Isle of Wight - April 2011

1 - 4 April 2011

The first Weekend Away of 2011 was to the Isle of Wight on a trip organised by Linda. It began with a walk in the New Forest: Jan's story of the day is below. Clive has written an account of the trip and Nicole has posted her photos on Flickr. Nicole has also uploaded the routes for each day - see the section following Clive's report.

New Forest Walk

This walk was an excellent start to a good weekend's walking. We met just after 10am to allow for travelling. David Meyer from the Wessex group had very kindly organised and led us on a 17.7ml walk around the New Forest.

We met in Blackwater car park on the Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, planted up historically in the late 1800s with some now stunning trees. It was still very much a winter landscape when we walked, but the amelanchiers were just appearing into blossom at the beginning of our walk and we did see some wood anenomies beginning to bloom too. Our walking was on mainly good wide tracks with some excellent views.

There were plenty of Forest ponies around, always a joy to see. David had found us an excellent pub, the High Corner Inn at Linwood, for an enjoyable stop. It was very much in the middle of the Forest, with good food and a fire. During the afternoon our walk took us to the Canadian War Memorial which is a simple wooden cross overlooking a wooded valley and is a lasting memorial to those Canadians killed in action. Further on we found the Portuguese fireplace which is close to Millyford Bridge. The Forestry Commission have retained this fireplace from the cookhouse as a memorial to the Portuguese army men who assisted the locals during World War 1 to produce timber for the war effort. We got back into our cars at the agreed 4.30pm time for a short drive to catch our ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth.

Jan Sambrook

With Linda to the Isle of Wight

This was the Thames Valley Group’s second excursion to the Isle of Wight, the first being in April 2006 when John Lawson led three days of walking from Shanklin. This time we were based at the other end of the island at Yarmouth, where Linda had negotiated an excellent deal at Norton Grange, most of us paying only £116 for three nights half-board in this child free paradise. The rooms were comfortable and the lavish breakfasts provided enough fuel for most of the day. Dinner was a different story, at least on the first evening, when Vim and Duncan had to send their tomato soup back to the kitchen because it was cold, while Jan and Steve dismissed their fish & chips for the same reason. This of course established our reputation as discerning gourmets and we enjoyed a distinct improvement in food temperature and service for the rest of our stay.

On the Saturday morning Linda sent us off on a 16 mile canter, or 'kanter'. Fortunately this didn’t mean trotting along like horses. Instead we were instructed to make a close examination of everything we passed so that we could answer lots of tricky questions set by Linda. A valuable prize was promised to the person who got most answers right or, in the case of a tie, to the person who finished the course first. Nicole was the clear victor, kantering home with correct answers to all the questions a full hour before the rest of us. Her well deserved reward was a smart bum bag, known more elegantly by the French as "une banane".

But the big event of the day came later when five of us - Linda, Nicole, Vim, Steve and yours truly - headed for the butts to try our hand at archery. In general we put up a pretty dim performance with most of our arrows missing the targets completely. This was fortunate for Nicole who might otherwise have become a victim of a second Agincourt.

For our 18 mile walk on Sunday we started by tracing the River Yar from mouth to source before turning south-east to pick up the coastal path which took us to the most westerly point of the island and then along the cliffs back to the hotel. Once the mist had lifted we had fine views of the Needles and the distant homeland.

The following morning we took the bus to Carisbrook Castle where after inspecting the defences and leaving Jan to enjoy the gardens, we set off on a 16 mile linear walk back to Yarmouth, much of the route being along the downs above the south coast. Anxious to get us back in time to catch the 16.35 ferry, Linda set a brisk and challenging pace. Amongst the objects of interest which we hurried past were several ancient tumuli, a pillbox and a slow worm. We arrived in Yarmouth in plenty of time to catch the earlier ferry at 15.45.

I’m sure everybody in the group Jan, Norma, Nicole, Steve, Duncan and Vim enjoyed the weekend as much as I did and wish to thank Linda again for her efforts. She clearly went to a great deal of trouble in arranging the accommodation and in planning three excellent walks, which took in the best of the island’s countryside. In addition we had perfect walking weather with blue skies for much of the time and not a spot of rain.

Clive West

Route maps and other data

Here are the routes as interactive maps. Use the 'Map options' button to change the view. You can also watch a 3D flyover of each route by clicking the button near the top right corner of each map.