Vau du Saou

A compact coastal site, running from rocky shoreline, to cliff-top valley and on to abandoned fields. At its heart rests the Countryside Interpretation Centre, now forever known as the Wildlife Bunker.

The Vau du Saou nature reserve was established by a memorandum of understanding between the AWT, the States of Alderney and two private landowners in 2004. The reserve covers an area of seven hectares, and contains Alderney’s last substantial area of coastal cliff-top valley habitat.

The woodland of Vau du Saou is made up of a mix of deciduous native trees - including ash and elder - large conifers, and native bluebells, which combine to create a truly atmospheric place to go walking.  The reserve contains the AWT’s Countryside Interpretation Centre, otherwise known as the “Wildlife Bunker”, which is held within the two-metre thick walls of a World War Two German bunker.  It contains information and displays on the island’s wildlife and military history, and was the first such site opened in the Channel Islands. The Wildlife Bunker is open all year round.

 

Habitats

Coastal cliff-top valley, coastal heathland, scrub woodland, scrub grassland, cliff face, intertidal rockpools.

Species

Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Raven, Wheatear, Chiffchaff, Great Tit 

Slow worm, Greater White-toothed Shrew, Wood Mouse, Western European Headgehog (including the blonde or leucistic form) 

Large Tortoiseshell, Small Copper, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Red Admiral

Native Bluebell, Foxglove, Wood Sage, Honeysuckle, Butcher's Broom, a wide array of native fungi including Jew's (or Jelly) Ear.

 

Facilities

 

A small coastal reserve, the Vau du Saou was taken on by the Alderney Wildlife Trust (AWT) in response to the States of Alderney's desire to see it kept open to the public, whilst ensuring that human disturbance was kept to a minimum. 

Therefore it is a site with fixed trails, which can often be steep and difficult to negotiate, but it also includes a section of the island's main coastal path and the AWT's largest countryside visitors' centre:

  • less than 1 mile of reserve trail, but includes 350m of the main coastal footpath
  • the 'Wildlife Bunker' a converted WWII communications bunker which contains, historical reconstruction and information displays, a seabird observation point, wildlife displays, public seating. The site is open 24/7 and is powered by a solar lighting system.