Alderney. Sea kayaking in the Channel islands

Longis bay at low tide.Sea kayaks on beach

Longis bay and Fort Ile de Raz at low tide

I organised another successful sea kayaking adventure to Alderney over the long Bank holiday weekend. The weather was quite a mixture and ranged from fog to force 6 winds and rain. Just what you’d expect when sea kayaking around the most northerly Channel island.

One of the surprising things is just how sheltered the eastern coast of Alderney is, even in a north east wind. Even the Alderney race looked okay and it probably blocks lot of swell getting ashore. Conversely, the Swinge was tanking along and pretty lumpy.

The weekend included sea kayak tours out of Longis Bay and Braye Harbour. This was part of the Alderney Wild Life Trust 10th anniversary events and an opportunity for both locals and visitors to discover sea kayaking on Alderney. I was assisted by the Sarah the Conservation officer form the Trust.

Gannet nesting site Alderney

Gannet rocks

As a warm up our ‘short’ paddle along the south coast cliffs of Alderney tuned into a round the island trip. This was a classic case of suggesting we go round just one more headland, until it seemed logical to just carry on round.

For some reason on two out of the three times I’ve paddled around Alderney it has been in fog. This made for a very atmospheric paddle along the south coast of the island, especially near the old quarry at Cachaliere which looks very out of place at the foot of the cliffs.

As usual the tide streams were heading in directions they seem to decide each day.

Highlight was the Gannet rocks off the south west coast. This is the main Gannet nesting sites in the Channel islands apart from the nearby rock at Ortac.

Gannets on rocks

Gannets

Thousands of Gannets nest here. Virtually every Gannet seen in Channel Island waters will have flown down from Alderney. Until the 1940’s there were few reports of Gannets nesting around Alderney. There is a a suggestion the Gannets arrived on Alderney from Lundy -which was being used as a wartime military firing range and testing site. Radio tracking tests on Alderney  Gannets has demonstrated that they can travel over very large distances.

Another highlight was spotting Seals off the north east coast of the island along with a few caves to explore.

Brinchetais ledges were running well. A few of the group were impressed with the flow of water and  did not need much encouragement to give it a go. Just treat it like a river and keep paddling…

tide race on Alderney

Inspecting Brinchetais ledges before we paddled it

A paddle across to Burhou was very tempting, but we’d not planned to make the trip,  and by the time we were in the right spot to make a crossing we had missed the tide. Next time….

Read more about sea kayaking in Alderney in this guide I wrote for Ocean Paddler Magazine.

Derek Hairon