Wednesday, 6 April 2011

ALDERNEY

It says a lot about the quirky nature of this friendly island, the third largest of the Channel Islands, but with an area of just four and a half square miles, that the airport lounge contains a box of knitting with an invitation to passengers to indulge in the creation of knitted squares while waiting for their flights. In spite of its small size, Alderney still manages to pack in 50 miles of walking paths, making it ideal for anyone wanting to explore the island courtesy of their own legpower. For wildlife enthusiasts, walking and wildlife can easily be combined thanks to the Alderney Wildlife Trust, which organises guided walks. Alderney’s most intriguing four-legged inhabitant is a rare blonde-haired hedgehog which you may glimpse at night if you’re lucky. Meanwhile, for the birdwatchers, there are 260 species of bird, including puffins and gannets.

Alderney has a history stretching back 10,000 years, with evidence of human habitation as far back as Neolithic times. The island also has some Roman remains. Alderney was once part of France, but gained independence in 1204. However, the threat from France was never very far from the minds of the islanders, and in the 19th century there was a big push to fortify the island, not surprisingly since France is visible from Alderney, being only 9 and a half miles away at its closest point. In the 20th century, the islanders’ fears of invasion proved founded, but this time not on the part of the French, but by Germany as, like its neighbours, Alderney was occupied during the Second World War. The island is still dotted with reminders of that time. The capital of Alderney, St Anne, has a population of around 2,000, which is most of the inhabitants of the island. During the War, the Luftwaffe built a bunker and tower in the town, which became the HQ of the German Defence Forces.

For events in Alderney, see here.

Map of Alderney.


File:Alderney - Braye Bay.jpg
Braye Bay.  Photo by Andree Stephan, via Wikimedia Commons

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