What to do in Alderney, Channel Islands

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If you really want to get away from it all, then the Channel Island of Alderney is definitely a candidate. It is not easy to get to, as the only connection is a flight from Guernsey. Although there are plans to restart the ferry service. Don’t expect bright lights and big city, but stay in the peace and quiet, take healthy walks and enjoy the excellent seafood.

German invasion in WW2

When the Germans invaded in WW2 they expelled the population and replaced them with thousands of slaves. They had to work building Hitler’s Atlantic Wall, a network of batteries and watch towers to defend the English Channel. 70 years after the end of the war, most of these are still intact, and they are now as part of the island’s cultural heritage.

St Anne

St Anne, Alderney’s diminutive capital, is really just a couple of cobbled streets, bursting with history. The island began to prosper as a refuge for privateers, government sponsored pirates, in the early 18th century. The Le Mesurier family, from Guernsey, became heredity governors, running the place as their private fiefdom.

This lasted until the end of the Napoleonic Wars when privateering was ended, and the last Le Mesurier handed the island to the crown. There was an excellent museum in St Anne which, as well as dealing with the early history.

The coastal path

If you want to explore the fortifications, it’s better to spend a couple of days, the first going west of St Anne and the second day walking east. Alderney’s population has been shrinking and most live in St Anne so it’s an entirely rural exercise.

At the Western end of the island is Fort Clonque, it connects to the mainland by a causeway. The Landmark Trust owns it now and is available for rent.

Continuing on the south coast, there are stunning views of cliffs and bays before reaching the Tudor ramparts of Fort Essex. Work started in the 1560s but the castle was never completed.