102. Alderney part 2

July 2012

I had spent the night at the Saye Beach campsite. The previous day I had pitched my tent behind some bushes just behind the dunes of Saye beach in the hope I would be able to fall asleep listening to the sound of the sea. In hindsight, that was a mistake. As I got back to my tent last night it had started to drizzle. During the evening and night the rain got harder and it also got very windy, with thunder at times. The combination of the sound of rain on the tent and the canvas flapping about in the wind meant I got very little sleep and woke up feeling tired and with a rather foggy head.

I was however determined to finish my walk around the island and fortunately once I’d had some breakfast and a shower I was feeling altogether better. The storm had cleared too, leaving a dry and sunny day. This was my last day on the island though I had most of the day to explore because my flight home was not until 16:45.

The previous day I had walked from Saye beach adjacent to the campsite anti-clockwise around the island. Today I decided to start from the same place and head clockwise until I met the point where I left the coast the previous evening.

My camera had been mis-behaving the previous day as it had got damp after a very wet day on Herm a couple of days previously and acted as if the shutter was being continually pressed whenever it was turned on. Yesterday I had managed to work out a way to get it to take one photo, which was once the memory card was full it would stop taking photos, reporting the card to be full. So I could then delete an image and it would then take one photo and then report the card full. Sadly to fill the card up the previous day it had taken a lot of photos and as a result this morning when I turned it on the battery (the second I had with me) was flat and I had no facility to charge it. I did manage to coax a couple of photos out of it at one point, but most of the photos for this walk had to be taken on my backup compact camera (a Canon A590 IS), which is not especially good, but at least I still had a camera to record the day. Fortunately my SLR camera recovered and returned to normal after a couple of days drying out once I got home.

So to begin the walk I first took a look over the dunes to Saye Beach. It was deserted and it looked like no one had been down there yet today.

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At the eastern end of the bay is a little headland that includes what I suspect is an old fort of some sort, now a private residence called Château a L’Etoc.

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It looked like a very fine place to live. I followed the road around in front of this house and immediately after passing it came to the next beach, Corblets Bay. It was another fine beach with fine sand and rocks at either end. Whoever had been out on the beach in Braye the previous day had been here too making lines of pebbles on the beach here too.

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At the far end of the beach I could climb onto the low cliffs and get a view back over the deserted beach.

Corblets Bay, Alderney

Just inland from here another view caught my eye too, a small lake now flooded which suggested it was the remains of a quarry. At the back was a ruined and now partially submerged building which reinforced my view that this is a formerly industrial location. All was peaceful now though, it clearly had not been used for some considerable time.

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I followed the road which followed the coast here. There was no pavement but that was hardly a problem because I didn’t see any traffic along this bit either.

Road around Alderney

This took me past a second larger part of Corblets Bay. It was a very inviting beach and I headed down onto the sands for a few minutes.

Corblets Bay

There was now a green behind the beach and many seats to enjoy the view from too. At the eastern end of this beach I passed another fort which looked to have been converted to a fancy house, this is Fort Corblets. I headed the road side of this and then around the small rocky beach beyond.

Vau Trembliers, Alderney

Ahead I could now see the lighthouse as the eastern end of the island is very rocky and rugged. I continued to follow the coast road which goes in front of what I suspect is another former quarry given the almost sheer cliffs, some distance from the sea and what looks to be more industrial relics. On top of the cliffs behind is a World War II gun tower, called The Odeon.

East coast of Alderney

I’m not sure how it got it’s name, but it is the largest bunker on the island. The road continued past the lighthouse. It is an attractive building but did not seem to be open to the public.

Alderney lighthouse

Out to sea I was interested to spot another World War II fort. This one was in ruins but could be accessed at low tide over a pebble and sand causeway.

Fort Les Houmeaux Florains, Alderney

To my right I passed the lighthouse and then reached the path down to the causeway over to the fort. I started to head out to it but could see it was mostly in ruins and concluded there would be little to see.

Fort Les Houmeaux Florains, Alderney

Instead I continued on the minor road around the north eastern coast which gave me a view back to the fort.

Fort Les Houmeaux Florains, Alderney

I passed a rocky little inlet and another fort, Fort Quensard, which is private. I rounded the corner, now following the east coast of the island and took a more coastal path from the road. Ahead there was another fort located out to sea on an island. This is Fort Hournet Herbe and is ruined. This one did look worth an explore and since the tide was out I made my way over the rocks and pebbles to it.

There was no signs here prohibiting access so it was rather nice and very interesting to be able to roam over the ruined fort. It was clearly older than World War II but more modern looking buildings had been built within the outer walls of the fort probably during World War II. The view from the remains of the upper wall gives a hint at the scale of the place.

Fort Houmet Herbe, Alderney

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I dropped down to explore some of the overgrown and roofless rooms and even found this old and now rusting fire place still in situ.

Fort Houmet Herbe, Alderney

It was a fascinating explore and nice to see that it had not suffered much in the way of vandalism. Looking out from the fort I could also clearly make out the coast of France, as Alderney is very close to the French coast.

I was now rounding the corner into Longis Bay and could see ahead that the cliffs were soon to come rather higher and more rugged.

Longis Bay, Alderney

The coast path headed through grass dunes and a bit of heather along the back of the low rocky coast although approaching Longis Bay I had to be careful as there were some sort of concrete structures buried under the grass with large gaps in them, presumably guns were located in here during World War II.

The east coast of Alderney

Not a good place to go walking at night, it would be easy to fall down one! I soon reached the eastern end of Longis Bay where the eastern end was mostly pebbles and rocks. There was another fort, Fort Raz located out in the bay and accessed via a causeway. This one was much larger than the others and looked to be in ruins although a van parked out near the fort put me off heading out there to explore, as I assumed it was private.

Longis Bay, Alderney

Fort on Longs Bay, Alderney

The rocky beach soon gave way to fine sand.

Longis Bay, Alderney

The sheltered south facing beach also made for a bit of a harbour since there were a few boats now high and dry on the sands.

Longis Bay, Alderney

The beach here is backed by a low concrete wall, probably another relic of World War II although it might be for coastal defence since there are some houses behind the beach.

At the western end of the beach I followed a low path below the large headland which turned out to be a dead-end. It did however offer me a good view over Longis Bay so it was not wasted.

Longis Bay, Alderney

Instead I headed back and took the road up the hill, which took me a while, as I was pretty tired and it was now quite hot. This took me past Essex Castle, which was once used as a military hospital and was fortified during World War II. I was amused to see some old Walls fridges now being used as planters in one of the gardens here.

I had been trying to put it off, but I would have to climb to the top of the hill. Once at the top I had a good view north over the coast where I had walked the previous day. Sadly the tip on top of one of the cliffs could be seen, too.

The south coast of Alderney

The path now headed around the back of Essex Castle and over bracked and heather covered ground to approach the tip site. Before I reached it I could look back over the high hill and coast I had just been walking. It was spectacular.

The South coast of Alderney

Continuing on the south coast cliff path the view soon opened up to the most wonderful panorama.

The South coast of Alderney

I had enjoyed the south coast yesterday and this part was equally good. I had to round the top crossing the road leading into the tip/refuse site and then turned back onto the cliff path following it until I reached the point where I had left it yesterday. I took a view of the south coast cliffs once more.

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It was now around 12:20 so I decided to follow the same road I had followed the previous day into the capital, St Anne, in search of lunch. It is, as I said yesterday, a rather pretty town.

 

 

St Anne, Alderney

St Anne, Alderney

St Anne, Alderney

My walk around the Channel Islands was now complete (or at least it is for the UK channel islands). I headed down to the coast at Braye and noticed that the railway was running today although I did not actually see the train arrive or depart, but a board said there was one.

Braye Road station

I now made my way slowly back to the campsite along the beach at Braye, but stuck to the road this time, to save time. Back at the campsite I had around half an hour to clear up ready for my taxi to take me to the airport. As I was doing so the man I had got talking to the previous day on the south west coast of the island walked past and stopped for a chat. I had just packed my bag and done up the zip when I looked up and saw my taxi heading down the road. Perfect timing! I said farewell to the man I had been chatting too and loaded my bags into the taxi. It only took around 5 minutes to reach the airport, as Alderney is small and there is little traffic (and no traffic lights).

I was early and in fact the first to check in for my flight. The airport at Alderney is little more than a portacabin and my luggage was weighed an a very old manual scale and then passed through another door ready for loading onto the plane. There was not a lot to see in the terminal so I headed outside and saw the arrival of the plane that would take me on the first leg of my journey home.

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I had originally planned to fly direct from Alderney to Southampton, as although I had flown out of Gatwick I had taken the train to the Airport and Southampton is a little easier to get home from. However this worked out, oddly, quite a bit more expensive than the alternative that I took, which was to fly back to Guernsey and from there on to London Gatwick. I could book it as a through journey and in fact this cost only £5 more than I had paid to travel from Gatwick to Guernsey on the start of this trip, so in fact it meant that my trip to Alderney had not cost that much.

It took only 10 minutes or so to reach Guernsey where I had an hour to wait but at least was taken to the departure lounge, so there was no need to go through security, which was nice. We left on time for Gatwick and arrived a little less than an hour later. On my outward journey I had been told to take my tent to the outsize luggage so I was wondering if I needed to collect it from somewhere on my return but was pleased to see that it soon appeared on the luggage carousel. I took the train on from there to home.

I very much enjoyed my walk around Alderney. It has a stunning and very varied coast, with high cliffs, sandy beaches, rocky outcrops and some beautiful and rugged sections of coast. There was much of interest to see such as the bird life on the rocks off shore and the numerous old forts that dot the coast (and inland) and it was nice to be able to explore some of these too. I certainly recommend a visit to Alderney. It is I think the least visited of the islands and that is a shame as it has a lot to offer.

Here are the photos from this walk  : Main LinkSlideshow

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