From the age of 1 until about I was about 16, I visited my Grandparents in the Channel Islands every summer. They moved to Alderney in 1989 and bought a lovely bungalow overlooking the sea.
I have fond memories of scorching hot days on the beach, cycling all over the island with my brother, swimming in the absolutely freezing sea and usually, celebrating my birthday on the island too.
I’m out in Alderney at the moment, visiting my Nan before I go to New Zealand and I realised that I hadn’t ever written about this lovely island before, so now seemed as good a time as any! Besides, it’s absolutely baking outside and I need to shelter from the sun for a bit!
Alderney is the third largest island, though at only 2.4km by 5km, it’s still pretty small! Scattered with old German fortifications from the Second World War when the German Army occupied the islands, it is an island rich in history as well as being a lovely place to holiday. Unlike the larger islands, Alderney was completely evacuated before the Germans invaded and if the invasion of Britain had gone ahead, the Channel Islands would have proven a critical staging posts for the German Army!
Anyway, the fortresses and old gun emplacements are still here, though some are less accessible than others. There were two work camps and two concentration camps, with over 4000 forced labourers on the island by 1943. You can still see the gates of the concentration camp, Lager Sylt and there are remnants of the occupation everywhere, like the anti-tank wall at Longis Beach, bunkers and look-out towers.
In addition to the rich WW2 history, Alderney has beautiful beaches, scenic coastal walks and a relaxed, island vibe. Clocks are set to ‘Alderney time’…”1ish, 2ish, 3ish” etc. and almost everyone says a friendly “hello” to everyone else. Only a short flight (40mins) direct from Southampton (on a teeny, tiny plane!) or via Guernsey from Gatwick (on very a slightly larger plane), Alderney feels a whole world away from the UK. There is a small parade of shops, a butchers, a bakers…a post office etc. and lots of different types of accommodation, hotels, a campsite and lots of B&B’s. You can go to the beaches, go for gorgeous coastal walks, go wildlife spotting, explore the old forts, find out more about the war at the museum, eat, drink and more.
I may be biased as my Nan still lives there but Alderney is a really special place to visit, rich in history and full of character. With more consistently good weather than the UK (for the most part), great restaurants and bars and stunning beaches…Alderney is a fantastic holiday destination for history buffs, families, couples, nature-enthusiasts, sailing lovers, well everyone really!
Have you ever been to the Channel Islands? What did you think?