Small Islands of Alderney

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Burhou  - Burhou is a small uninhabited island just over a mile north west of Alderney. It is approximately half a mile long and a fifth of a mile wide. Burhou is a bird sanctuary which is home to 11 species of breeding birds including a colony of puffins.

The Guernsey botanist E. D. Marquand called it, "the most desolate and lonely of all the islands in our archipelago." 

Ortac – Ortac is an uninhabited island approximately 5 km from Alderney. Together with the Casquets, Ortac and Alderney are part of the same sandstone ridge.

Ortac is approximately 50 meters by 70 meters, and rises to about 79 feet above sea level. It houses the most southerly colony of gannets. Over 6,000 breeding pairs have been recorded in the area.

Les Casquets – Les Casquets is a group of rocks just over 8 miles northwest from Alderney. They form part of an underwater sandstone ridge that also includes the islets of Burhou and Ortac.

Several ships have been wrecked in the area and, as a result a series of lighthouses have been built in the area. The first started operation in 1724, it was formed of three towers lit by coal fires called St Peter, St Thomas and the Dungeon. The towers were built to distinguish them from lighthouses in nearby France. These lights have been superseded several times since then and, while the three original towers are still in use, only the North West Tower shines a light. It was automated in 1990.

Les Casquets have been immortalised several times in literature. Victor Hugo, wrote in his novel The Laughing Man (L'Homme qui Rit):

"To be wrecked on the Casquets is to be cut into ribbons; to strike on the Ortac is to be crushed into powder... On a straight frontage, such of that of the Ortac, neither the wave nor the cannon ball can ricochet... if the wave carries the vessel on the rock she breaks on it, and is lost..."

In addition Swinburne wrote a poem called Les Casquets, which is based on a family, who lived on the islets. The family was originally from Alderney, and the poem describes their life on Les Casquets. The poem describes the daughter falling in love with someone from Alderney, and finding life, upon moving to the larger island, too busy. She finds the "small bright streets of serene St Anne" and "the sight of the works of men" too much and returns to Les Casquets.