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Alderney Coast Path

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Alderney Coast Path
Author: Alderney Runners, Published: 15 Feb 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide star0 Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide star0 Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide star0 Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide star0 Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide
Channel Islands, Alderney
Walk Type: Coastal
Alderney Coast Path
Length: 10 miles,  Difficulty: boot Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide boot Alderney Coast Path Walking Guide
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This is a 10 mile circular walk or run around the stunning Alderney Coast Path, which claims to have more historic buildings (21), species of birds (100+) and species of wildflowers (1000+) than any other country walk of this length in the world. It is also special because there are almost no buildings other than forts between the path and the sea, affording wonderful views throughout the walk. The main town, St Anne, lies in the centre of the island so the walk can be easily split into sections and completed on different days.

The route is nearly all off-road along easy tracks. There are a few hill sections which can get slippery when wet, so walking boots are advised. There are toilets at two places en route and two refreshment stops, at the bottom of Essex Castle and at the campsite (these may not be open in winter). The weather is maritime and changeable so wet gear is advised. There are no stiles or gates on route and any livestock is held away from the paths behind fences. The whole route is way-marked with 36 engraved stones giving distances to and from Braye, the starting place - these numbered stone way-markers are mentioned in this guide's turn-by-turn directions to help you navigate. If you collect a Coast Path Challenge leaflet from the Visitor Information Centre you can enter a fun competition and get a certificate to prove you have walked the whole path.

Alderney is easily accessed from the UK mainland or Channel Islands. There are daily scheduled flights to Alderney from Southampton and Guernsey (see www.aurigny.com). Full details of all travel links to Alderney can be found at www.visitalderney.com, which also lists all accommodation options, restaurants etc.

The walk starts and ends at the Douglas Quay in Braye, next to the Braye Beach Hotel. This is half a mile from the main town, St Anne, down Braye Hill. There are taxis and bicycle hire in town, but no public transport. There is plenty of free parking around the start/finish point.

If you can't wait to get started after you land at Alderney Airport, just turn left out of the airport along Le Grand Val and you will meet the walk in a quarter of a mile at the junction of Tourgis Hill, at way-marker 6.

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Walk Sections

Start to Fort Clonque (1.8 miles)
Start to Fort Clonque (1.8 miles)

Start point: 49.7234 lat, -2.1999 long
End point: 49.7132 lat, -2.228 long

ROUTE
Starting at the Braye Beach Hotel, keep the sea on the right for 200 yards as far as the dinghy park, where we turn left. Cross the dinghy park and turn left on to the road to pass the Braye Chippy. You will see the harbour, breakwater and Fort Grosnez on your right. We now carry straight ahead on the track beside the road, hugging the coast along Crabby Bay (to reach way-marker 1).

The path bears to the right away from the road. Walk through the cutting (which was once a narrow gauge railway line taking stone to build Fort Tourgis) with Doyle's Battery on your right. After 0.4 miles along Platte Saline and past Saline Battery, you will see Fort Tourgis on the left and way-marker 2. Turn away from the road that goes up the hill and take the track that hugs the coast for another mile. At way-marker 3, do NOT turn right but keep on the main track until you arrive above Fort Clonque at the foot of the Zig-Zag and way-marker 4.

POINTS OF INTEREST
Breakwater - at 960 metres, this is one of the longest in the UK and it can be walked during calm seas
Fort Grosnez - this large fort was built in the 1850s to protect the harbour. It is now used to house building materials and equipment for maintaining the Breakwater.
Doyle's Battery - the smallest of the Victorian works, completed in 1854 to protect Crabby Bay and Platte Saline. It is now the home of the boxing club.
Platte Saline Battery - now a builders yard, this small Victorian battery was built to protect Platte Saline bay, so called because there were salt pans in this area.
Fort Tourgis - the second largest of the Victorian forts, completed in 1855 with 33 guns in 5 batteries, each with its own magazine, shell store and fuze-fixing room. Several sections have been cleared and can be explored.
Fort Clonque - this picturesque Victorian fort with a causeway is now owned by Landmark Trust for holiday accommodation. The causeway can be explored at low tide.

Fort Clonque to Pig Farm (0.8 miles)
Fort Clonque to Pig Farm (0.8 miles)

Start point: 49.7132 lat, -2.228 long
End point: 49.7084 lat, -2.2259 long

ROUTE
We climb up the Zig-zag for 0.5 miles. Near the top of the Zig-zag look out for a small building on the left (see points of interest below). We will soon come to a T-junction, way-marker 5.

Turn left along the track for 0.1 miles until the road junction at way-marker 6. We turn right along the road for 0.2 miles. On the right is the free range pig farm. We come to waymarker 7 on the left showing that we turn left along the Ups and Downs.

POINTS OF INTEREST
As we climb the Zig Zag, turn around for some wonderful views of Fort Clonque and of the the route we have taken from Braye.
The building on the left near the top housed a century old pump which moved spring water from this area to St Anne and Fort Tourgis.
The pig farm supplies the island with free range pork from a rare breed, "Oxford Sandy and Black". A leaflet is available from the Visitors' Centre.

Pig Farm to Sylt Camp (0.4 miles)
Pig Farm to Sylt Camp (0.4 miles)

Start point: 49.7084 lat, -2.2259 long
End point: 49.7057 lat, -2.2081 long

ROUTE
Turn left at way-marker 7 to set off on this 0.4 mile section of the Ups and Downs with the airport on the left. Look out for a large metal "cooking pot" and a "Martello tower" on the right. The track continues until we reach a Y junction. Our track forks to the right as indicated by way-marker 8.

POINTS OF INTEREST
The "cooking pot" was used by the Germans for dispensing soup, probably at Sylt camp, during their occupation of the island in WW2.
On the right there is a track off the main path which, after a quarter of a mile, leads to Telegraph Bay, used for signalling Guernsey by semaphore and later the site of the landing of the first telegraph cable.
Back on the main footpath you will see to your right a "Martello Tower" (actually a signalling and lookout post).
At way-marker 8 the left fork goes to Lager Sylt, the site of one of the island's WW2 labour camps. This one was run by the S.S. and may have seen some of the worst atrocities on the island. It is possible to explore the grounds with care.

Sylt Camp to Impot (2.1 miles)
Sylt Camp to Impot (2.1 miles)

Start point: 49.7057 lat, -2.2081 long
End point: 49.7133 lat, -2.1849 long

ROUTE
As we continue along the Ups and Downs, look out for a sign on the right to a sentry post. This is just off the path and well worth exploring. Shortly after this you will see a trough below you on the right (see points of interest below). The track continues until you see a standing stone on the right and way-marker 9, indicating that you now continue straight ahead along the narrow track.

Take care on the downhill sections which can be slippery. After half a mile you will see the Wildlife Bunker entrance on the left. Continue until the T-junction with way-marker 10 indicating a turn right. Another section of rolling path brings you to way-marker 11 at a road where you turn right. Follow this road for 0.2 miles until you come to the entrance to the Impot. Look for way-marker 12 on your left, indicating that you follow the track to the left of the road.

POINTS OF INTEREST
Look out for the sign "Sentry Box" on your right. You can explore the WW2 sentry box if you climb the steps. Imagine yourself standing in this concrete "tomb" for hours at a time looking out for an allied invasion.
The trough is known locally as a "lavabois" and was used for washing clothes and watering livestock.
The Standing Stone has a number of local myths but it was probably just a marker between plots of land.
The Wildlife Bunker is always open and free, well worth exploring.

Impot to Fort Essex (0.8 miles)
Impot to Fort Essex (0.8 miles)

Start point: 49.7133 lat, -2.1849 long
End point: 49.7167 lat, -2.1764 long

ROUTE
Take the way-marked path to the left of the Impot entrance. Follow this for 0.3 miles until we bear right at way-marker 13. After 0.2 miles turn left at the T-junction, way-marker 14. In a further 0.1 miles turn right at way-marker 15. Follow this path for 0.2 miles until you meet the road at way-marker 16. You will see Fort Essex in front of you, turn right down the road.

POINTS OF INTEREST
There are some stunning views of cliffs and bays on this section.
Fort Essex - probably gained its name from the Earl of Essex who bought the rights to Alderney in 1591. Work was started in the 1560s but the castle was never completed. In Victorian times it became a fortified barracks and military hospital and today is converted to private dwellings.

Fort Essex to Lighthouse (1.7 miles)
Fort Essex to Lighthouse (1.7 miles)

Start point: 49.7167 lat, -2.1764 long
End point: 49.7287 lat, -2.1602 long

ROUTE
Continue down the road for 0.3 miles to the T-junction at way-marker 17 where you turn right. Carry on along the coast road for 0.2 miles, past the toilets on your right and the Nunnery (a Roman coastal fort) and way-marker 18 outside the German fortfication "Pirates Nest". Continue on the coast road for 0.3 miles and look out for way-marker 19 on your right where you turn off the road and down a sandy path.

After 0.1 miles pass way-marker 20 on the left, then continue on the sandy track for another 0.6 miles when the track meets the road at Fort Quesnard, where you follow the directions on way-marker 21 to bear right towards the lighthouse. Continue along this road for 0.2 miles until you see the track off to the right at way-marker 22 taking you behind the lighthouse.

POINTS OF INTEREST
As you go down the road from Essex there are wonderful views across Longis Bay. You will see Ile de Raz and its causeway, the German anti-tank wall and the Nunnery Roman fort.
The Nunnery is one of the best preserved Roman Coast Forts. It is now home to the Alderney Bird Observatory.
Next to the Nunnery is the German fortification "Pirates Nest" which can be explored with care and a torch.
As you walk along the road from the Nunnery you will see on the hill to the left the German Command post known as the Odeon for its resemblance to old cinemas. On your right is the huge anti-tank wall built to thwart invasion during WW2.
As you turn off the road to follow the coast track, look out for the steel structure on your left filled with bullet holes. It is said that it was used for executions but more likely for target practice.
Soon you will see Fort Raz with its causeway on your right and later Fort Houmez Herbe with a rocky causeway.
As you leave the sandy path and come to the road, the fort on your right is Fort Quesnard, now a private residence.
Soon the lighthouse comes into view. Built in 1912, it is now automated and there are regular tours, which you can book at the Visitors Centre.

Lighthouse to Campsite (0.9 miles)
Lighthouse to Campsite (0.9 miles)

Start point: 49.7287 lat, -2.1602 long
End point: 49.7294 lat, -2.1773 long

ROUTE
Leaving way-marker 22, continue for 0.1 miles behind the lighthouse to way-marker 23. Look out for Fort Houmeaux Florains on your right. Follow the grassy track for 0.1 miles to way-marker 24. Continue for another 0.1 miles until you meet way-marker 25 just before a road junction. Turn right here to follow the track behind Fort Corbletts. After 0.2 miles you will find way-marker 26 and a view of Corbletts bay.

Continue on the grassy track for another 0.3 miles, passing way-marker 27 until you arrive at way-marker 28. This is on your right, beside a litter bin, and indicates that you turn right down the steep sandy track. A few yards on, way-marker 29 shows that you bear left away from the sea and go through a tunnel, continuing on for 0.1 miles until the campsite at way-marker 30 beside the entrance gate.

POINTS OF INTEREST
Fort Houmeaux Floraine was built in 1859 as part of the Victorian defences, now in ruins.
Fort Corbletts was built at the same time and is now a private residence.
Before you turn off the road at way-marker 28 you can see in front and to the right Fort Chateaux a L'Etoc, also built around 1855 and now private.

Campsite to Fort Albert (0.6 miles)
Campsite to Fort Albert (0.6 miles)

Start point: 49.7294 lat, -2.1773 long
End point: 49.7267 lat, -2.1854 long

ROUTE
Following the direction indicated on way-marker 30, go through the gate across the campsite for 0.2 miles until you see another gate and way-marker 31. Leaving the campsite through the gate, turn right on the stony track for 0.1 miles with Saye Bay on your right. Look out for way-marker 32 on your left.

If you go straight ahead you will find the fort at Bibette Head which is well worth exploring. Our path turns left at way-marker 32 to climb up to Fort Albert. After 0.1 miles look out for a right turn, indicated by way-marker 33. Continue along this path for 0.2 miles until you emerge at the road and entrance to Fort Essex, with way-marker 34 on your right, indicating that you continue down the road.

POINTS OF INTEREST
The campsite area was formerly the labour camp Lager Norderney and some of the wooden huts are from that period.
Pause on the climb to Fort Albert and at the top to enjoy the wonderful sea views.
The fortifications at Bibette Head (just off our path) are a mixture of Victorian and WW2 and open for viewing.
There are a number of WW2 fortifications to be seen next to the path as you climb Essex Hill.

Fort Albert to End (1.2 miles)
Fort Albert to End (1.2 miles)

Start point: 49.7267 lat, -2.1854 long
End point: 49.7232 lat, -2.1998 long

ROUTE
Continue down the road from Fort Albert for 0.4 miles. At the crossroads we find way-marker 35 on the right. We turn right along the road for 0.3 miles, past the football club to find way-marker 36 on our right.

Walk over to behind the road barrier and you will see Braye village across the bay. After 0.4 miles across Braye Common you will come to a crossroads, turn right into Braye Street and after 0.1 miles you will reach the Start/Finish point, beside the Braye Beach Hotel where you can enjoy well-earned refreshments.

POINTS OF INTEREST
Fort Albert is a later Victorian fort, the largest on the island. It is currently used for storing States works equipment and is not open to the public.
The large complex of buildings that you see on the right as you walk down the hill from Albert are the Arsenal barracks and Mount Hale Battery, built concurrently with Fort Albert. The Arsenal is used for private residences.

Continue to the next page for the epilogue...

Epilogue
Epilogue

Start point: 0 lat, 0 long
End point: 0 lat, 0 long

Q. Why does Alderney have so many species of wildflowers?
A. 1,042 species have been counted. Alderney has a wild flower density more than 100 times that of the average UK county and ten times that of the larger Channel Islands. The reason is that Alderney has never been subjected to modern intensive farming and chemical weedkillers and pesticides, making it a haven for both the plants and their pollinators - and of course the many botanist visitors that Alderney attracts.

Q. Why are there so many birds, both species (100 plus) and total numbers (over 10,000 ringed by the Alderney Bird Observatory in 2017)?
A.The geographical position of Alderney, lying just a few miles off the tip of the Normandy Peninsula in the English Channel, means that migrant birds are funneled into this area in large numbers both in spring (when birds are moving northwards to breed) and autumn and early winter (when birds are moving south after the breeding season and west to avoid the cold winters of Continental Europe). Because Alderney also has a largely unspoiled natural environment there is both food and shelter for migrant birds to rest and feed before continuing their journeys. The relatively small size of the island also makes it easy for people to see and enjoy birds here. There are also colonies of birds like puffins and gannets which spend seasons on the island. Visit the Bird Observatory in the Nunnery to learn more.

Q. Why are there so many military fortifications?
A. Alderney has had strategic military importance from Roman times until WW2. The Romans had a settlement with the Nunnery fort and breakwater at Longis Bay. This was to protect coastal shipping from marauding pirates from Gaul. The coastal trade may have included tin and copper from Cornish mines.
Much of the defence building in Tudor times was to give advanced warning of a Spanish Armada. Fast sailing ships were probably kept at both Longis and Braye ready to sail from whichever side the wind favoured to carry news to England.
During Napoleonic times the improved ability to sail into wind meant that Braye became the main port and a lot of forts on the North coast were built or improved.
During the mid 19th century, developments in France caused further worry and Braye Harbour was greatly developed, including the breakwater, and many new forts built.
The years before WW1 saw further alteration and modernisation of the forts was carried out in anticipation of the war.
In 1940 the Channel Islands were de-militarised but no-one thought to tell the Germans before they had bombed and killed 44 civilians. Alderney was evacuated and the Germans used mostly slave labour to build the many bunkers and gun sites that can be seen, and also modified most of the old forts to take modern weaponry.

Bibliography
You can read more about Alderney's fascinating history, flora and fauns at the reference section of the library, including :-

"The Fortifications of Alderney" by Colin Partridge and Trevor Davenport
"The Wildflowers of Alderney": by Brian Jules Bonnard
"The Birds of Alderney" by Jeremy Guy Sanders and Carmen Watson

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by the author RodParis and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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