The first long sweeping sandy bay you see by air as you are coming into land at Alderney’s quaint airport is Braye Bay. Sheltered by the harbour and famous Victorian Breakwater it is a haven for sailing boats and so as you stroll along its half a mile stretch in the sunshine, there is a stunning view in any direction from Fort Albert on your right at the mouth of the harbour, to the Breakwater itself. If there is a breeze you can always find a spot nestled amongst the grassy dunes or at the old jetty, The Douglas Quay alongside The Braye Beach hotel’s veranda.
It would be unfortunate to visit the island without making the effort to walk on passed Fort Albert and on towards Saye Bay (pronounced Soy like the sauce I have recently been told) Those fortunate enough to be camping nearby can enjoy this stunning bay, where the Black rocks are popular for fishing. This has its own natural protection from any sea breezes with rocks jutting out from either end of the pale sand in a horseshoe shape.
You are spoilt for choice as you walk over the ridge or under the tunnel from the campsite to Corblets Bay. There are some well positioned benches where you can enjoy the view of the Lighthouse and bay, a good spot to eat a picnic bought in the baker in St Annes. This is the more isolated
end of the island and the coastal path to Longis from the other side of the Lighthouse is well worth the effort. For those of you less strenuous you can cut off the corner, taking the road passing the War Memorial and through the golf course. Here there are wonderful views of Braye down on your left and Longis Bay on your right.
Longis Bay is another sweeping sandy bay with Fort de Raz as a centrepiece, with its causeway at low tide. You might think that the sea defences here are quite dramatic until you look into the history and realise that the protective wall, a suntrap and reflector, was built by the Germans during their occupation of the island during the last war. It is near Longis Bay, next to the small garden centre, don’t expect Dobbies here, that you should find The Old Barn Restaurant for Mediterranean style ambiance and refreshments. (It is opening again soon)
Walking behind the garden centre and up towards Essex Castle you can follow the coast cliff top path all the way to Telegraph Bay. When I was a child it was open to the public but the walk down became too dangerous and it was closed. This is unfortunate because at low tide the little sandy coves below are very beautiful. It could also be because the danger of being cut off by the tide and the difficulty of access makes it too unsafe to restore. Having struggled down the recently rebuilt steps at Petit Bot Bay on Guernsey and been rewarded tenfold by reaching the wonderful bay below, in some ways it seems a shame that we cannot now reach Telegraph Bay safely. Nevertheless the view from the top is reward enough and close by you can look out towards Les Etac and the gannets colony.
Platte Saline and Crabby Bay look out over towards the Swinge and without the protection of the Breakwater you are open to the elements here. The contrast though, on this side of the island has its own beauty, with the rough inhospitable waters of the Swinge along to Fort Clonque, an imposing fort with a causeway which is also easy to spot as your time on Alderney has come to an end and you take off once more.