the rest of the British Isles or from neighbouring Guernsey. “I find it disconcerting when I go somewhere else without knowing anyone,” she replied. “Here, it’s ‘hello, hello’ in the morning and ‘good night, good night’ to people in the complete dark when coming home from the pub.”

Other characters drawn to Sark’s time-stopped traditions are Jason and Katharine Salisbury, the island’s sole dairy farmer and vet, who moved from the county of Suffolk to the island last year. It was an expensive business freighting nine dairy cows across the English Channel, but the cargo now gives islanders fresh milk and cream for the first time in years.

“We feel like heroes ­– when we arrived the dairy was a lifeline,” both Jason and Katharine told me. “We’d been here before on holiday and always said it was the kind of place we’d love to live. No-one ever really does that in real life, though. Yet, here we are.”

Whether Sark is actually the most peculiar island in the British Isles or not, it’s almost certainly where the car-free, carefree pace of life is at its slowest. In a world that often seems to have lost its way, Sark is rich with community and tradition. Its greatest hope is that it continues to be as meaningful to visitors as it is for those who live here, despite the forward march of time.

Hidden Britain is a BBC Travel series that uncovers the most wonderful and curious of what Britain has to offer, by exploring quirky customs, feasting on unusual foods and unearthing mysteries from the past and present.

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