east herts ramblers

Isle of Wight 2018

Isle of Wight Saturday 8th September to Saturday 15th September 2018.

7 members from the group stayed at the HF house at Freshwater Bay. The house is large and was fully booked with 60 plus people from all over the world including America, Canada, Australia, South Africa, many European countries and obviously the UK. Because of the high numbers rather than the usual three walks each day an extra fourth one was included.

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Freshwater Bay House Freshwater Bay

Apart from one day this article summarises the longer walks.

The first walking day (Sunday) we started from Freshwater Bay for a circuit of the western tip of the island. We walked along the Yar Valley towards Yarmouth, turning west just before the ferry terminal. The coastal walk provided views of the UK mainland towards Lymington and in the distance the Dorset coast. Highlights were the historical forts of Hurst Castle (a view across to the mainland), Fort Victoria (a coffee stop) and the Needles Old and New Battery. There was no time to visit but to view from a distance and the Needles themselves, a well-known landmark on the Island. It was an enjoyable final trek across Tennyson Downs, with a stop to admire the imposing Tennyson Monument, which overlooks Freshwater Bay.

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The Needles The Tennyson Monument      View towards Freshwater Bay          

 On the second walking day (Monday) we started near Godshill towards the south of the island after a longish drive from the Freshwater Bay. The walk took in the tops of Stendbury Down and St Bonaface, which are the highest points of the island. Highlights of the walk were tremendous views across the Solent to the mainland, the Worsely Monument and a lollypop lady in Wroxhall stopping the traffic for us!

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The Worseley Monument The Downs along the Worseley Trail         Assistance from a Lollypop Lady!        

 On the third day (Tuesday) the extra 4th walk was a couple of miles shorter than the longer walk.  We drove to Carisbrooke and walked the Tennyson Trail all the way back to Freshwater Bay. In theory this should have had spectacular views across the Solent to the north and the English Channel to the south. In practice it was a disappointing walk as a heavy mist rolled in, and we could barely see more than a few hundred yards at best for most of the walk.  One of those days when it is all pain and no gain. The only highlight I can recall is seeing Freshwater Bay House towards at the end of the walk!

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A misty Tennyson Trail Freshwater Bay emerging from the Mist      

Wednesday was a rest day, where those staying 4 nights depart and new arrivals for the remaining 3 nights arrive. For those staying the full week this was a day to rest, walk or do some sightseeing at the places glimpsed from the previous days’ walks. Many took the bus to Newport and then to Osborne House.

On the fourth walking day we enjoyed a predominantly coastal walk along the length of the Undercliff on the south coast from Whale Chine to Shanklin Old village. We had spectacular cliff top views, dipping down to coastal villages before the inevitable ascent again. Without a doubt the best lunch stop views we had all week, sitting on the rocks eating our sandwiches at Steephill Cove. 


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 St Catherine's Point looking east St Catherine's Lighthouse Lunch at Steephill Cove

 For the final walk of the week there was a short bus trip to Compton Farm to the east of Freshwater Bay, then ascending to Compton Down walking along the down to Brook Down towards the Longstone.  The Longstone marked the entrance to a long-since destroyed Neolithic long barrow. From there we descended to the sea, the remainder of the walk being coastal westwards towards Freshwater Bay. There was plenty of evidence of coastal erosion, passing an abandoned holiday camp with paths overhanging the cliff, and sections where the path had been diverted away from the erosion. 

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Coffee at the Longstone     Coastal Erosion at Brightstone Approach to Freshwater Bay

All in all it was a great walking holiday, with plenty of varied scenery and terrain from downs to clifftop to coastal path. We had enjoyable company with like-minded walkers from all over the world. I would highly recommend it.

David Glass


Wednesday, January 16, 2019