Tuesday 16th May, 2000 47 miles
We had plenty of time to get ready for our 10 days in the Isle of Wight. We had expected to have to drive to Iver to pick up Simon's mended car, but had had it delivered to us. It was a beautiful day with a strong breeze. Emma had been staying for a few days and enjoying the sunshine as she approached her last month of pregnancy.
We had contemplated leaving early and stopping somewhere on the way, but nothing obvious sprung to mind. We decided to leave in plenty of time, to have tea before boarding the ferry at Southampton for 8.00 pm.
Everywhere looked fresh and green as we drove through Newbury (forgot about the bypass!) and headed south.
We had a hold up as we joined the M3, but continued to Southampton which looked very pleasant as we drove through. We found the ferry terminal easily and adjacent to it a place where we could park beside Southampton Water and enjoy our tea. By now, however, it was cloudy and grey and felt very cool. We sat inside and watched as people wandered by, eating ice creams and not appearing to mind the cold wind. It was nice to see some bits of old town wall and other ancient things behind us as we proceeded to the ferry terminal. The ferry was uncrowded. We sat at the "front" and watched the lovely view as we travelled down Southampton Water and across the Solent. The sky cleared again, with lovely pinky grey hues. The sun appeared and highlighted different boats and a misty vertical rainbow appeared before us. I continued with my knitting and we both enjoyed this tranquil crossing.
9 o'clock saw us coming into East Cowes. Straight off the boat and a few minutes drive away we came to Waverley Park Holiday Centre. Adrian had telephoned yesterday to make sure we could stay here. Our first impression wasn't favourable. Another couple from Bridlington, who arrived off the boat with us, felt similarly – lots of statics and everything including reception, closed. It felt really cold now. I left the others to sort things out – they found a man who directed us to the "touring" area. We were just in time to appreciate the tremendous view from the front of the cab, across the water to the lights of Fawley. It looked even more impressive as darkness fell. An early night after my very early start as I had been awake and gone for an early morning walk in the woods at 5 o'clock!.
Isle of Wight
Wednesday 17th May 20 miles
It was windy in the night, but nice and snug in the van. We breakfasted inside then left and drove the short distance to Osborne House. Adrian had picked up several leaflets on the island at the campsite reception.
We had tea/coffee and one of my rock cakes before entering Osborne House. We paid our money (£6.90 each) and decided to visit the house first. This appeared not to be a good idea, as everyone else seemed to visiting it! The people appeared to be either OAPs or groups of schoolchildren (which were we?) It was good to be visiting this place of historic importance, but we hated having to wait amongst the queues of people. I like to walk through these places at my own speed – bypass the things of little interest to me. There were paintings everywhere. I liked the child portraits, particularly some of Victoria's children, inlaid into a cabinet. However we both really liked the photographs of the 19th century Royal family. I loved the ornate ceilings too.
When we came out it was windy, but the shower of rain was over. We visited the Italian Terraced Gardens, before going back to the Tiv to have lunch, walking via the Ice House.
We put on our caggies and set off again, this time for the Swiss House. There is a free horse and carriage ride for the ⅔ mile distance, but we walked there, with the wind behind us and took the carriage back. We were lucky to be the last to to get on, avoiding another wait.
The Swiss Cottage was simply furnished and more to our liking. The adjacent museum was crammed full of all sorts of things of interest – collections of rocks, stuffed birds, butterflies and masses more, plus items from all over the world. I particularly like the alabaster Taj Mahal model, reminiscent of the one that Dad Cape had.
Outside there was a bathing machine used by Victoria. Adrian took a photo of me by it. Back near the house we walked on, hoping to visit the Walled Garden, but this was being renovated and was completely empty. After walking round the grounds of it, we left Osborne House at 3 o'clock and headed for Newport and Carisbrooke Castle. We were able to park here and walk right round the outside of the castle. It was a pleasant but blustery walk.
We then drove cross-country to a campsite at Pondwell, just outside Ryde. For some reason this proved difficult and we disliked the large amount of traffic on the small roads at going home time. However, when we reached the campsite, we found it to be very pleasant, situated behind a pub and on a large sloping field.
The chap had told Adrian that the QE2 was going past at 6.30, but although we walked out at that time, we didn't see it. We did see though that there were baths at this site, and despite the cold windy evening, we both felt refreshed after having a bath.
We had a nice meal of chicken breast with cheese and bacon and rice.
Thursday 18th May 12.5 miles (Tiv) 7.5 miles (walk)
There was some rain in the night, but we woke up to sunshine and the day proved much better than forecast, with sun and wind for much of the time and only one shower on us during our walk.
We breakfasted then left and drove down into Ryde, parking in a side road then walking down to the Esplanade where we had only five minutes to wait before catching the no.4 bus (which changed to being no. 5) to East Cowes. We started walking southwards, having trouble initially – there seemed to be a truck full of gas bottles in trouble and police cars everywhere and roadblocks. We knew that today's walk was mostly on roads and past habitation, but in fact much of it was really pleasant, through tunnels of trees in their fresh green.
Instead of taking the main road out of East Cowes, we took the road to Whippingham, which gave us a good views down to the Medina River. It isn't possible to follow the coast in this area as the way is barred by Osborne House and Barton Manor. We came to the attractive church at Whippingham, but this is obviously the stop off point for the OAPs coach tours en route to Osborne House. Adrian found this rather depressing. We looked briefly inside the church, but it was too packed with crowds to enjoy. Victoria and Albert had laid the foundation stone in 1860. Close by was a little souvenir shed which also did tea/coffee. I persuaded Adrian to stop and we enjoyed our elevenses sitting outside in the sunshine in a sheltered spot.
We were pleased to get going on our own and soon crossed the main road and took the minor road to Wootton. We met a couple walking in the opposite direction, approaching the end of their round the island walk.
The housing estates of Wootton weren't very pretty, but we stopped in the Post Office to buy a postcard and stamp for Tom, and the locals seemed friendly. Although not much after midday, we stopped by Wotton Bridge and enjoyed our lunch.
Not long afterwards we had a heavy shower. This didn't last long and we were soon walking past the Abbey House and ruins of Quarr Abbey – dating from the 12th century and in a superb position close to the sea.
We ourselves took a little path down to the beach at Binstead Hard, reminding us of McKenzies Jetty on Frazer Island in Australia, with its old jetty, lush vegetation and views across the Solent to Portsmouth.
We now walked along Ladies Walk to Ryde and reached the Tiv soon after 2 o'clock. We drove on to Brading Roman Villa.
We then visited the villa – I always like to see mosaics. These were not in a brilliant condition, having been particularly damaged by floods in 1990 and 1994. It had rained when we walked across, but was sunny when we came out. We drove a few miles to a CL at Queens Bower (we had to stop here) arriving at 5 o'clock.
We had superb views down to Culver Cliff, being lit up by the late afternoon sun, while the wind still blew strongly.
After supper (lamb chops) we climbed up the adjacent hill and watched the sun setting behind us.
Friday 19th May 24 miles (Tiv) 11.6 (walking)
A grey start, but we had a fine day with much sun and no rain – much better than expected and pleasant for walking, although the wind was still cold and strong at times.
We got organised and drove down to Sandown, parking in a side road and making our way to the railway station. This was sadly decrepit and disused, but we boarded the 9.19 train (ex London underground) to Ryde Esplanade. The commuters looked as exciting as Londoners!
We had an extra walk around Ryde, to find a "Nationwide" to get some money. The air felt pretty chill. We soon set off walking southeastwards. Everywhere seemed pleasant enough. At Appley we sat overlooking the beach. We have the feeling that everything is getting ready for Bank Holiday week and the summer season. Interestingly all the flower beds are already planted up.
We passed Puckpool, with no evidence of the holiday camp where Mum & Dad Cape and the younger ones had stayed in the 50s – it was well hidden if still there.
We reached Seaview and wondered if we could continue by the coast. We talked to a local and decided to give it a try. Luckily for us we were able to get right round to St Helens Church (just the tower left). We did some beach walking, some mucky headland walking and the odd bit of boardwalk.
Osborne House and gardens
Victoria's bathing machine
Adrian at Carisbrooke Castle
Adrian at start of the walk around the Isle of Wight, East Cowes
By Wootton Bridge
Adrian by Binstead Hard
Sun going down at Queen's Bower
Adrian at Seaview
As the nice gentleman has suggested, the scenery was superb, looking exotic – Caribbean he said, but definitely shades of Oz and also Guernsey with much greenery, tall trees, white beaches and blue sea with Portsmouth beyond (we were both cross at having left our binoculars behind).
We walked across a causeway at Bembridge Harbour – part of the old mill. Just before here, the grass was full of pinky purple sea pinks looking very pretty. We now had a bit of road walking, but it was the old Toll Road around Bembridge Harbour and we enjoyed looking at the many houseboats in various states of repair as we walked on to Bembridge Point.
We came to the shore again here, and enjoyed our lunch sitting in a sheltered spot on a tiny bit of pebbly beach. The sun felt really warm and we were reluctant to move on.
When we did at 1.30, we tried to keep to the shore as much as possible. We headed round the Foreland and onto Bembridge/Culver Down. This entailed walking right up to the monument which we had seen from last night's campsite, and then down along the coast to Sandown.
On the beach near St. Helens
It had felt quite hot at times and Adrian had taken off his sweatshirt. I did briefly too. We could see dark rain clouds over Portsmouth, but had just two drops ourselves.
It was about 4 o'clock when we reached Sandown. We made our way to the Tiv. It had been a good walk. I had noticed a Leisure Centre nearby this morning. We made our way there and after enquiring, I had a very pleasant swim. We then made our way to the nearby Safeway, where we stocked up again for the next few days.
We knew that finding somewhere to stay for tonight would be difficult, as there are virtually no campsites in the southern part of the island. We hadn't realised how difficult it was going to be. We set off first for one at Niton, driving through St Lawrence, near Ventnor. Both of us were remembering coming to Gill Barge's 21st in 1965, at her parents wonderful house with woods going down to the shore (we didn't see it!). However, the site must no longer be here, although we searched hard.
We set off towards another one at at Atherfield Bay – that wasn't there either (a woman had been murdered in this area a couple of days ago!). We continued to Grange Farm, right by the sea at Brightstone. The views and the sunset with clear sky, were wonderful – shame about the price! It was 7.30 when we arrived. We had a good supper of pork chops followed by strawberries and cream!
Adrian at Culver Cliff and by the monument
The sun goes down again.
Saturday 20th May 33 miles in Tiv 10.1 miles walking
We awoke to a clear blue sky and forced ourselves out of bed as we had to leave at 8.30 to be in time to catch the only bus (9.18 am) from Niton. Had we not been rushing off, we might even have breakfasted outside!
At Niton, we sorted out where the bus stop was – there was a one-way system, so two different bus stops on the timetable. Our bus arrived promptly, but only went as far as Ventnor, then we had a 25 minute wait for the bus to Sandown. Both times we sat at the front upstairs. At Sandown we went into the Tourist Information and got the new bus timetable which starts tomorrow. Opposite was a cafe, so being 10.30 we had our morning tea/coffee and shared a custardy pastry. Total cost £2 – we like the prices here.
We set off walking beside the sea to Shanklin – it felt a bit like walking from Dawlish to Teignmouth. We didn't even notice any signs to Shanklin Chine, but ascended steeply to Luccombe and then on to a lovely area called "The Landslip" where in the last century there had been a couple of landslides. The resulting "slumped" area is very attractive, being very green, lots of trees, ferns, moss and birds. It had a really peaceful atmosphere and we found a lovely sunny seat to sit and enjoy our lunch.
Rosie at Sandown
We then came to Monks Bay, an attractive spot where apparently in the past, fish caught here were sent back to Monks in France. This led on to Bonchurch – a former hangout for poets and artists – it was reminiscent of St Ives in Cornwall.
We walked on via the sea wall to Ventnor, passing a plaque and moving poem to a 19-year-old lad who had died here.
At Ventnor we saw the map of the Isle of Wight in the "paddling pool" and remember our last visit here with our children in 1986 (it didn't look as we remembered it!)
Ventnor was quite busy, being a sunny Saturday. The wind was very chill all day, although it was hot if you were out of the wind – we were nearly tempted into shorts at lunchtime! Many people thought it was summer and were scantily clad. Some paddled and one was even swimming!
We left Ventnor and headed for St Lawrence. I was pleased to find that we passed and could walk into, the Botanic Gardens. These were fairly busy too, but made a pleasant diversion before we regained the coastal path and walked past the "Rare Breeds" centre where we enjoyed seeing large-horned cattle, and some with white middles and many other species.
We now climbed up steeply to some masts high above us, and then along above St Lawrence. We looked down and tried to work out where Gill Barge's parents lived, but couldn't find it. We continued along the top for some way and then made our way to Niton, reaching the Tiv at 4.30.
We then drove off through St Lawrence on one last bid to see Gill's house, then inland to Godshill which we reached at 5.30, when all other visitors had left. We walked up through this once pretty but now touristy village, enjoying the cluster of thatched cottages by the church. By now the air was pretty chill again.
Adrian peruses the 'Isle of Wight map' at Ventnor
Tom on the same map 1986
We now drove back via Chale to a campsite at Freshwater Bay Golf Course. We were welcomed by the owners (Adrian had phoned earlier) with chocks for the wheels. The field sloped gently and we faced north, looking over Yarmouth to the mainland. We had a few drops of rain, and later it began to rain steadily.
We enjoyed a meal of haddock, which Adrian cooked outside, then listened to the rain!
Adrian at pretty Godshill
Sunday 21st May 17 miles in the Tiv 10.1 miles walking
We went to bed hearing rain and woke to a grey morning which didn't entice us up! Our bus (on the new summer timetable) wasn't until 10.30, but even so we found it a last-minute rush to get off. We drove to Brook Chine car park and waited by the bus stop, hoping they knew the right times! Sure enough, along came the bus and again we sat upstairs.
We alighted at Niton and began walking on the coastal path – it appeared to be the track of an old road. It was cool and windy. We were very surprised when a man wearing only shorts came running and puffing up behind us! We had just remarked that we wouldn't be needing shorts today! We looked down to St Catherine's Lighthouse.
We descended to Blackgang Chine – the bus had called in here on the way. I was hoping for a cup of coffee so enquired at the entrance and they kindly let us inside the "Theme Park" to go to the cafe. We enjoyed tea/coffee and a fresh jam doughnut sitting outside in the sunshine.
About midday we set off again. We were joined by a lady from Chesterfield who asked us where the coastal path went. She had been at a conference in Portsmouth and come across to the Isle of Wight for a couple of days. She had just got off the bus from Sandown, where she was staying in the youth hostel and fancied doing a bit of the coastal path.
We set off together, passing a house where they were doing ferret racing in the garden! After a short bit of road walking, we set off across fields to rejoin the coastline. The sky was getting blacker and a shower hit us full pelt – not just rain, but literally freezing hail! We had got on our waterproofs just in time. The lady tried sheltering for a bit, but then decided to return. We made our way across a ploughed muddy field to a (wartime) hut in the centre of it. We waited for a while, then decided to eat our lunch, although we hadn't long had elevenses! It felt freezing cold.
When the rain had almost stopped, we set off again across the muddy field but soon had to leave the coastline again but this time the ground underfoot was harder. We met a man walking in the opposite direction who said that the next couple of miles were very muddy – and he was right!
St Catherines Lighthouse
We returned to walk along the top of the cliffs and felt between the devil and the deep blue sea – if we walked along the edge of the field, it was slimy slippery mud, but any closer to the edge and we were in danger of it subsiding. In fact today we saw huge evidence of erosion and large areas had slumped down.
We continued along the cliff top, with the wind blowing strongly, but fortunately no more rain. In places there were wonderful drifts of pink sea thrift. Also the views, up to the Needles, were magnificent. We went through more muddy stretches, but ended up on a long grassy slope. We had passed Grange Farm – our campsite two nights ago and out to sea we saw some kite surfing.
After the hailstorm
We reached the Tiv at Brook Chine at 4.25 and almost immediately drove on to Mottistone Manor – a National Trust property where we enjoyed a quick wander around the gardens. It was sheltered here and felt really warm. We bought a couple of plants.
We drove on through the delightful village of Brightstone with its wonderful thatched cottages and not at all touristy like Godshill. We drove on up via Freshwater to Totland, checking out bus stops and parking places for tomorrow and getting diesel, before driving on to Heathfield Campsite, overlooking Colwell Bay and on to Hurst Castle.
I cooked a Turkey meal in the oven. There was a lovely sunset.
Monday 22nd May 10 miles in Tiv 9.2 miles walking
I awoke early. The sky was blue, but it had clouded over by the time we left. We drove to Colwell Common and parked the Tiv, and walked to the bus stop to catch the bus which was again on time – 9.19. We were in fact ready early this morning, and had parked in Colwell Bay for a short while, listening to the end of our Australia trip (the China part) on cassette.
We sat upstairs on the bus again, chatting to an elderly local lady. She said the island was a wonderful place for children to grow up in, but they all left at 18 (like everywhere else really).
We alighted at Brook Chine and began our walk towards Freshwater Bay. It stayed dry all day today, with the wind blowing in our faces initially. Luckily it wasn't too strong.
We made good time to Freshwater Bay and descended the long hill with no problem, then down into Freshwater Bay, arriving at the cafe at the same time as a coach load of schoolchildren.
However, they were well-behaved and fortified by our tea/coffee and Danish pastry we began the long ascent of Tennyson Down. By now it was sometimes a bit misty. We stopped briefly by the Tennyson Cross, then descended towards the Needles.
Adrian at Freshwater bay
Adrian by the Tennyson Cross
We were surprised when we reached the viewpoint here to see so many people, but later realised that the bus came up here from Alum Bay. It was pretty windy by the Needles, but we tucked ourselves down on the hillside facing north and enjoyed our lunch in the sunshine.
We now started walking the last side of the diamond of the Isle of Wight towards Alum Bay. The coloured sands looked quite impressive as we walked along the cliff path.
Although we have both visited Alum Bay many years ago, we had scant memory of it. I decided that for Tom, we ought to ride on the chair lift (he was prevented from doing so on a school trip because one girl's parents objected about the safety of it!) I am obviously a masochist, because I hated the journey down! We only stayed a short while at the bottom. Fortunately coming up wasn't so bad! We celebrated at the top with an ice cream (one of the warmer moments). The "Pleasure Village" wasn't as bad as we'd expected.
The sun was pretty erratic today though as we proceeded to visit the Old Battery (National Trust) it was mostly grey again.
The Old Battery had been nicely restored, with interesting displays explaining its history. Adrian had been very surprised to learn that the rockets fired from Woomera in Australia had been tested at the New Battery here.
Lunch near the Needles
We now walked on through Headon Warren towards Totland Bay, where we descended to the coast and then walked along beside the sea, past Totland's Pier and cafe (that's all) to Colwell Bay. Here there were rows of beach huts and nothing that I could identify from my holiday here in the 50s!
We reached the Tiv about 4.30 and drove on to the pretty town of Yarmouth. Just beyond here we parked above the sea in the sunshine, before driving on to Eddie's Farm at Shalfleet. The chap here had restored a couple of horse-drawn caravans. He was a pleasant, interesting character who looked rather liked Spike Milligan and like to chat. He looked the part in check-shirt, neckerchief and cowboy type hat. By now the wind was cold so we settled inside. I cooked a "fry up".
Looking to the Needles from Headon Warren
Looking to Totland from Headon Warren
Tuesday 23rd May 6 miles in the Tiv 10.5 miles walking
A very wet day! We were up early and left before 8.30 am to walk to the bus stop. We were leaving the Tiv at the campsite until this afternoon. The bus was on time again, and we travelled upstairs to Colwell, where we walked down to the beach to start today's walk.
After a short stretch along the beach we had to walk up through some very uninspiring holiday chalets. I had been looking in vain to see anything which could remind me of the time we spent here in the 50s – nothing did!
We now came to Fort Victoria Country Park – a wooded area which would have been lovely in the sunshine! Near Fort Victoria itself we reached the shoreline and walked along towards Yarmouth. Again – yes, you've guessed – it would have looked lovely in the sunshine.
We had to walk along the road for the final stretch into Yarmouth. Even in the wet – I thought that Yarmouth was a pretty little place. We stopped at the Mariners Cafe and stripped off some of our wet things and enjoyed tea/coffee. Shortly before Yarmouth we had got a strong whiff of bacon as we passed a small hotel – Adrian couldn't resist asking for a bacon sandwich now to go with his tea.
Through Yarmouth (some beautiful roses on the cottages) and passed the attractive picnic area, where we had stopped in the sunshine – yesterday, today it was very grey and wet. An unpleasant stretch of road walking followed – difficult enough with a footpath or verge and much worse in the rain when visibility and hearing is reduced, partly by the extra clothing and headgear.
We left the road to walk through the lovely area of Bouldnor Copse (which – would have been lovely in the sun!) We came down to the shore again at Hampstead. I had been hoping that we might have come across some kind of shelter to stop and have our lunch, but no such luck!
We made do with sitting on a log in the rain – at the point where the path left the shore to follow around the large "finger inlets" of Newtown Bay.
Rosie at Colwell bay
We had to think "nice sandwiches", but actually it wasn't too bad… would have been lovely in the s…
A naval ship passed and I waved and called out hello. At that moment a couple of walkers (the first seen today) emerged from the hidden path! They returned my greeting!
We were pleased to have had the wind behind us today, but expected it to get really bad as we turned inland. In fact it was easier than expected, we rather enjoyed this part of the walk, after the initial very muddy stretch.
Part of it was a boardwalk! making us think of mangrove walks in Australia, as we were traversing the swampy river estuary. There were some lovely red grasses mingling with yellow buttercups – would have made a nice picture…, in the…
After following the western side of the Newtown River Estuary we had to rejoin the road again for the last stretch into Shalfleet (very unpleasant again – no verges).
We reached the Tiv soon after 2.30 (but we had had an early start). We left – after peeping into Pete's beautifully neat Romany caravan which he apparently slept in last night.
We drove to Great Thorness, on the way to West Cowes, where we located a C.L. The lady thought the field was too wet, but we manoeuvred into it as the rain and wind settled in good and proper! We enjoyed the snugness of the Tiv, while we hung up all our wet gear!
I cooked bacon and cheese omelette for supper. We listened to the homecoming from our Australia 1998 trip on cassette.
Adrian enjoying his lunch (in the rain)
Wednesday 24th May 18 miles in the Tiv 9.4 miles walking
I woke up about 6 o'clock to see sunshine and blue sky. The forecast said that it wouldn't last – and they were right! I tried making up some "easy pints" for milk for breakfast, but it wasn't very successful!
We were ready to leave early to drive to Cowes – we had to take two buses today – the second one being 10.20 from Newport. However we left the "site" at 8.30 and found ourselves a place to leave the Tiv on the western side of Cowes near Egypt Point.
We walked down into Cowes – it seemed a very attractive town. The sun was still shining and it was pleasantly warm.
We located the bus stop outside the Co-op, and boarded a bus no. 1 with plenty of time to reach Newport for our second bus. However – is it us or what! – The buses radiator was leaking and we had to stop on the outskirts of Cowes for another bus to take us to Newport (does this sound familiar?). We arrived at Newport just after 10 o'clock. There was one transport cafe in the bus station, but it was full of workers queueing up for breakfast. I managed to get my cup of coffee, in a disposable cup, so that I could take it outside to the bus queue, with just enough time to drink it before boarding – we wouldn't be passing a suitable spot for "elevenses" today.
We alighted at Shalfleet, and set off on our last day of walking. It was still pleasantly warm. Today's walk was probably the least well signposted (in other words badly!) and was in some ways over the most unpredictable terrain.
At first we enjoyed the sun filtering through the abundant trees, but then we had a stretch of road walking before coming to Newtown – a small hamlet now, but a well planned town of the 13th century. We viewed the Old Town Hall and snapped it "fore and aft"! It is owned by the National Trust, but not open in the morning. Newtown was one of the "rotten boroughs" of the 1832 reform bill – until then it had sent two people as MPs, despite having virtually no inhabitants at that time.
We set off from here across fields with much birdsong, but this was short lived, as we soon had a long stretch of road walking – much of it with no verges. Difficult to enjoy this!
When we did leave the road, soon after Porchfield and just after midday, I was looking forward to finding a suitable lunch stop. However – the first field contain cows and much mud, the second was of long (wet) grass and the third field had both! Then worse followed – electric fences, masses of mud and not knowing which way to go. We made a short unplanned diversion and came to the road, just down from where we had camped last night.
We crossed this, into another muddy field, then more mud, before we entered a static caravan park. And then – it started raining! We had difficulty finding our way through the park, but managed to find our way onto the beach.
A short way along here we sheltered under a group of stunted oak trees and ate our lunch.
We soon left the shore and walked through a field, but then came to an area which had had much recent erosion. We frequently had to mount newly erected stiles or climb over padded barbed wire as the cliffside had fallen away.
We finally reach Gurnard on the western edge of Cowes then it was the final stretch along the front and back to Egypt Point, where we were reunited with the Tiv not long after 2.30.
Newtown - a 'Rotten borough'.
.It had continued raining and now did so heavily, continuing into the evening.
We set off for Newbridge to the so-called Caravan Club site, listening to an interview with Judith Durham of The Seekers on the radio.
We stopped briefly at Calbourne, hoping to view "Winkle Street" with its row of thatched cottages, but it was very wet, so we decided to return tomorrow – in the sunshine we hope!
We booked in at the Caravan Park, deciding to give it a try, although we really knew that it is not "our cup of tea" and also far more expensive than necessary. The girl booking us in was pleasant enough and walked round in the rain to show us our "pitch".
We visited the shop and Adrian bought an MMM magazine with an article about a young couple, plus baby, driving overland to Australia.
This site has two swimming pools – one outdoor, heated (free) and one indoor (£1.50 each). We opted for the indoor pool, but it wasn't a great success. The pool itself was pleasant enough, and had we had it to ourselves it would have been fine, but with numerous adults, children and babies, it was impossible to do more than a few strokes! We returned to the Tiv, with the non-stop rain beating down outside.
We enjoyed fish for supper, cooked in the oven.
We reach Cowes
Thursday 25th May 69 miles in the Tiv 7 miles cycling
We were disappointed to hear rain as we woke up, but in fact the sky gradually cleared and the day was mostly bright and sunny, with a fresh wind.
I finished reading my mammoth book "the worst journey" by Apsley Cherry Garrard, about Scott's expedition to the Antarctic. It was a wonderfully moving book, very powerfully written and I was both pleased and sad to have finished reading it. I feel full of admiration for these strong men. Cherry Garrard himself comes over as a lovely man. Wilson seemed almost Godlike, and Bowers had such strength and resilience.
I decided to try out the outdoor swimming pool before breakfast and had a delightful swim in this large pool which of course I had all to myself. It was about 9.45 before we left. We drove the short distance to Calborne, then walked along to view the very picturesque "Winkle Street" It really is very pretty – rather like a film set – and totally unspoiled.
Having no real parking nearby it would appear not to be visited by coach parties! A few drops of rain fell on us – the only time today.
We set off now for Newport and located the end of the cycle track to Cowes we were able to park easily, so while Adrian unloaded the bikes, I made tea/coffee and we enjoyed this with fresh Danish pastries bought from the campsite shop, sitting on the towbar on the back of the Tiv.
The 3 miles cycle to Cowes was really pleasant. Being along the former railway line, it was both level and devoid of traffic. We had views down to the Medina River through pretty wooded countryside.
Well known 'Winkle Street' in Calborne
Unfortunately at Cowes we were left "high and dry" and had to follow the normal traffic signs to the centre. This consisted of many ups and downs!
We reached the centre at midday – a bit too early for fish and chips, so we cycled back, Adrian followed his nose back to the cycle way and this was a much better way!
We arrived back at the Tiv at about 12.45, so got things ready for lunch while Adrian fixed the bikes back. We picnicked at an adjoining table in a little park area which we walked around afterwards. The sun was pleasant, but the wind was gusting.
Now we made our way to Newport Roman Villa. We had bought joint tickets when visiting Brading Roman Villa – but – surprise surprise! today it was a FREE entry to the Newport Villa! Can you believe it? Still it was pleasant to look around. How strange it must have been to have discovered this Villa in a street in Newport in 1926!
It was now time to make haste to Wootton to try out the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. We made our way out of Newport and arrived just in time for the 3 o'clock train to Smallbrook Junction. We thought of our last steam train journey – in South Africa. Our ride today was through pretty country often wooded. The line only takes about half an hour.On our return, we got off at Haven Street where there is a small Museum and shop. We looked around here until the train returned, then got on and once more travelled to Smallbrook, then back to Wootton. Our train ticket was for "unlimited travel" – there was no other ticket available – so we made the most of it! We arrived back at Wootton at 5.00 pm.
Adrian cycling to Cowes
We left here at 6.00 pm and drove down to near the ferry terminal. We parked the Tiv and walked along to the "floating bridge" – the free (for passengers) ferry to West Cowes. It was just about to leave so we stepped on. We saw the 6.30 Red Funnel leaving for Southampton. We walked through Cowes, got some money from a "hole in the wall" and then bought some fish and chips. These weren't the best! We managed to get down to the front and found a seat to sit on in the last of the sun and out of the wind. We saw the next Red Funnel Ferry arrive.
We end with a ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway
The wind was quite chill as we walked back to catch the ferry back to East Cowes. We got back to the Tiv and drove on to the ferry terminal.
We boarded the ferry for the 8.30 pm crossing. The sun was just going down and it was a beautiful sky. We sat at the "front" again and enjoyed the view. The water was quite choppy but it was a pleasant crossing. We drove off the boat at 9.30 and made our way home, arriving just after 10.30 pm.
We had enjoyed our time on the Isle of Wight. It was lovely to find that it is still very pretty and relatively unspoiled. We found people pleasant and happy, prices not expensive, and a good old-fashioned English feel to everything.
It was lovely, but very cool! We returned and then saw the full moon rise.
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