Rich’s family have been visiting the channel island of Alderney for decades and have many friends on the island. Rich’s first visit was when he was just six weeks old, returning annually until he was a teenager and sporadically heading back there ever since. Alderney was Calum & Rich’s first holiday together and we are planning on heading back for our third joint visit to the island soon. This is our guide to the island we hope you find it helpful!
Alderney is the third largest of the Channel Islands. Located a few miles of the French coast the Channel Islands we part of the historic Duchy of Normandy. The English kings lost control of their French territories in the early 13th Century but the channel islanders chose to declare continued loyalty to the English crown. Alderney’s strategic location made it an important location for the British military, there are several victorian forts still on the island. During the second worlds war the channel islands were occupied, Alderney itself was completely evacuated of civilians. After the Nazis moved in they developed the existing forts for their own use and set up a forced labour camp.
Alderney is 3 miles long by 1½ miles wide. It has a population of about 1,900 permanent residents. The main town is St Anne’s and the harbour is down the hill at Braye. The island coast is a mixture of cliffs and wide sandy beaches. It has a temperate climate, typically warmer and sunnier than mainland UK, but still subject to the variations of a maritime climate.
Alderney makes up part of the Bailiwick of Guernsey (along with Guernsey, Sark and Herm). It has its own legislature known as the States of Alderney. This makes Alderney a Crown Dependency, largely self-governing but the British Government is solely responsible for defence and international representation.
Alderney is in the same time zone as the UK. The currency is Pound Sterling issued by the Bailiwick of Guernsey, UK coinage and banknotes also circulate freely and interchangeably. Just don’t leave the island with the locally issued notes, they are difficult to exchange.
This is the tricky bit! Unless you own a yacht or light aircraft there are limited options. Flights are either direct from Southampton Airport or via Guernsey. Alderney is served by Auringy airlines with their distinctive little yellow planes. The other option is to get a ferry, this would need to be via Guernsey on the Bumblebee ferry.
For a small island there is a good selection of accommodation from 4 star hotels to camping. We have always opted to go self-catering but for a shorter break the hotels are an excellent option.
Bray Beach Hotel
Directly on the beach, near the island’s harbour Braye Beach Hotel is Alderney’s four-star option. Decked out in an elegant beach style, some of the rooms have balcony’s overlooking the bay. The hotel has an upmarket restaurant and a lovely bar perfect for a gin and tonic and watching the sun go down. www.brayebeach.com
Located in the heart of St Anne’s the Georgian Inn is our favourite of the town centre pubs. Friendly and welcoming, the Inn has a small number of comfortable rooms, a cosy bar, a light and airy restaurant and lovely garden. www.georgianalderney.com
The Victoria Hotel
The Georgian Inn’s sister location, A small guest house located in St Anne’s offers comfortable rooms. The hotel has been recently refurbished. www.victoriahotelalderney.com
The Adventurer’s Rest
This recently refurbish hotel hasn’t been reopen very long so we don’t know that much about the place as yet. We do know that it has 20 rooms, a restranunt and a bar. We’ll be keen to visit next time we’re over. www.facebook.com/chezalderney
Self-catering can be a great option on Alderney. Alderney Accommodation and Bell & Co have a good selection of properties to choose from. But there are a couple of special places if you fancy something different.
This one is defiantly on our bucket list. This five-star house is on the hill overlooking braye harbour. It has fantastic views from it’s large deck. It is open plan and has a contemporary laid back style, perfect for easing into the Alderney state of mind. Sleeps 8. www.pipedreamerhousealderney.com
For all the adventurers out there how about staying in a Victorian fort? Managed by the Landmark Trust Fort Clonque is on an outcrop on the western end of the island. Assessable via a causeway and a drawbridge, the fort is cut off at high tide. A bit remote (by Alderney standards) but the marine views more than make up for that. Sleeps 13. www.landmarktrust.org.uk
At the eastern end of the island, just behind the sand dunes of Saye Baye is the Aldeney Campsite. If you don’t want to lug your own tent over you can rent one, alternatively you can go ‘Glamping’ in their luxury bell tents. www.sayebeachcamping.co.uk
Things to Do
Alderney is a small island, much of its appeal lies in slowing down and relaxing, having said that there is still plenty to keep you occupied:
Alderney’s beaches are glorious. Soft golden sand make these perfect places to while away the day. Braye beach is sheltered behind the islands breakwater, Corblets gets the best waves and the tiny Arch bay is perfect for rock pooling. Even at the hight of summer the beaches never feel crowded. But be warned the sea can be a bit nippy, especially earlier in the season!
Learn more about the history of Alderney at the island museum. Located in the centre of town, it tells the story from pre history to the occupation in WWII and to present day. www.alderneysociety.org
During the summer months you can get boat trips around the island to view the wildlife and history from the sea. A must for Birdwatchers there are the tours organised by Alderney Wildlife Trust. In the summer months you can go on a glass bottomed kayaking tour around the coast. www.alderneywildlife.org
Forts and History
In the 1850’s Alderney was heavily fortified to counter the French naval threat. The forts were never used in war but they leave a fascinating military history. There is also lots of evidence of the Nazi occupation of the island with various bunkers and gun outposts. The bunkers are still in use on occasion with the odd ‘bunker party’ into the small hours. Also, some resident Australian’s have rented one of the bunkers and turned it into a BBQ bunker. Pick up self guided walking tour from the visitors information centre. www.visitalderney.com.
Running in the summer months is the Channel Islands only working railway. The carriages are repurposed London underground trains. Alderney Railway is a fun trip from Bray Harbour to Mannez Station at the other end of the island. www.alderneyrailway.com
Tours of Mannez Lighthouse are organised by Alderney Wildlife Turst. Climb to top for wonderful views of the east end of the island, weather permitting of course! www.alderneywildlife.org
Alderney punches well above it’s weight when it comes to wildlife. There are over 270 species of bird that visit the island annually. Depending on the time of year you visit there different things for you to see including Dartford Warblers, Puffins, Gannets and Storm Petrels. The Alderney Bird Observatory has recently opened on Longis Bay. alderneybirdobservatory.org
One of the best ways to get around the island is on bike, Alderney is easy to navigate and the roads are very quiet. Just watch out for a couple of tricky hills and the cobbles on Victoria Street. You can rent bikes from Cycle and Surf in St. Annes www.cycleandsurf.co.uk
Food & Drink
Rich’s Dad always describes Alderney as “Two thousands alcoholics clinging too a rock” Whilst this is not strictly true (there are only 1,900 residents ) there are a good selection for pubs and restaurants to keep you fed and watered! In addition to the Bars at The Braye Beach Hotel, The Gerogian Inn and The Adventure’s Rest you could try the following:
Located in Braye directly on the Beach, this unpretentious pub is a favourite. Full of historical memorabilia including their very own victorian diver, enjoying a pint in the corner.
Recently refurbished beach cafe & bar, this is new since we last visited. They have a large terrace overlooking brave beach and hosts live music and comedy nights through the year. themoorings.gg
Cantina No 6
A bar and and canteen serving cocktails, pizza, pasta and tapas. Also keep an eye out for the stunning mural painted by our friend and island resident Louise. www.facebook.com/cantina6
If being just seven miles of the coast of France has you cantering for some french food then head to Le Pesked, the island’s only french restaurant. www.lepesked.com
Calum will only have fish & chips when we’re at the seaside. Located right in the harbour Braye chippy is perfect then! www.facebook.com/Braye-Chippy
Open for breakfast and lunch, this stylish brasserie is on Victoria street in the centre of town. Perfect place to stop for coffee and watch the world go by. www.facebook.com/jacksbrasserie
Alderney is a beautiful and relaxing place, it is a bit of a palaver to get to but that makes a trip there all the more rewarding. Don’t go expecting non-stop adventure, slow down to Alderney’s pace and just accept things how they are. If you do this you will surely have a wonderful break and want to return again and again.