A walk on the Isle of Wight - 2016

In the mists of time, Mark said he would organise a walk during the summer on the Isle of Wight. No one can remember the auspicious occasion or when this statement was uttered. It was probably some time in the latter part of the last century. Well we did the first one in 2011 and now we have planned a fifth one.

There's a phone call at 7:50am on Thursday, 16 June, to decide if we will go. Heavy showers are forecast between noon and 2:00pm. We are not wimps. Graham arrives at Mark's at 8:12am and he is ready to go. The lady of the house peers around a curtain to wave the travellers off.

We park in Havant St. car park and walk to the ferry. We buy a pair of old age tickets and the man suggests to us that using the Park and Ride would have saved us £8. We thank him. After drinking a coffee we board the catamaran.

We alight at Ryde and walk west. The walk we were about to is the Coastal Path from Ryde to Cowes. A lady with a dog tells us that it is possible to walk around the beach but the tide is up so we follow the blue signs of the Coastal Path. We stop at a rather prestigious gateway with a stag lying atop.  The motto 'QUI SI SANA' is carved into the top of the structure. A local couple do not know what it means. Mr Google knows. "It is healthy here". The gateway leads to Westfield Park Lodge. We stroll on westwards past the Ryde Golf Club down a leafy lane. We chat to three ladies who are doing a round trip to Wooton Bridge.  We come across Binstead Church which we enter and peruse. As we approach Quarr Abbey Mark disposes of his coffee. Mark informs Graham about the gun emplacements in the crumbling walls of the abbey's boundaries. Mark has a friend who is an archeologist. Graham tells Mark that his friend's career is in ruins. Mark questions Graham as to how he knows this. The penny drops.

We walk up to the abbey and ask two lady walkers if the tea shop is open. We enter the abbey and are amazed at its hugeness. We stroll to the tea shop set in gardens and take tea and eat a small cake each.  We leave the abbey grounds and rejoin the Coastal Path.

We skirt around the ferry port of Fishbourne. At Wooton Bridge Graham points out the hotel where his nephew got married two years ago. The ladies from the abbey are resting. They have come from Essex and are planning to do the whole of the Coastal Path in seven days. Their husbands play golf, drink and talk a lot so this was the ladies' way of enjoying themselves.

We climb out of Wooton and meet a lone male walker who suggests a circular walk around Ryde. We walk along a lane and suffer a short shower of rain.

On the main road at Whippingham we ask two workers at the forge to recommend a pub. We take up their suggestion and walk for "10 minutes" down to the Folly Inn which overlooks the Medina river. We each have a pint of Purple Reign, specially brewed for the Queen's birthday. It is a pleasant drink, reminding us of Hopback Summer Lightning. We order sandwiches and sit outside. Mark finds out that for £7 per person you can take a boat to East Cowes. We are always thinking of the others in the group to be. We finish lunch and clarify our onwards route with the bar staff.

We walk on the Whippingham Heritage Trail through a field and a light shower to the church. It is no ordinary church having been built under the orders of Queen Victoria. It is magnificent. There are lots of photos showing off its important visitors. We leave and walk along the pavement through housing estates and come to Victoria Park which we cross. We stop at ask a lady the way to Waitrose.  It is fifty yards away. At Waitrose Mark buys a packet of asparagus which entitles us to a free cup of tea. We drink it outside in the sunshine whilst waiting for the bus.

We get on the 3:20pm bus and Graham uses his bus pass. We journey back to Ryde and get off at the terminus. We walk to the ferry terminal and rest to wait for the 4:45pm catamaran.

We arrive back in Portsmouth and find it is raining. Apparently it has rained all afternoon. We get back to the Grange at  5:45pm but a surprise awaits us. Janet ushers us in to her kitchen. There on the table is set out a cream tea with all the trappings including cloth serviettes. What a star. We eat avariciously. It is wonderful and may turn into a legend. Graham's phone informs him he has walked 13 miles. He leaves to prepare himself for an evening of bridge.

The walk

For all photos click here. For places where the photos were taken click here.

Eight walkers from Swanmore and North leave at 9am and drive to the Portsmouth Park and Ride and pay £4 per car and take the bus the Hard Interchange. We make our way around the reconstructing bus station through the train station to the WightLink barding area. It has taken us 50 minutes. Others have driven to car parks and found the cheapest car park nearby. The catamaran takes us to Ryde terminal and the walk commences.  A cloudless sky is above.

We walk to the end of the peer and turn right. We stop at Westfield Park House as on the recce.  This gives an opportunity for the classicists in the group to miss-translate the motto of 'QUI SI SANA'. 

We stroll on to Binstead Church where we have a talk be the reader, Hilary Spurgeon, give us all a talk on the history of the church (more...) We walk outside and admire the gravestone of a poor fellow who must have been carrying more than his Duty Free allowance: “In the memory of Tho SIVELL who was cruely shot on board his sloop by some officers of the customs of the Port of Portsmouth on the 15th of June 1785 at the age of 64 years.......”.  Nearby is the very large grave of Samuel Landon, the biggest man in the world at the time of his death in 1844.

Our next stop is Quarr Abbey where we all take refreshements. We skirt the port of Fishbourne and march through the back streets of Wooton. When we reach the countryside Mark breaks into a conversation with Neil about the quality of tarmacing and the dating of tarmac on concrete for estate roads.

We notice a 'Rustic Goods for Sale' sign as we are passing Woodhouse Copse, not knowing that it would appear on our television screens tomorrow night (more...) and (more...).

We reach the Whippingham Forge and most of the group continue on to the Folly Inn.  The two Janes take the bus back to Ryde using their bus passes.  The rest gather in the Folly Inn at about 2:45pm.  We sit outside under cover and sample the excellent food and beer.  We amble across the field to St Mildred's, Whippingham.  The organizers are hoping to show the magnificent interior to the others but are shocked to find the church is locked.  It is Sunday after all. The near mutiny has to be quelled.  Letters will be written to the press.  No one wants to walk to East Cowes as in June.  We walk the ten minutes to the bus stop where an incident is discovered.  One of the ladies has lost her purse.  Two knights, Adrian and Roger, return to the pub.  The rest of the party take the 4:32pm number 4 bus back to Ryde.  The younger members whinge about the expense of the bus ride and the full fare they have paid for the catamaran.

The whole group minus the two knights congregate on the balcony of Costa's at the Ryde terminal. A few spots of rain are felt.  All except the purser loser catch the 5:47pm catamaran back to Portsmouth.

Unfortunately the Park and Ride bus service stops at 6pm on a Sunday. Graham rushes off to those parked in a nearby car park to request lifts to the Park and Ride car park.  On returning to the Swanmore group he discovers that the Park and Ride bus is at the stop to pick up us and two other ladies.  We thank the bus driver profusely for picking us up. He had noticed that our cars were still parked.  What a wonderful gentleman!  Apparently such behaviour wuld not have happened in Birmingham. Graham returns to the car park with Mark and the others arrive shortly afterwards.  

The purse loser returns, about an hour later, with the two knights and their purse in a car driven by her husband who visited all the dockyards in Portsmouth before reaching the Hard Interface.