1st Waterlooville Company

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Circular Challenge

Posted: 2005-07-01 by Mr Trevor Giles

Toward the end of a recent series of Expedition classes, someone walked in and said "I doubt if you could manage to walk the Isle of Wight!" Well, our four older boys rarely turn down a challenge and planning began almost immediately.

We thought if we walked during the Easter holidays the weather might be kind. With 67 miles of coastline at our feet, we arranged somewhere central to stay each night to make life more comfortable!

Newport Methodist Church was happy to accommodate us and we are extremely grateful to the Southern Vectis Bus Company who generously solved the problem of getting to and from the start/finish points each day.

Most would have started with a gentle 'warm-up' but we tackled the greatest distance on our first day, when we were fittest. Cowes to Yarmouth was 15 miles and took us through a variety of scenery. We passed the Cowes Royal Yacht Squadron with its canon, followed the coast westwards and the recent rain had made parts of the trail very boggy. Near Bouldnor beach we noticed a good number of trees lying flat on the shore, a sign of the coastal erosion. We ended the day tired and dirty, and returned to Newport for a meal and night's rest.

Next day we travelled back to Yarmouth and for the first few miles we hugged the varied shore line looking out over the Solent toward Christchurch. In places the path almost disappeared among the heather, and we covered some very difficult ground. However, we eventually crested a ridge to overlook Alum Bay where we stopped for lunch. Climbing to the top of the cliffs above the Needles in the early afternoon, we then turned eastwards along Tennyson Down, ending day two after dropping down into Freshwater Bay.

The next day we tackled the southernmost part of the Island, St. Catherine's point, with its lighthouse. The route took us along the edge of high cliffs, which again showed signs of recent erosion in many places, until we dropped down to the coast at St. Lawrence. After a couple of stiff climbs out of steep-sided bays, we eventually finished day three at Ventnor.

Day four found us at the eastern end of the Island where we started from Sandown and walked up to the monument on the top of Culver Down. As we descended toward Whitecliff Bay, we could see the many fields used for camping by youth groups during the summer. Reaching the Bay we were once again able to follow the coast, this time as far as Bembridge.

With some local diversions we calculated that we covered over 40 of the 67 miles total and were pleased that we met the challenge as well as we could in the limited time available.

Thinking of doing something similar? You'd better do it soon, places like the Isle of Wight are eroding very quickly.

Article appeared in the July 2005 edition of the Boys' Brigade Gazzette, last accessed 24th March 2020.

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