On this visit, it was like discovering the Isle of Wight for the first time
My memory of my first visit is sketchy. I recall, staying in a converted Mill and being told that E.P Thompson; Historian and Author (Of the Making of The Working Classes) had some connection to it. What that connection was I’m not entirely sure. I did feel as if I was discovering the Isle of Wight for the first time -it felt like a distant land, surrounded by sea. Imagining living there I thought it might feel a bit cut off. Although the idea of being away from a major city like London and having all that space has its’ attractions.
Discovering the Isle of Wight public transport
Getting to the Isle of Wight from London is easy, take a train from Waterloo to Portsmouth. Then from Portsmouth, a ferry (Catamaran) to Ryde pier. From Ryde Pier, there is an old-fashioned London tube train and there is one line only. At this time of year (off-peak) only one train an hour. You can pay on the train. Once on the Island, they have a very good bus service.
On our first day without much of a plan, we walked over 15 miles
Exploring the Isle of Wight, is fairly easy, as the coastal path is well-signposted and accessible. We started off at Shanklin walking along the top of the beach and headed uphill and down towards Sandown bay. We just kept going and hoped for the best.
You are never far from the Sea on the Isle of Wight.
We had lunch at the Crab and Lobster in Bembridge then carried on over towards St Helens and Seaview where we walked aside the windswept waves, taking care not to get swept away!
The coastal path is very well sign posted, but we had to go inland a lot, it was pleasant enough in the woods mainly. Eventually ending up at Ryde at about 7pm. It was a long day, but worth it. We hadn’t made plans for the following day but wanted to avoid the Goth Party at the Hotel later on.! After that long walk, I might have fancied a spa, or swim followed by a massage and early night, but there was no chance of that!
Eating out in Shanklin
On the first evening, we ate out at The Black Cat a Thai restaurant. The Guy serving us was from London and it was his family’s business. He was a journalist and had lived in Brixton. This made for some easy conversation; he made us feel so welcome. We had a similar experience the following evening after our 15-mile walk. We were pretty tired and ate out at Pendletons.www.pendletons.org where again the waiting staff were so friendly and welcoming.
Fantastic Friendly service is something unusual these days
On our third night, we ate in an Indian restaurant and then went over the road to a makeshift bar. There the landlady kept us amused telling us of her outsider status; she had worked in healthcare but somehow ended up taking over the business from her daughter. We got a 2-for-1 drink and chatted with her. We told her the name of the hotel we were staying in, The Nightingale which ‘everyone in the village has heard about. She seemed to think there were orgies going on in there due to its Gothic Status.
Originally it was a private house (a mansion, of which there are a lot on the island) known as Blenheim in the late 1800.s and named the Nightingale as an ode to Keats the poet.
The murals outside were mainly of dead Rockstar’s! all of whom I have loved, in my time.
It was a bit of an eyesore to see a mainly black-painted hotel with Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Curt Cobain, and Amy Winehouse images painted on it. However, the heated outdoor swimming pool was welcome, and the room was small but nice. The hotel did advertise as having a vegetarian restaurant. I had been looking forward to sampling the food on arrival, but we were told it was closed for the season.
Although we were welcomed and invited to the Gothic party on Saturday, at £40 ahead! (that was just to reserve a seat.)When I booked the hotel, I had asked if there were events on and had been told no. So I wasn’t impressed, but what can you do? Perhaps a complimentary bottle of champagne or Prosecco might have helped! (I think my goth days lasted about 3 months, sometime around 1981! I just wasn’t into that.)
Instead, we stayed out in town sampling the local beers till as late as possible, there was a bit of live music on in town. We returned later for a couple of dances in their private bar later. Who knows what was going on behind closed doors in the early hours. I was past caring at that point
Walking from the Needles to Freshwater Bay
The following day we jumped on a coastal route bus
You can jump on and off the coastal bus for a 24-hour ticket for a tenner. I was a bit disappointed with the Needles, we jumped off there and were faced with a tourist trap. So walked a bit further until we came across the Needles.
We visited the National Trust Exhibition at the Needles,
Followed by a walk up to Tennyson Monument and down to Freshwater where we sat on the seafront with an ice cream watching the sea
I liked the look of Ventnor and would visit again
We picked the bus back up to Ventnor and considered walking back to Shanklin and decided against it as time was running out; as the days draw in. It was just as well really, as the following day, we walked from Shanklin to Ventnor and 4 miles of the walk was in the woods. I wouldn’t want to get stuck in there late at night.
Ventnor seems to me to be an interesting little town. However, the train does not go there. As we were heading up and out of the town, back to Shanklin. I looked back and noted a plaque to `Karl marx, turns out he lived there for a period of his life.
Our last walk was from Shanklin to Ventnor
We really didn’t have a clue about the island, so it was a real treat to find this walk. Mainly in the woods alongside the coast. It felt so refreshing with hardly a soul about it. What with a cold coming on and a hangover, we were feeling somewhat fragile at this point. We arrived at Ventnor and had lunch on the seafront. It was a bit late to get to the Botanical Garden, & we felt like we were done with walking. We were traveling back to London the following day. The only thing left to do was have a rest before going out for our final meal in town.
Photo Gallery for more photos go to my photo gallery.
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