Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands and, despite lying just 8 miles off Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula its relative inaccessibility ensures that it is a peaceful backwater where the pace of life is slow, visitors are sparse and the locals most welcoming! Despite its small size - approximately 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide - the island’s rich tapestry of habitats merits close attention from the keen naturalist. In spring northbound bird migration will be in full swing and the island will be adorned with colourful flowers. As spring progresses to summer the seabirds will be back in their nesting colonies offshore and butterflies and moths will be on the wing. In autumn, southbound birds (perhaps including a rarity or two!), together with migrant moths, butterflies and dragonflies, enrich the island’s natural history. After a scenic flight from Southampton we’ll be based for four nights at the splendid and well-appointed Braye Beach Hotel. We’ll explore the island’s diverse patchwork of habitats on foot, and by minibus, in search of raptors, Gannet colonies and other seabirds. We’ll also have a chance to enjoy some moth-trapping and bat-detecting, as well as to look for some of Alderney’s thriving population of Hedgehogs, many of which are leucistic (or ‘Blonde’ Hedgehogs) on this relaxing 5-day break.
• Stay at the delightful 4-star Braye Beach Hotel, which has fabulous views
• Explore the island, mainly on foot, covering a leisurely 2 to 3 miles each day
• Peregrine, Buzzard, Raven & Dartford Warbler among the island’s special birdlife
• Visit Gannet colonies (holding some 2% of the world population) on Les Etacs & Ortac
• Boat excursion if weather permits to view Gannet colonies, other seabirds & marine-life
• Enjoy bat-detecting & moth-trapping!
• Flights to & from the mainland included in the cost of this holiday
• Learn about Alderney’s remarkable history
• Led by expert naturalist guides
Bed and breakfast only is included in the cost of this holiday. The cost of lunches and dinners is not included since each day's itinerary is planned to enable group members to take a break either at the Braye Beach Hotel, or at one of Alderney's many pubs or restaurants where a choice of lunch, snacks and drinks will be available to suit individual preferences.
Sparkling 4-star hotel commanding fabulous views over the bay. All rooms en-suite.
Day 1 Fly Alderney and trasfer to hotel.
Day 2/4 Daily programme of natural history walks and excursions around Alderney.
Alderney is the most northerly of the Channel Islands and, despite lying just 8 miles off Normandy’s Cotentin Peninsula, it is, strangely, the least accessible. No scheduled ferry service links the island with either the mainland of France or England, or with any other island, and herein lies its charm — it is a peaceful backwater where the pace of life is slow, visitors are sparse and the locals most welcoming.
Just over 3.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, it is possible to walk around Alderney in a day. However, for the naturalist, the island’s rich tapestry of habitats is deserving of much more time. In spring the island will be carpeted with a wonderful display of flowers, the seabirds will be back on their offshore nesting islets and birds will be migrating northward with the chance of a rarity or two! Butterflies and moths emerge as the spring moves in to summer with the chance of unusual species such as Large Tortoiseshell, Glanville Fritillary and Long-tailed Blue. By early autumn the island is at its peaceful best and given favourable weather, a wealth of southbound birds, together with migrant moths, butterflies and dragonflies, enrich the island’s natural history.
On this holiday we will explore Alderney on foot, supported, when required, by the local island minibus. Our leisurely walks will each cover 2 to 3 miles and will enable us to explore the island’s patchwork of grazing pastures, wooded valleys, flower-filled grasslands and dunes, small ponds, marshes and heaths, often from cliff-top paths accessing spectacular coastal scenery. From the latter we should see Peregrines, Buzzards, Ravens, Dartford Warblers and seabirds, including the spectacular Gannet colonies on Les Etacs and Ortac (between them hosting over 8,000 pairs — 2% of the world’s population). If the weather is good, an optional boat trip out to enjoy at least one of these colonies — as well as other seabirds and marine-life — will be a highlight of this holiday. Using local experts we will also offer you the chance to enjoy moth-trapping, bat-detecting and sightings of some of Alderney’s thriving population of Hedgehogs, many of which are leucistic (or ‘Blonde’ Hedgehogs).
Additionally on this holiday, which will be escorted by a local expert as well as all-round naturalist David Shute, our focus will extend to cover some of the remarkable history of Alderney. Indeed, as we walk around the island, it is impossible not to be struck by its wealth of monuments from the past, whether it be the Roman fort at Longis Bay, the 13th century Bonne Terre Watermill, the commanding stone harbour and forts of the Victorians, or the extraordinary concrete defences and bunkers built by the Germans during their occupation of Alderney between 1940 and 1945.
To reach Alderney one must either fly via Guernsey or take the direct scheduled service from Southampton airport aboard a 14-seat Trislander or 18-seat Dornier 228 — a flight that offers fabulous views over the south coast’s expansive estuaries, the New Forest and the Isle of Wight if the weather is clear (the cost of which is included in the price of this holiday). Once there, we will be based in the splendid Braye Beach Hotel, a sparkling 4-star hotel commanding fabulous views over the bay and its idyllic white sandy beach. For those wishing for a little time off from our programme, the hotel’s bar, terrace and superior rooms offer perfect spots in which to relax and absorb the views!
Easy flight, short transfer. Small island so easy to see and travel around. Good guides.
Martin and David were extremely helpful, friendly and approachable about anything and everything. We particularly liked meeting local Alderney residents with a passion for certain wildlife. The "Moth Man" and "Hedgehog Lady". The lunch watching the Gannets at Les Etacs in wonderful weather was very relaxing. Hotel excellent.
Very easy travel - good connections, fast transfer and minibuses available. Good mix of activities and easy going style. All round natural history interest plus history made this enjoyable for a couple with different priorities. No problem to opt out for a day or half day. All the guides were very friendly, personable and knowledgeable.
It worked very well combining both the history and natural history of the island. I really enjoyed this. I also enjoyed the involvement of local people. The young girl with the moth trap and the hedgehog woman. The highlight for me was the boat trip around the island.