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Sunday, 25 August 2013

Walk 102 Isle of Wight - Alum Bay to Yarmouth

 Walk  102  Isle of Wight- Alum Bay to Yarmouth

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 196
Distance: 6 miles or 11 km. approx.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: mainly footpaths
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: No 7 bus runs regularly between the two points

From Alum Bay continue the walk across Headen Warren before dropping down into Totland.

There were some strange sculptures in the rocks when I walked along here. Bent iron poles with bits hanging from them stuck into the rocks Are they still there I wonder. The pier at Totland is used by Trinity House for taking out pilot boats and guiding ships into The Solent.

Continue to Colwell Bay. After the path cuts inland there is a building jutting out into the sea. This is Fort Albert built in 1856 as a defence against the French. It was used in later years for the first torpedo development trials.

On the walk into Yarmouth the path passes through the Fort Victoria Country Park. If there is time you may want to visit some of the attractions here. They include an aquarium, an underwater archaeology centre, a planetarium and a model railway.

After a little bit of road walking you enter Yarmouth. This is an attractive town, situated at the mouth of the River Yar and the oldest one on the island. It is listed in the Domesday Book and was the first town to be granted a royal charter. The town cannot be enlarged from its present size as it is surrounded by solid rock. Yarmouth Castle was built by Henry V111 in response to the sacking of the town (twice) by the French. The 215 metre pier dating from 1876 is unique in Britain as it is the only one remaining built entirely of wood (apart from screws, nails etc.) It is a listed building. The interestingly named Old Gaffer Festival takes place in Yarmouth every May or June. A gaff is a specially rigged sailing boat and about 100 of these compete in a three day festival.

Snaps show: The rock sculptures at Totland; Yarmouth Pier; part of Yarmouth town; Totland Pier; Fort Albert, Colwell Bay.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Walk 101 Isle of Wight - Brighstone to Alum Bay

Walk   101  Isle of Wight- Brighstone to Alum Bay

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 196
Distance: 13 miles or 20 km. approx.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: mainly footpaths
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: A little tricky but possible with buses from Brighstone to Alum Bay changing at Totland.

The coastal path continues from Brighstone and runs parallel to the main road. Hopefully, there will be no further damage to the cliffs that necessitate walking along the road. From Brook Bay there is a good view of Hanover Point with its white cliffs and Compton Bay beyond. This area is famous for evidence of dinosaurs including the discovery of iguanodon footprints fossilised in the mud. This part of the coast is preserved by the National Trust.

Shippard Chine is crossed by a small footbridge and a further one at Compton Chine. The next main feature is Freshwater Bay. This is a picturesque cove overlooked by a hotel (with a bar!). The nearby village of Freshwater was the birthplace of Robert Hooke the famous physicist.

There is a climb out of Freshwater Bay on to Tennyson Down with its distinctive monument. This is dedicated to Lord Tennyson  (1809-1892) who lived near Freshwater from 1853 to 1868. It stands 482 feet above sea level and the air here was described by Tennyson in one of his poems as worth ‘sixpence a pint’.  The views from here are impressive.

Continue the walk around to the Needles. The iconic, instantly recognisable, view of the rocks is seen best from Alum Bay  or Needles Old Battery. The latter, now owned by the National Trust is worth a visit. It is a fort from the 19th century and was also used in both World Wars. Exhibitions in the fort explain its history and there is an underground tunnel which leads to a lookout.

Continue around to Alum Bay. A chair lift down to the beach is the best way to view the banded sandstone cliffs. These have more than 20 colours ranging from chocolate brown to strawberry pink. It is now prohibited to take sand from the beach or cliffs. However, glass containers with samples can be bought from the cliff-top shop.

At the top of the cliff there is a small amusement park with cafes etc. A memorial near to the chairlift marks the site of the Needles Wireless Telegraph Station. Marconi and his British collaborators carried out a series of important experiments from here between 1897 and 1900. In 1899 information for the first newspaper produced at sea was transmitted from this spot - to the ‘St Paul’ which was 36 miles away at the time.

Snaps show: Freshwater Bay looking east; the rocks at Alum Bay; The Needles from the battery; the chair lift at Alum Bay; Freshwater looking west; a cannon at Needles Battery.