Kate de Bass
Family Travels with Pipity - Adventures on Alderney
Updated: Apr 6, 2022
We’re just back from a fab family holiday, staying at Fort Clonque, an amazing Landmark Trust property, on the beautiful island of Alderney, the northern gem of the Channel Islands! A chance to step back in time, in more ways than one… Fort Clonque is steeped in history and has numerous stories to immerse yourself in during your stay. There’s no TV or wi-fi, and the atmospheric setting fired the children’s imaginations. They were happy exploring the fort and surrounding rocks, climbing, crabbing and creating games. We all got stuck into some good old fashioned family entertainment; card games, board games, jigsaws and Pipity kept us happily entertained with crafty activities, games and puzzles. With no direct ferry to the island, Alderneys relative inaccessibility lends the island an untouched charm and feel of bygone days.
Our party of ten arrived at Southampton airport first thing on Monday morning with great anticipation and excitement about our 40 minute flight on the ‘flying bananna’ a small twin prop Aurigny plane. However, shortly after being informed that flights were going to be delayed due to fog over the islands, we were taxied up to Gatwick and then flown out to Guernsey, on a more substantial aircraft! With no sign of the fog lifting we were put up in a hotel overnight, and then finally embarked on an exciting 15 min flight between the islands on the Trislander the following morning. Aurigny provided excellent customer service throughout our adventure to reach Alderney, something they’re accustomed to dealing with we learnt to appreciate.
Ray ‘Fort Clonques’ manager met us at the airport and took all our bags, and we set off on foot, through St Annes cobbled streets, and towards the Fort. The imposing building set amongst an outcrop of rocks and at the end of a causeway, which is covered at high tide, made an awesome impression as we approached. On arrival we raised the flag, whilst the kids tooted the tuneless bugle to signal we’d safely crossed the causeway and were in residence. We explored the Fort, from the comfortable officers quarters which housed the kitchen and sitting room, to the Nazi ‘casement’, once a gun turret and now a comfortable bedroom with impressive views over the rocky shoreline. With our noisy crew charging around, we appreciated our remote location, and abundance of space to find a quiet nook to enjoy our books.
Only 3 ½ miles long we explored the stunning island on foot, following the rugged coastal path, discovering beautiful cliffs and islands including Les Etacs, a rock alive with 2% of the worlds gannet population. Forts and historical building in various states of repair around every bend. We played and relaxed on the stunning Saye Bay, educated ourselves about Alderney in the islands Museum and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Jacks Bistro. The islanders were welcoming and friendly and fabulous food and wine was easy to order and have delivered from the farm shop and island off license.
With clear skies on our last day our exit was easier than our arrival, and we left relaxed and recharged, feeling like we’d stepped back in time, immersing ourselves in a simpler (and better) world.