Laurie’s Isle of Wight Challenge blog
Day 1 – Friday 5th May – As I sat in my hospital bed in August 2014 with my face and neck badly cut up and my left leg in bandages and unable to walk, I vowed to myself that I would recover and finally do the sponsored walk I was intending to do that month, ironically for a cancer charity, that is walk the Isle of Wight Coastal path.
It took me almost a year before I returned to work and after a number of long walks, both by myself and with Katie, I decided that I would do the coastal path here in May 2017. So here I am…..completing the circle in my life and going back to where I had started.
Things have changed – I now live close to the island, just across the Solent in Portsmouth so getting to the island was easy. Katie gave me a lift this morning to Southsea and I caught a hovercraft over to Ryde. The journey took just ten minutes.
The walk today was 17 miles long from Ryde to Shalfleet via Cowes. The weather today was mostly cloudy with a few sunny spells but not warm enough to get my fleece off or wear my sun hat because of a strong easterly wind which thankfully was behind me as I am walking anticlockwise around the island.
The walk was not very hilly and there were a lot of road walking stretches – sometimes the path was well away from the coast, I think due to some landowners on the north side of the island not wanting people ruining their view of Fawley Oil Refinery across the Solent!
A mixture of towns and countryside for sure but I know for certain that the views tomorrow will be a lot more spectacular as I pass by the Needles.
So tonight, I am staying in a b and b at the west of the island at Totland Bay and return to Shalfleet tomorrow morning.
Fish and chips for supper tonight and Isle of Wight seagulls love chips just as much as the mainland birds!
Day 2 – Saturday 6th May – A much better day today with better weather and most of the path was actually along the coast!
After a bracing full English breakfast (with muesli, orange juice, tea and toast), I jumped on a bus back to Shalfleet and with the sun out, I enjoyed an exquisite start through a mixture of woodland and farmland. I soon reached the coast and turned west towards Yarmouth. The views of the sea and the English coast were glorious. Small sailing boats dotted the waters, a perfect day for messing about on the water.
I reached Yarmouth at lunchtime, a small old town with a castle, old buildings and a ferry terminal to the mainland, also a marina with the equivalent of Rolls Royces in the harbour.
Later I reached Alum Bay which I had last visited in 2006. The area is now hideously touristy and I didn’t hang around very long before walking up to the top of the Needles, probably one of the most famous views in Britain.
I now turned eastwards walking for three miles along the ridge of Tennyson Down with glorious views of the whole of west of the island reaching Freshwater Bay and then a bus back to my b and b in Totland Bay for the night.
So another 16 miles done and 34 to go.
Day 3 – Sunday 7th May – A fantastic days walking from Freshwater Bay to Ventnor today, about 18 miles. The weather helped being cool in the morning then warm sunshine in the afternoon with a gentle breeze.
The walk today was along the south coast with spectacular views of the cliffs below, at times 250 feet below. It was tempting but I didn’t want to get too close to the edge to take pictures.
Half way along the way, I was overtaken in the air by a paraglider. He was only a hundred feet above me but over the sea much higher as he (or she) took advantage of the rising thermals over the cliffs. I felt extremely jealous of his/her freedom.
I reached the b and b that I am staying at just after 6.30pm. The owner (there are three of them) sounded and looked drunk. She offered me a chicken dinner with white wine at no extra cost which was very kind and I accepted – there no pubs nearby apparently. However, when she also offered me the use of the house’s hot tub, I politely declined. Besides, she doesn’t know how I like to dress in a hot tub…..
Day 4 – Monday 8th May – Firstly a big thank you to you if you have contributed to my sponsored walk.
I had a ginormous breakfast today from my now sober b and b owner – she did not cook it – her husband did. So I had two challenges today. The first was to eat that breakfast, the second was to walk the 18 miles from Ventnor to Ryde and reach Ryde by 7.15pm so I could get the hovercraft back to Portsmouth.
It took me an hour to eat the breakfast but that also included two Weetabix and toast. So not a lot of time to pack and put my boots on before I set off at 10am.
The walk was mostly along the east side of the island, mostly dominated by seaside towns with a pier such as Sandown and Shanklin, also pretty coves dotted along the coast.
Once again, the weather was dry and fairly sunny, very good walking weather. I wore my hat and it stayed on despite the breeze.
Shanklin and Sandown are both a shadow of their past. I walked past a number of boarded up hotels and amusement arcades and anyway, it was a Monday in early May so it was going to be quiet. Mostly elderly people walking their dogs….
The ice cream stalls and deckchair sellers were also somewhere else but at least the sun was shining.
As I walked north and over Bembridge Down, the sea was of course to my right and for most of the walk, I was shadowed by a flotilla of eight huge looking oil tankers, all following each other and no doubt waiting for the right tide to dock at Southampton.
Portsmouth then came into view and also an array of other boats, ferries from France as well as a cruise ship.
By now the time was 6pm and I had a relaxed walk towards Ryde, the hard walking had been done and I slowed down.
I reached the hovercraft port with 30 minutes to spare, the crossing was quick and the lovely Katie was there to greet me……