Whilst strolling back towards Braye, we came upon a War Memorial, dedicated to those folk involved in forced labour, who perished on Alderney during the war. It was quite a moving place, reading all the different plaques: Polish, French, and other Nationalities of those who died during those horrid years.
Mannez Lighthouse, more commonly called Alderney lighthouse, was built in 1912, from granite blocks. It was electrified in 1976, and automated in 1997, when the last resident lighthouse keeper departed. It has more recently had the intensity of its light reduced. The lighthouse is open during the summer months, and can be reached by visitors using the Alderney Railway (which I think only runs at weekends).
As well as the German wartime fortifications there are the remains of many Napoleonic Forts that were built to fend off invasion from the French. Some of the forts have been restored (in part) but others are showing their age. You will find several of the forts along the eastern side of Alderney. Some forts have causeways that allow you access at low tide, but beware, the tides here come in very quickly!
The pictures are of Fort Houmet Herbe, and Fort Les Hommeaux Florains, both have causeways, and you will see in picture two that we could not reach Houmet Herbe as the tide was just covering the causeway as we approached.
On our last visit my son and I decided to walk around the eastern part of Alderney, that's the part where the lighthouse is. We had arrived by sea, and the weather was very settled and warm, unlike the weather in England! Walking up the main shopping street of St Ann, you then turn left along the Main Street and continue walking, past the golf course on your left. Eventually you will find a really nice sandy beach on your right. This is Longy Bay, where you will see what looks like a retaining wall, which in fact is a defensive wall built during the German Occupation to prevent the landing of armoured vehicles! Of course, it never happened!
During the summer months you'll find an icecream van here, and there are toilet facilities close by.
Say hello to a puffin
Alderney is well-known for its seabirds and puffins breed on the rocky islet of Burhou to the north-west. The best way to see an actual, live puffin is to take a boat trip.
We came across this larger than life puffin, carved from a tree, whilst walking along the road on the south side of the island.
- School Holidays
- Family Travel
Take a train ride
You may think that the picture looks remarkably like a shed. However this is actually the station for Alderney railway - the only working railway in the Channel Islands. It uses a former London Metropolitan line train.
The train goes from Braye to Mannez Quarry. The quarry was originally used to provide stone for the building of the Victorian forts and breakwater and is now a nature reserve.
Unfortunately I didn't have an opportunity to take the train as they were not running at a time I could manage (services were at 2.30 and 3.30 p.m. on Saturday when I was there).
Check the timetable in the shed, sorry, Station window.
- Family Travel
- School Holidays
The Alderney Museum is run by the Alderney Society, and first opened in 1966. It is now housed in a former school building dating from 1790.
Its collections cover the history of the island from pre-historic times. There are displays relating to the Iron Age, Roman and Medieval artefacts found during archaeological digs, Victorian fortifications, the Alderney Militia, the 1940s evacuation and the German Occupation.
The Museum also exhibits artefacts from an Elizabethan warship that sank off Alderney, which is second only to the Mary Rose in archaeological and historical importance.
Upstairs is a special exhibition area. When we visited, there was a display about the sinking of the submarine HMS Affray, to tie in with the unveiling of the memorial by the harbour.
The Museum has won several awards, most recently the 1999 Gulbenkian Award for achievement with limited resources.
April to October: Monday - Friday 10 a.m. to 12 noon and 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. and weekends 10 a.m. to 12 noon.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Walking around the old town, you will be reminded of parts of the English Westcountry, such as Devon and Cornwall. Pretty old cottages, with wonderful flowers, old cars which would long ago have been scrapped on the British mainland, and ancient farm machinery. From the appearance of the railway line which you will find at the top of Braye hill, it appears the tourist attraction has now ceased. There are some nice sandy beaches on the South side, such as Braye Bay, Saye Bay and others. Unfortunately we had no time to visit the Lighthouse, which, I believe, is open to visitors.
You need stout shoes
Some parts of Alderney are very steep, unlike Guernsey, but there are a good number of seats placed around the footpaths, especially at The Zig-Zag, a path leading inland from Clonque, and which will take you to the centre of the Island. You will need to explore some of the smaller coastal paths, but there's little chance of you getting lost. You can pick up a useful little map in the Information Centre, in St Ann.
Rugged and deserted beaches
Clonque Beach is a shortish walk from St Ann, on the Northern side of the Island. It is very rugged, with boulders and stones, and not much sand. The beach is ideal for naturalists but you will need good shoes and limbs! There are numberous rock pools at low tide, some of which are suitable for swimming. The tides here are fierce, and you must be aware of the tide times!
Fort Clonque can be approached at low tide from the unmade road, but you will be denied acces, as the fort is privately owned by the Landmark Trust. The Fort was built in the 1840's, and further fortified by the Germans when they occupied the Island in 1940. Parts of the fort appear to be suffering from coastal erosion, as are the nearby cliffs.
Bus tour round the island
Take a 2 hour bus trip round the Island. It starts in St Anne's. Really worthwhile. The whole island was evacuated in 1940 when the Germans occupied it. Amazing concrete buildings everywhere showing the occupation. You will also see the amazing rocks off the western side of the island, where thousands of gannets are nesting.