Up the Creek - Further Afield
Alderney, Channel Islands
A perfect mooring for anything accept a north easterly which makes on board life rather lumpy to say the least and rather precarious should you lay at anchor. I have been caught out in just such weather, all night and it wasn’t at all pleasant but that’s another story. There is another anchorage for north easterlies though and that is on the south east side of the Island in Longy Bay (see photo). Study your chart well before entering as this one can be tricky. Longy Bay sea wall was built during the second world war by the Germans to prevent troop landings and is still as good today as it was then. It absorbs the sun during the day and reflects the heat later on, perfect for a beach backrest. Also take advantage of the fine sandy and sheltered beach or stroll at low tide along the causeway to Raz Island and the Fort (now private). The Islanders used to harvest seaweed from this area. Longy common is a paradise for bird watchers and some of the best blackberries grow near the rifle butts where an ancient cartridge might also be discovered. Should you choose, then the Old Barn pub and restaurant is nearby. This is off the beaten track but should you find you are on a cycling tour then it will be much appreciated.
Back to Bray Harbour to pick up one of the many buoys for the best mooring. Either dinghy ashore or call Mainbrace Marine for the water taxi (Rib with Diesel outboard). This Island is ideal for anyone, children and adults whatever the age and worthy of staying several days or even a week and more. Hire a cycle or a very cheap car from as close as the harbour steps, public telephone nearby. Better still just stroll around the island and visit one or two of the most inviting restaurants you could imagine (see photo). The choice of Bays is such that you will have to spend several days here. Should you not ride a cycle then hire a tricycle or a tandem with your partner, trail bikes for the kids of course. The island is covered in WW2 history. A stroll inland, near the airport and you might find the remains of the German Prisoner of War Camp, the gates being the last remnants. Talking of the airport, why not stroll to the end of the runway for a bit of a fright with the aeroplanes just skimming your head. These days the end of the runway is closed off but from nearby you still get a thrill. By arrangement you can have a tour of the Islands WW2 underground tunnels and there are far more than you think stretching from one end of the island to the other. They say there are more roads under the Island than there are above. Even the island’s railway planed to use some in Mannez Quarry. The Alderney Railway was inaugurated by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1847. The Channel Islands' only working railway which, in 1997, celebrated its 150th birthday runs from the harbour up to the north-east coast and back again (on the same track though). The diesel engine (Elizabeth) pulls two old former London Bakerloo Underground carriages along a scenic coastal route before cutting across country towards Mannez Quarry and the nearby Mannez Lighthouse. It's a popular walk and attraction and always runs bang on time although only on certain days. Nearby there was a miniature 7 inch gauge railway for those interested but now no longer used. Another tour that can be arranged is of the many Victorian Forts scattered all around the island. Try counting them. Whilst walking around the headlands be careful of tripping over the many miniature WW2 15 inch gauge railway lines now hidden in the grass once used by the Germans for transporting munitions. The Island smacks of tranquility and even the local traffic acknowledge that life is easy. Once with my wife Joy, in St. Anne’s High Street (single lane) a car stopped and the owner (Roland Mainbrace, founder of Mainbrace Marine) continued a conversation we started earlier that day. With his engine off, hand brake on and with not a care in the world other vehicles pulled up behind but much to my surprise he still continued. “This is the norm on Alderney” he said, and the other vehicles made no gesture or complaint at all. Just think should that happen in any village in England. Once you’ve arrived at the Mooring Harbour steps head for the Bray Chippy on the headland where they serve the most excellent fish & chips. Try one of the many new bar/restaurants starting with what used to be the Sea View Hotel, the first building in Bray High Street soon to be converted with several other buildings. Thankfully the Divers Pub remains although without any sawdust on the floor. Also try the Moorings Bar restaurant and terrace serving bar meals, a la carte & BBQ (subject to weather), open all week and just opposite the smallest but excellent Supermarket on the Island. Just a 20 minute walk to St. Annes and you will have the choice of what ever takes your fancy. I wont even start on St Annes as it is absolutely full of history. There’s just so much to see and view on Alderney it’s no wonder the Islanders want to keep it all to themselves especially before the hoards of “trippers” spoil it.