Channel Hopping

In the early hours of this morning we returned from a wonderful trip to the Channel Islands. It was all the more excellent because in truth, we had had no idea what to expect and what we found was a real revelation.

Trip was decided on at short notice, what with Scotland (our originally planned destination) being bloody miles away and us suddenly realising that there were islands only 60-80 miles (a two hour ferry ride) from our house that we’d never visited. After a bit of web research, my personal priority was to visit Alderney…and indeed, in the event, I was not disappointed by the place…

Group was a few female friends, plus some token Welshmen who decided to ditch their planned Scottish trip and join us. Paddling ability and experience was mixed, but everyone coped fine with what proved to be some fairly serious paddling jaunts and some occasionally intimidating conditions.

Friday – everyone turned up at our place in Dorset and went to bed.

Saturday – several hours after going to bed, we all got up again and drove to the ferry terminal at Weymouth for the 6 am sailing. The Seacat whizzed us to St Peter Port on Guernsey, where we disembarked in wind and rain and (the first of many surreal not-quite-England experiences) had breakfast in a French-speaking boulangerie. We spent the morning sorting food and kit and deciding where/ when to launch (there is a good chandlery and kayak shop in Sampson). After a bit of research, we turned up at the Beaucette Marina at the north tip of the island (a flooded quarry with a channel blasted through to the sea) and enquired about parking and launching. Despite the fact that the place was filled with chic superyachts, they invited us to go ahead and use the place as we pleased, free of charge. So…we launched late afternoon to cross to Herm Island. It’s only a short crossing, but it involves strong tides and the wind was blowing a grim Force 5-6. We just about made it to Herm, where island staff met us and tractored our gear up the hill to the campsite. I returned from a walk to find my tent festooned with balloons…it was my 40th birthday, as if I needed reminding.

 

More on this in my next blog post…