Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Walking on the Isle of Wight. . .

My mum came over for a few weeks to visit and we travelled down to the Isle of Wight for a week's walking with HF Holidays. I highly recommend them; we've taken several guided walking holidays with them and the leaders are great, the food is wonderful and the accommodation, especially in the houses that HF owns in the UK, is really comfortable.  Just look at where our house was situated in Freshwater Bay; we woke up to a gorgeous view of the sea from our room every morning.

 And beautiful sunsets were also close to hand.

There is an odd assortment of housing on the island.  Alongside some of the ugliest concrete holiday homes I've ever seen (couldn't even bear to take a photo of them)  are quaint villages with picture-postcard thatched cottages.

And even a thatched church!

These beach homes were built in the 1950s and though they look quite fresh and modern, most of them have been boarded up for years. 

The wildflowers were everywhere.

And plenty of sheep too! (these were being rounded up by the farmer to get their injections)

There were lots of ingenious pathways through the fields. See this green boundary? From afar it looks like a set of large hedges.  But once reached, it contains a hidden right of way, often completely shaded which was a welcome sight as we were walking in a mini-heatwave.

But many of our walks were naturally coastal and there is a long distance path that goes right around the island. We frequently walked parts of this path.  On the first day, we visited the famous Needles and  the nearby chalk cliffs.

I had previously thought that the landscape would be very rocky like Cornwall, but it's very gentle, more like the South Downs.  This is a shot of the famous Tennyson Down that was just above our house.  You can just glimpse the monument at the top.

My favourite walk was along the Tennyson Way - starting at Carisbrooke Castle and crossing the countryside along the spine of the island to the sea. There were magnificent views and enough up and down to make it interesting.

Another pleasant surprise (I really hadn't done any research before this trip) was how literary Freshwater Bay was.  Places named after Tennyson should have given it away (or Virginia Woolf's play Freshwater!) but I didn't really put two and two together until I got there.  More on that in the next post.

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