I paid a brief visit to the Isle of Wight last weekend, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Isle of Wight Ramblers. In the short time I was there, I fitted in two swims and two walks.
I love the journey from Lymington to Yarmouth, and I was particularly thrilled when the announcer on the boat told us there was a peregrine nesting in the harbour. I saw it on the way back, perched on a pole.
E M Forster’s description of the Island from the hills above Weymouth, from Howards End, is apposite as one travels across the Solent:
Seen from the west, the Wight is beautiful beyond all laws of beauty. It is as if a fragment of England floated forward to greet the foreigner—chalk of our chalk, turf of our turf, epitome of what will follow.
I arrived at Yarmouth at about 6.40pm and was met by the Ramblers’ chairman, David Howarth.
He whisked me to Freshwater Beach, on the south side of the island, for a picnic supper with Ramblers Mike and Marie Slater, and Doug and Beryl Kelman.
In no time I was in the sea. It was quite stony and rough but so exhilarating.
We had pizzas from the van on the beach
and chatted in the gradually failing light.
The next morning before breakfast I walked from Totland on the coast path to Headon Warren. It is largely heather and gorse, with fine views over the Needles.
Then I went down to Totland Bay on the west coast, for another swim. This was quite different from the one the previous evening.
The beach is sandy not stony, and it slopes gently so you can stay within your depth. The water was calm and warm.
Totland Bay is close to the stretch of coastal path which was closed by a cliff fall and we won the campaign to get it reopened.
The second walk of the day was with the Ramblers as part of the 50th anniversary event.
I was on the Island for less than 24 hours but I felt I’d made the best of the time.