Channel Islands^

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Mark R
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Channel Islands^

Post by Mark R » Mon May 03, 2010 9:33 am

Considering a trip there as a Whitsun option - I'm especially interested in Alderney, which is (I think) the least accessible bit. Other highlights?

Any experience of taking kayaks on the cross-channel or inter-island ferries? How do we get kayaks to Alderney, short of paddling?

Any thoughts welcome.
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Phil Hk
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Phil Hk » Mon May 03, 2010 9:52 am

It's a brilliant archipelago to paddle from the reefs to the south of Jersey to Alderney in the north. The tidal range gives the area a very exciting dimension - intriguing coastal trips, races, short(ish) crossings (Jersey - Ecrehou), longish crossings (Jersey - Sark - Guernsey - Alderney). I have always thought of it as the perfect example of the advanced yet urban sea kayakers dream...in a week's paddling I did a full on trip every day, could have had a pint in a pub every night and used a public loo every morning. Ken Mansell is the guy to talk to - his website seems to be down at moment, http://www.blogger.com/profile/17139188935343575463, but I can give you contact details if you cannot get through to him.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by TechnoEngineer » Mon May 03, 2010 11:30 am

Rock hopping and exporing caves around Greve de Lecq, in Jersey, is great fun. Paddling around Sark is something I'd like to do, that's a fantastic little island.
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by CaptainSensible » Mon May 03, 2010 11:59 am

Kevin Mansell's main seapaddler site is down/being re-worked at the moment (because the old site got hacked, I think), but you can still follow whatever he is doing on his blog. He recently got stuck in Canada courtesy of the Guðnasteinn volcano (Eyjafjallajoekull is the name of the glacier that lies on top of it). He is a member here - LINK

Derek Hairon (co-director of Jersey Kayak Adventures and author of Pesda's Sit-on-Top Kayak) is also a member here - LINK.

I've not been able to do much off-island paddling (and no inter-island paddling) due to illness (my progress/journey has been a lot slower than I hoped), but I do know that people exploit the huge tides around here to get them from Guernsey to Alderney and back relatively easily, although it can be a bit of a wild/express ride from what I've been told. You cover the distance very quickly.

I didn't encounter any problems whilst taking my boat on the (slow) ferry as a foot passenger when I collected it from Rockpool, but I was a unique/rare case (i.e. someone with a three piece boat). Lots of people on this forum have travelled with boats to our club's bi-annual symposium (which is soon, so some Jersey paddlers/club members will be busier than usual), so there should be plenty of people with advice to give.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Jonathan. » Tue May 04, 2010 8:55 am

I took the ferry to last year's Guernsey symposium and initially hoped to travel with my kayak as a foot passenger; I hardly needed a car on the island and shipping one there is expensive.

But I ended up putting my boat on my car roof as travelling with a car seemed to be the only way I could be sure of getting on the ferry; Condor Ferries was not encouraging about a kayak + foot passenger combination. I made three or four phone calls to the ferry company because I thought the booking office rulebook unnecessarily tight. I also hoped the loaders at the dock might be more lenient, but in the end decided not to take the chance.

Had I lived nearer Weymouth or Poole I might have risked it and tried saving myself three hundred quid or so. If you want to do that, then the big ferry is probably a better bet than the smaller catamaran where space may be at more of a premium. But remember - your luck and/or charm have to work both directions.
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by maryinoxford » Tue May 04, 2010 10:22 am

CaptainSensible wrote:courtesy of the Guðnasteinn volcano (Eyjafjallajoekull is the name of the glacier that lies on top of it)
I wish you hadn't told me that. After a couple of recent documentaries, I had just about learned to pronounce Eyjafjallajoekull...

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CaptainSensible
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by CaptainSensible » Tue May 04, 2010 7:50 pm

Well, it's a double act. Without the glacier on top of it, the magma from the volcano would not be not cooled so rapidly and the solidified lava (magma that has reached the surface of the Earth) would be less glassy. It's the shattering of this glassy lava/vitrified magma (called hyaloclastite) that creates the superfine abrasive particulates that pose a risk to aircraft.

I think (I'm not a geologist).

So blaming the disruption on the glacier isn't wholly incorrect.

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Jim
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Jim » Tue May 04, 2010 8:54 pm

So is the Glacier receding?

If so does that make the Volcano proof of global warming?

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Tue May 04, 2010 9:00 pm

Jonathan, I had the same experience today. After discussion with the ferry folk, I also gained the impression that trolleying boats...

- would be a PITA and not hugely welcome
- would not save us much/any money anyway

... so I booked for a car with four of us to Guernsey, half term week. I went right ahead as apparently the half term ferries are nearly full.

A new adventure planned and booked - woohoo!
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Owen » Tue May 04, 2010 9:09 pm

The glacier is melting if its not already gone. Basaltic magma ~ 1300 degrees C, glacier ice ~ - 10 - 20 degrees C. It's when the two meet that things get interesting.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Jonathan. » Wed May 05, 2010 8:21 am

I had the impression that a lot of the Guernsey coast is very built up - which could make camping tricky.

But one place where you should have no trouble wild-camping is on Lihou http://www.lihouisland.com/, just to the west of Guernsey. The island has plenty of space, only one building (a field studies centre where Richard, the warden, is himself a keen kayaker), and it could be a great base for some brilliant trips.

At neaps Lihou is particularly good as it gets cut off from the main island so there are no casual visitors to intrude.
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by TechnoEngineer » Wed May 05, 2010 1:21 pm

Is it possible to camp on Herm? Herm is not far from Guernsey and it shouldn't take long to paddle there?
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by CaptainSensible » Wed May 05, 2010 5:03 pm

The only problem with camping on Lihou is that you might never want to leave! It's a fantastic place.

You can camp on Herm. It's new owners have a comprehensive website - LINK.

Paddling from Guersney to Herm/Jethou (two nautical miles) or Sark (six nautical miles from Guernsey, three from Herm/Jethou) will involve a big ferry glide (tide flows North/South) if you cannot get across during slack water, but you'll have to ask the people who have done that paddle about any risks associated with that.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Wed May 05, 2010 8:19 pm

I've found that there are campsites on all the sizeable islands we want to visit. Weather will determine the trip as always, but my dream schedule would involve heading right up to Alderney on arrival at Guernsey, returning south via Sark/Herm and maybe getting down to Jersey for a few days too.

Fingers crossed for a week of uninterrupted good weather - never yet had it on a Whitsun sea paddling trip, but I can dream...
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Sat May 08, 2010 9:40 am

Do you think that we'd be able to just 'arrive' on Lihou, or is a prior phonecall/booking needed?

I'm also looking at the available 'official' camping options on the islands, and those on Jersey and Guernsey seem a bit grim - inland and reeking of Caravan Camping Club despotism...any comments on any of the sites?

Any thoughts on a good place to dump the car on Guernsey?

Any other advice welcome.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by CaptainSensible » Sat May 08, 2010 10:07 am

Lihou is open to the public (only the house is off-limits/requires a booking), but there is often nobody there apart from people who are staying in the house because the tidal causeway is often only open at night. You'd have to brave to try and walk across at night; the causeway is ancient/non-existant in places and the last part of the walk involves wading through knee deep seaweed (there used to be an iodine factory there). The warden/Richard usually drives a tractor across.

People from the Jersey Canoe Club have often opted to sleep in tents/under the stars instead of stay in the house when the Club (or the nascent Lihou/Guernsey symposium) have booked the house, but it is probably worth giving Richard a call/email to see if camping is allowed without a booking.

They have also left cars in the car park opposite Lihou for the entire weekend.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by TechnoEngineer » Sat May 08, 2010 6:40 pm

Mark R wrote:those on Jersey and Guernsey seem a bit grim - inland and reeking of Caravan Camping Club despotism...any comments on any of the sites?
Don't camp at Bleu Soleil in Jersey, it's a horrible place run by opportunists where the tents are too close together. Beuvelande looks like a better site (had a look there but didn't stay). The Prince of Wales is a reasonable place to stay at Greve de Lecq, close to the beach with a big public car park opposite. There is a smaller hotel about 100m up the hill, though I can't remember its name....(Des Pierres?)

We did all our Jersey travel arrangements with "3X travel" who did a pretty good price on the ferries.
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Jonathan. » Sun May 09, 2010 10:16 pm

You'd probably be fine just turning up on Lihou.

But alerting Richard, the warden, would do no harm at all; he might appreciate it, and you'd find him helpful with local info, and - if you're lucky - hot showers. I can't remember for sure but the house is probably the only place you'll get fresh water on Lihou.

Richard's contact details are on the island website.
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Wed May 12, 2010 7:15 pm

I note that the Channel Islands aren't under the usual UK Coastguard regime - can/do paddlers raise them on VHF and outline trip plans?
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by CaptainSensible » Wed May 12, 2010 7:46 pm

They can & do. Whenever the Club organises an 'offshore' paddle (usually to the Paternosters reef, or the Ecrehous), someone lets our Coastguard know where we've gone and when we expect to get back.

Beuveland is a nice campsite (link). A large portion of the people who came to the Jersey Symposium a couple of years ago stayed there, and I suspect that a similar number of people will be staying there again at the end of the month.

It does look very caravany, but people had the option of pitching up in relatively undeveloped fields versus the fixed pitches/caravan spaces when I worked there one summer and had a good chance to look around the place. However, that was a long time ago.

I'll have another look the next time I pass by there. It's not far from where one of my brothers lives and lies off the route I take to get to the clubhouse, but it's unlikely that I'll passing by there before next Tuesday.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by ChrisS » Wed May 12, 2010 10:08 pm

Channel Islands coastguard services:
Guernsey
Jersey

The Beuveland campsite is inland but they have excellent facilities including very good showers etc. and there always seems to be plenty of room.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Wed May 19, 2010 7:38 pm

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Jersey Kayak » Wed May 19, 2010 11:27 pm

icking up on a few of the threads

Alderney.
Possible to ship from Southampton to Alderney or Jersey /Guernsey with Huelin Renouf shipping. http://www.huelin-renouf.com/
This certainly has some advantages as the paddle up to Alderney can be weather prone and you need a good window to do both ways. If you are pushed for time and the forecasts are a bit varied I would focus on Herm/Sark/Guernsey options. Getting stuck on Alderney could be a hassle.

I've paddled up a couple times via Sark from Jersey. A committing paddle. Make sure you make the “break out” at Alderney unless you want to visit Cherburg!

Big Gannetry off the SW of the island. Burhou is restricted as it is a nature reserve. Casquets light-tide has virtually no slack. Both the Swinge and Alderney race are fast.

Southbound routing to Guernsey/Sark/Jersey are fast. I did the 35m run to Jersey in 5 hours.

Sark

The Little and Great Russell are both good crossings.
Gouilot caves are a must. The island is riddled with caves and sea arches. Landing at the N end of the island at the first settlers landing pint is a possible bivvi spot. I've also bivied on the beaches and in the tunnel and top of the shed at Creux harbour. You can get a tractor to take your kit up to the camp-site.
It is possible to freight kayaks to and from Sark with isle of Sark shipping but best to check with them before turning up. The Manche ilse service Jersey- Sark and Vice versa is not reliable and often cancels due to weather.

Guernsey.
South coast cliffs are good but parking can be a problem on some of the tiny south coast bays.
The north end of the island is a nice paddle. Look out for loads of forts.
Everywhere is easy access from the camp-sites if you have a car.
We have used trolleys with kayaks onto the Guernsey-Jersey Condor ferry having booked in person at the ferry port. There is a slow conventional ferry option.

Jersey.
Les Ecrehous. A Ramsar site so camping is not a good idea.
Greve De lecq westwards to Plemont is a voluntary stay clear zone due to a few Puffin nests.
A few possible camp spots around the island including the Canoe Club cottage at l'Egypte.
Seymour tower parapet is public so is ok to camp the night.

Tides can be up to 11m
Coastguard services in the Channel islands are good. Mobile phone coverage is around 95% and even under cliffs you may get a signal via one of the other islands. Watch out if it is French operators as it will be roaming.
Each island has different laws. There are very few instances of kayak kit getting stolen.

A few kayak photos of Jersey, Sark, Les Ecrehous. Les Minquiers are here.http://gallery.jerseykayakadventures.co.uk/main.php
Aerial video of Jersey coastline: http://www.jerseykayakadventures.co.uk/go/videos/

Guernsey kayaking http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=1 ... 3329850492

Give me a call if you get as far as Jersey as we can arrange transport.

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by sprintpaddler » Wed May 19, 2010 11:43 pm

Mark, Your most likely aware but remember that the Channel Islands are not part of the EU, & there`s no NHS cover, so be well insured. Read some horror stories about folk having to spent a fortune because they were unaware of the situation.

Cheers,
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Blue Frog » Mon May 24, 2010 6:53 pm

Thoughgt i'd throw a little info in....

My mum and sister both live in Guernsey, so ive been there a few times.

There is plenty of parking where ever you go on the island ive found. Herm is a must visit ! I was on shell beach there a few years back with my wife. There was a french boat just off the island. If your going across to herm on a kayak, be sure to watch out for the rocks (the side that faces the Barclay brothers island)

There are plenty of campsites all around the island. Ferry wise you probably have more chance of getting kayaks on the slow ferry that the fast one (slow one goes the jersey & guernsey)

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Wed May 26, 2010 7:10 pm

Thanks for all the really useful info posted - can't wait to get on the ferry now...
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 06, 2010 8:33 am

Just returned from an outstanding week of paddling - the Channel islands were a total revelation/surprise in every way (I mean in a good way), I just can't believe I haven't been before, having lived practically within reach for 15 years.

Pics to follow...
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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 06, 2010 1:55 pm

Not exactly the mental image I had of the Channel Islands...

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by Mark R » Sun Jun 06, 2010 4:42 pm

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Re: Channel Islands

Post by David A » Sun Jun 06, 2010 5:37 pm

Hi Mark, a fantastic set of pics that seem to capture some of the atmosphere of your trip. It looks as though the weather Gods looked favourably on you?

Big Wave Dave.

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