Click here for travel info, here for the photos, here for the places where the photos were taken, and here for a map of the walk.
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 second one.
On Tuesday, 26 June 2012 at 8am Graham picked up Mark and drove down to the Havant Street car park close to Portsmouth Harbour station. We purchased our tickets and boarded the 8:48 am catamaran to Ryde. Once more Mark became an honorary senior citizen for the day. At Ryde we got on the train to Brading. At the station we got out and started the walk. The time was now 9:20am.
We walked out of the station along the road in front and found our first footpath sign. We followed it and walked in between two houses to the railway line and crossed it. We spoke to a man with a dog to confirm we were on the right path. Mark is stll not a confident map reader. We followed the path by the railway in a northerly direction until we came to a junction of several tracks. On one gate was the symbol for the Yar River trail (more...). We walked along it.
The path opened into a large marsh area which stretches between Brading, St Helens and Bembridge. Mark suggested we should find a bird spotter to identify all the birds in Brading Marshes which is an RSPB (more...) area. We walked over a bridge which spanned the Yar. Surprisingly the Yar does not enter the sea at Yarmouth but at St Helens.
We skirted Bembridge Airport where Britten-Norman Islanders used to be built, and climbed up the hill to the Bembridge Windmill. The windmill(more...) is the last remaining one on the island.
We walked into the entrance shop of the Bembridge Mill and asked for a coffee, but although there were beans in the machine, it was unable to produce any coffee. So we left thirsty and walked into Bembridge where we stopped at the Pilot Boat Inn.(more...) A young lady served us. She told us she'd been to the Isle Of Wight festival on the Sunday and Bruce Springsteen had taken an hour to warm up os she was disappointed. We drank our coffees in their yard. Mark drained his potatoes and we walked down to the beach.
The tide was out. It was misty and overcast. A few people were walking their dogs. Mark suggested Toby would be able to come on the walk as many other beaches are out of bounds to dogs. We walked on the sand and admired the large houses behind the trees which skirted the beach. We asked a man where the best place to eat and he confirmed that the pub sign on the map was where we should eat.
We turned the corner and there in the distance was the magnificent Bembridge Lifeboat Station, built with lottery funds(more...) and costing millions.
We passed a group of school children having a lesson in marine biology. We entered the area of Bembridge where chalets can be placed close to the sea. A whale was being carved out of an old tree. We climbed the steps and entered the Crab & Lobster (more...). We ordered two pints of the Goddards Fuggle Dee Dum but could not order lunch as it was not noon. The landlord and his lady informed us that they were the only eating place on the island which had a licence to buy lobster directly from a fishing boat. They also told us that the coastal path had collapsed and we should make a diversion.
We drank outside on the picnic benches with a misty sea view. At noon Mark ordered the crab baguettes and a portion of chips. The food was delicious. By the time we had finished the pub was quite crowded. A bunch of Chinese students were greeted by Graham with a 'Ni hao'. Mark is now fluent in Mandarin.
We walked along the road till we found the sign to the coastal path. We followed it into woodland. We were reminded of the walk back from Ventnor to Shanklin. We walked past a children's holiday centre and came to a grassy area. Here the map didn't help nor were there any finger posts. First we went down towards the beach and retraced our steps having taken advice from a man with a strimmer. We walked out of the area past the mobile homes and took some more advice from another man. We retraced our steps to the grassy area and found a path by a green shed which took us to the next caravan site.
We climbed up to the top of Culver Down(more...) where there is the Yarborough Monument and the Culver Haven pub. The mists had gone by now so we could see the mainland in the distance. Wonderful views. We had a drink of tea outside the cafe.
We walked along the road to the Bembridge Fort, a Palmerston Fort constructed in the 1860s. We continued along the road, downwards and over a cattle grid, till we reached the main road. We turned right and after one hundred yards Mark checked the map again. We retraced our steps. We should have turned left at the junction. After a few more yards we found a finger post and entered an large meadowed are called Gander Down. We walked anticlockwise around the base of the down until we cam to a gate. We recognised the gate as we had been here earlier.
We arrived back at the junction at the edge of the Bembridge Marshes to find a van, a man and a lot of cones. The man explained that a twelve inch cast iron water pipe had fractured in the middle of Brading. 57,000 litres of water had escaped causing a lot of damage. The leak had been caused by the long spell of dry weather followed by the short sharp heavy rain. The leak (more...) had been fixed and the man was opening and shuttng pipes to get rid of the air in them. You can learn a lot on the island.
We walked up the lane to the church. The waxworks was closed and has been reopened as the Brading Experience. On the street corner stood the oldest house on the island. We walked along the high street and turned off it to go to the station.
We got to the station just in time as it began to rain. On the far platform, sitting on a bench, is a model of a man reading a newspaper - quite offputting. We had a pleasant chat with the lady in the Information Centre. We boarded the train and returned to the end of Ryde Pier.
The boat was waiting for us and was a bit more crowded than the journey over. The car was awaiting us. Mark was dropped off at 5pm.