The Channel Islands UK are this year marking their 70thLiberation Day in May and making it even more special with a 5 week long Heritage Festive running up to the actual date.
Marking the day on May 9th in 1945 when the islands were returned to Britain after Hitler’s troops had invaded them for a 5-year period during World War II.
The group of islands that lay just off the Northern French coast have all come together to make this 70th anniversary even more iconic.
The non-stop programme will include exclusive tours, special openings of historic sites, themed and guided walks, bus and coach tours plus special exhibitions and then ending with huge parades on Liberation Day itself.
The many relics left by the German troops are scattered over every island. All the islands in the group, in fact eight are inhabited they all have bunkers, towers and gun emplacements which are now very much on the tourist trail and are actively searched out by all tourists including the Germans themselves.
The islanders have over years started to repair and bring these huge concrete constructions back into use. Even fitting them out with the help of former troops that once served in them as soldiers or sailors.
The main islands of Jersey and Guernsey boast some of the most perfectly preserved bunkers and tunnel complexes that were once part of ‘Hitler’s Atlantic Wall’. On Guernsey you can find on average, 33 wartime constructions in every square mile of the island that is only 24 square miles in total. Here and in Jersey around ten per cent of Hitler’s total defensive buildings for the Atlantic Wall were built on this tiny island group.
Delighted to have conquered a part of Britain he went well over the top in trying to keep them and even earmarked places to stay in, once he had won the war!
As well as World War II there are castles and defensive buildings peppered all over from the Elizabethan age through to Napoleon. There are Mesolithic sites and Neolithic sites; the Romans were on the islands too.
They left a sunken wooden ship in the main harbour of St Peter Port some artefacts are on display but the ship is undergoing long-term preservation and will go on show after that is completed.
The islands have a great number walks, should that be around the coastal footpaths or along their green lanes. It is a haven for bird watchers, migrating birds use the islands as a stop off it has pastures and wetlands making it suitable for many different species. There are a whole group of experienced and badged tour guides who you could with and they will take you to places of great interest and I would recommend them highly!
The islands are famed for their top class milk production from either Jersey or Guernsey cows, their crops of potatoes and tomato’s have long been exported but they are rather less today, as the disused greenhouses now testify but they are still of very high quality and taste.
The beaches that were once heavily defended with thousands of land mines are now under attack from the wind or kite surfers who flock to use the sometime turbulent wind and sea to great effect for thrilling rides on or over the sea.
With its huge range of sandy beaches its perfect for families and just lovers of being by the sea or that enjoy the clean fresh air that sweeps in from across the 3,000 miles of the Atlantic.
The Channel Islands have much to offer all visitors but it is very hard not to be aware of that period of history and how it affected the people who lived and sadly many who died as a consequence of that invasion back in 1940.
Heritage Festival: http:// www.visitchannelislands.com/
Guernsey… La Colinette Hotel cost from £62pn: http://www.lacollinette.com/
Jersey… St Brelade’s Bay Hotel from £140pn: http://www.stbreladesbayhotel.com/
Inter-island flights cost from £41 one way with Aurigny.
Return flights from Jersey to London Gatwick cost from £71 return with Aurigny.
Flights are also available from London City, Stansted and regional airports with Aurigny.http://www.aurigny.com/