Click 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 third one.
On Tuesday, 4 June 2013 at 8am Graham left home and picked up Mark. It was a bright cloudless day. We stopped at Wickham garage to pump up the car tyres. All of them needed pumping up. When did you last check your tyres? We drove down to the Havant Street car park close to Portsmouth Harbour station. We purchased our tickets, had a coffee and boarded the 9:15 am catamaran to Ryde. Once more Mark became an honorary senior citizen for the day. At Ryde we took pity on a couple of ladies, one of whom had a large suitcase and carrier bag. We offered to look after the luggage on their journey along the pier into Ryde. Graham took the suitcase with wheels and Mark took the carrier bag. The suitcase owner was an NHS dentist working in Ryde but originating in Poland. She told us that the Priory Bay Hotel (where Mark had suggested we had lunch) had a new chef who had come from the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen (more..). Mark told the dentist he had recently been to Corfu and she said she liked Lesbos. We left them at the end of the pier and started our journey clockwise around the island.
We strode along the seafront at Ryde and were surprised how pretty it looked. We engaged in conversation
with a man with a
metal detector. He had retired to Shanklin from Frimley where he had worked at Heathrow on drug
detection. On the beaches he found lots of rings and handed them into the police. After a month they
became his. His daughter had first choice. In the local paper he saw a plea for the return of an
expensive wedding ring and phoned the lady. He asked for a likely place where the ring had been lost. It
wasn't there but he thought it might have been lost nearer the sea and he found it. He phoned the lady who told
him how much it was worth so instead of posting it to her he delivered it by hand to the owner in Southsea and
was given an envelope which he opened on his way home. It contained £100. The ring was worth
£1100. We left him to continue ring searching. We accosted a lady pushing a pram who told us that in
April the beaches in Ryde are spring cleaned and topped up with fresh sand.
We continued on to Seaview where we entered the Members Only yacht club (more...) and asked if we could have coffee even though we weren't members. They said yes so we sat outside and admired the view across to the main land. Our coffee drinking (with half a KitKat) was interrupted by a large blast and after a few minutes some more blasts. A yacht race was about to start. How the other half live - 11am on a Tuesday morning at the beginning of June on the Isle of Wight! After coffee we continued along the coast but weren't sure if we were walking along a private part of the coast. Anyway we walked up through a private garden and back onto the coastal path. We admired an elegant building. We nearly clambered over some rocks but got our shoes slightly wet as we walked along the shore into Priory Bay.
Half way along the bay we walked up to the hotel (more...), past a couple of tents in the grounds and said hello to the sole man sitting in the outside dining area. At reception we enquired of Emily if we could have a drink and a sandwich for lunch. Yes we could but we would have to wait forty five minutes before ordering lunch. We could have drinks straight away so we ordered two bottles of Goddards Fuggle Dee Dum and were aghast when a request for £9.50 was made. We retreated with the menus to a shady spot under a very large oak tree. We chose crab sandwiches at £8.50 each. This is not a cheap hotel. After slowly downing our bottles we decided to order two more and the sandwiches. The reception desk was now being looked after by Delphine, a young French lady from north of Grasse in eastern France. She had come to the island to be with her fiancé who worked at the hotel. We learnt that the helicopter parked close to the first tee of the hotel's nine hole golf course was owned by a Russian who had arrived with two ladies. What fun the other half have. Our crab sandwiches arrived with foraged salad, buttercups and crisps together with a small bowl of chips. The sandwiches were vary tasty and we were glad to wipe our mouths with the freshly laundered linen napkins. 'Serviette' would be the wrong word to use. We left the hotel passing the cottage where Mark stayed with Janet and Toby.
We rejoined the coastal path before diverting off to walk through the Nodes Point caravan park. Mark likes well appointed caravans in parks. We arrived close to the beach and walked along a road past the old golf course club house. We walked over the disused golf course to walk along the causeway on the outskirts of St Helens to the remains of St Helens church. We walked amongst a smart estate following the coastal path but where it turned in the direction of Bembridge we sought help to guide us to Brading. It took us up through a modern estate to a large expanse of grass and walked onto another patch of grass and asked if a way we'd seen on the map was still a footpath but it wasn't so we walked further along the road to Brading. We turned off the main road onto the disused Brading to St Helens railway. We walked through Brading Marshes to the end of the track and then along a narrow track to where we met the junction with the Yar River trail.
We walked to Brading station where we found it was being run by an elderly couple. It had won a Railway Heritage award which hangs as a plaque on the wall. There is a small museum for railway enthusiasts. We had a mug of tea and a piece of cake. The train arrived and took us to the terminal at the end of Ryde Pier. The catamaran was waiting and whisked us back to Portsmouth Harbour. Graham dropped Mark at his home and, after another mug of tea, left for home. What a delightful day we had had.