Walkers 2 ‘The Retreads’ Isle of Wight walking week October 11th -15th

A sunny drive through the New Forest as we drove to catch the 11a.m. Lymington to Yarmouth ferry for the Retreads five day stay at Norton Grange, Warner’s Holiday Accommodation. On arrival on the Monday the 21 Retreads were allocated their Chalets and left to explore Yarmouth in their own time. The group first met in the bar at 6p.m.where the route and plan for tomorrow was explained.

 tennysonTennyson Down Memorial

Tuesday 12th

After a hearty breakfast the Retreads met to start the walk. What brilliant views availed us with such a clear day as we walked from Norton Grange to Alum Bay. After a woodland walk we rejoined the coast at Totland Bay and climbed up to the headland at Headon Warren giving us the first fantastic view of The Needles, whilst here some unidentified birds of prey circled overhead. After a break in Alum Bay we continued the walk along the base of Tennyson Down to Freshwater Bay. We discovered an amazing thatch covered church St Agnes built in 1908. A steep climb followed up to Golden Hill Fort once part of the 1863 Palmerston Follies. The next stop was an unusual find, Gary Mowle a cabinet maker who invited us to look inside his amazing workshop.


Wednesday 13th.

As we walked to Yarmouth to catch the Breezer bus the sun came out and there was a good commentary as we sat atop the open top Breezer. We descended from the Breezer at The Needles New Battery. We walked to the Tennyson Memorial with spectacular views across the Solent. After a stop at the Monument we continued down to Freshwater Bay. Joining the River Yar we walked along the East side of the River until we reached a crossing called the Causeway. Here the River was very wide and popular with masses of birds on the mud flats of the tidal river. Here we joined the old Freshwater to Newport railway opened in 1889. This disused line provided a peaceful path that followed the Yar back to Yarmouth.


coastIsle of Wight Coast


Thursday 14th

This morning we caught the No 7 bus to Hooke Hill. We started the climb up Afton Down the sun came out as we crossed with magnificent views of Freshwater Bay and looking back to the white cliffs of Tennyson Down we think called the Nodes. At the far end of Afton Down we were now onto Compton Down. We stopped to picnic here amongst the evidence of the Barrows of a burial cemetery. We descended through fields and a neglected orchard. We stopped to look around All Saints Church where Emily, Tennyson’s wife is buried and a bust of Tennyson. In the bar that evening very nice thanks were given to Carole Reminington for booking the ferry crossing and accommodation and to Tony Westlake who arranged and led the walks.


Friday 15th

Back home day, so packing finished we started a morning walk to Thorley. We set off following a twisty path and pausing to look in the present Church of St Swithun with its Tower in which hang two 13th century bells from the Old Church. We noticed the amazingly decorated organ pipes and beautiful stained glass windows. Two of us went back to find the ruins of the old church and found the South Porch and Belfry Tower still standing. The Retreads wended their way back to the Old Station ‘Off the Rail’ café before collecting cars and catching the ferry back to the busy world of traffic jams and chaos, so lucky to have had such glorious weather.


Monica Westlake


Previous Retreads Trip to Isle of Wight - 2014