That time we caught a flight to a channel island for a day, then came back in time for a flat viewing and an early night for work the next day..
When? June 2018
With whom? Martin
The amazing thing about our trip to Alderney is that we didn’t have a particularly early start (we left home at 8.30am) and we got back in time to get things in order and ready for Monday (we got back home at 6.30pm).
We drove only half an hour to Blackbush Airport to see all these tiny planes in an airfield. If you’re picturing this then come away from the idea of Gatwick or Heathrow and think of a big park with a small runway and teeny tiny model planes. That’s what they looked like to me.
There was a cafe selling bacon so we thought it would be rude not to eat it while we waited for Stuart, our pilot.
Stu is a really nice guy who didn’t mind explaining plane stuff to us noobs. He took us through the checks that he had to do, explained the weight distribution and warned us that he reads the final checks from a book and that we weren’t to think he was reading a manual and learning to fly.
The inside of the plane was no larger than a small car with two seats in the front and two in the back. Stu and his wife, Jo, took the front seats while Martin and I climbed in the back like excitable children.
The flight was awesome. We flew over some very large and expensive-looking houses with pools, tennis court and a load of land attached and made ourselves feel better about our flat by saying they live so far from anywhere and would take them half an hour to get some milk. This worked until Jo pointed out that their butler probably does it for them. How the other half live.
As we flew very low, at about 3000 feet, we got great views of Portsmouth as we flew over it. There were many large cargo ships on the stretch of sea just outside the Port, Whale Island stood in its naval training glory, and the Spinaca Tower still didn’t look like a sail.
As we flew over the Channel, Stu let us take it in turns to listen to the flight radio, and when we approached Alderney we listened to his use the phonetic alphabet to seek permission to enter Guernsey airspace and leave the London airspace from whence we came.
Landing gave us views of Northern France, and the smaller uninhabitable islands leading up to Alderney. The coast had turquoise water crashing and foaming against the rocky shoreline, the runway close the end of the island. We landed smoothly and parked up as if a car was doing a parallel park.
We arranged our meet up time and Stu told us we needed to be at the airport 5 minutes before our flight! This is way more efficient than airport security requesting you to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours before your flight.
We strolled into the town called St. Anne, which is the only town on the island! This is understandable when you consider it is only 5km long and 2.4km wide!
The bike hire shop owners were really friendly and said that we could leave the bikes at the airport. For a half day hire we paid £8 and that came with helmets, bike locks, and Alan keys in case of emergency.
We cycled up to the top of town which involved a bit of a hill but then the rest was completely downhill to the tip of the island. We stopped off to climb on a German Tank Wall from WWII, and that gave us. Great panorama of the beach.
Our next stop was at the lighthouse where rocks jutted out all the way down to the sea. This was where we decided we would swim. Not the easy access from the beach, no, that would be too sensible. We were going to precariously climb over jagged rocks down to the water. This involved being very careful when climbing over the sharp bits then sliding down on our bums for the smooth bit because it was too steep to walk. At that point I hoped we’d be able to get back up.
The water was cold! We went knee deep and decided that was enough as our legs started to go numb from the temperature.
The next stretch along the coast was a flat road which took us past a couple of completely empty beaches and finally to the bottom of the singular town on the island for our lunch reservation.
We were given the best table on the balcony with a view of the boats in the harbour on one side and the beach on the other as we enjoyed delicious food and another glass of prosecco. Just as I thought I couldn’t eat any more, the restaurant brought out a beautifully decorated cake wishing me a happy birthday! It was so good.
Lunch took a lot longer than we had planned, mostly because we were enjoying the view and the sunshine. Before heading back off to the airport, we thought we would cycle to the end of the pier. It was a bumpy ride on the cobbled pier but there’s something about the smell of the sea that is so appealing and inviting. We admired the boats before realising we only had about 15 minutes to get back to the airfield for our flight.
It was entirely uphill. We cycled for longer than I thought we could manage but eventually we got off and started running, pushing the bikes up the hill. This was actually faster than pedalling and provided the entertainment factor for the local passers by.
We made it to the airport in good time for our flight and enjoyed the views and the landing back in mainland Britain, only half an hour’s drive from home.
Info: the restaurant was Bray and we would definitely recommend it. The staff were really friendly and the food was delish! The bike shop was called and the staff there were so helpful and friendly, and the bike hire was such good value!
Product: the product this week has to be Wingly. You can check the website for flights that are already happening and see if you can tag along, or you can request a destination and if a pilot fancies it and can find you a plane, all systems are go. The latter of these two is obviously more expensive, so if you are flexible with dates and destinations then the former is definitely a more economical option. Our pilot was Stu and he was great. We will be using Wingly again and we will be using Stu when we do.
Tip of the week: ask lots of questions! The bike shop staff were really friendly with the bikes but we asked them whether they had any recommended routes. Both of them were locals and so knew the teeny tiny island well, and gave us some tips about where to go. When there isn’t much info online, these local gems are so great to follow through on.