Totland Circular via Yarmouth
Saturday 05 May 2018

Day One Tennyson The Needles Alum Bay Totland Bay Yarmouth Maps "The Vine" Read Me

Day One

The "Needles" are a famous icon of the Isle of Wight (IOW). Many of us had not seen them before, so it seemed apt to include them on our walk for our first full day. In the event, we also visited the "Old Needles Battery" (National Trust). We then followed the IOW "coast path" through Alum Bay and on over Headon Warren. Next on our route were Totland Bay, Colwell Bay and Fort Victoria. We skirted around Yarmouth, whose Tudor Fort we had originally intended to visit. Then we made for the Freshwater Way and reached Freshwater Church and the Red Lion "next door". Onwards we went, past "The Vine", which we would visit later in the evening, finally coming back to our hostel. The weather during the day had been warm and sunny, but all had been doable and good exercise.

Here are "The Needles" as seen in reasonable close-up from the "Old Needles Battery".

Tennyson's Memorial on The Downs

From our hostel, it was a shortish walk to Tennyson Down and the Tennyson Monument, which, due to its prominent position and its height of 147 metres, gave us a good all-round view, towards the Needles, towards Fort Albert and the Mainland, and towards the east, where we would be going the next day. The monument to Tennyson (18091892) lies on the appropriately named Tennyson Trail and was put up in 1904.

We set off on our Saturday Walk.
Tennyson's local, the "High Down Inn", is the white building in the background on the right.
We forge on; we shall be visiting the "Red Lion" in Freshwater later in the afternoon.

We have reached Tennyson's Monument (147 m).
From here we have an excellent all-round view. Time for a natter.

We are still here ...

... but not quite sure about getting a group picture taken.

Onwards we go towards the Needles.

The Needles and Old and New Batteries

The layout around the Needles involves the Old and New Batteries as well as the Rocket Testing Site. We had limited time but managed to visit the Old Battery which - of the three - is closest to the Needles. The Old Battery was operational between 1864 and 1945, its purpose being to protect the Solent and the dockyards at Portsmouth. We stopped for a quick visit and a tea break, before going on to Alum Bay and Headon Warren.

On the Down we see this entrance which probably leads to the New Battery. The New Battery was used between 1950 and 1970 as a rocket testing site. The pressure waves generated by the rocket tests used to blow out the ceilings of houses almost as far away as the High Down Inn. I wonder what compensation the MOD paid local house owners when their ceilings collapsed.

We stop awhile near the "mystery entrance",
which closer inspection reveals to be locked off from the outside world.

Anyway, the view outside across the Solent seems to be more interesting.

We find our way down to a view point of the Needles, to left (south) of the said Needles.

We stop for a group picture.
We are all here, but where are the Needles?

We visit the Old Battery (National Trust)
and find more vantage points from which to photograph the Needles.

Here are the Needles again ...

... and here are some of us in front of the Needles.

More Needles ...

... and more Needles ...

... and more Needles.
Then it's time for tea and cake in the Old Battery before we head over to Alum Bay.

Alum Bay, "Wise Words" and Toys, and Headon Warren.

Alum Bay, when we visited it, was a hot tourist hot-spot. From the distance, we could not see the tourists, but we could take in the multi-coloured rock above Alum Bay Beach. In Alum Bay, we looked at a display of "Words of Wisdom". Then we headed for Headon Warren, from the top of which we stopped for some lunch and enjoyed the view back to the Needles on the other side of Alum Bay.

The famous multi-coloured cliff face at Alum Bay.

More of the famous multi-coloured cliff face at Alum Bay.

We stopped long enough in Alum Bay to absorb the "words of wisdom", presented to us with lots of toys and trinkets. We were invited to contribute to a worthy cause, the Totland Bay Lifeboat, which can be kept quite busy in the stormy weather which can come to these parts, especially near the Needles. In case you are wondering what the "wise sayings" were, well, here is a selection. You, dear visitor to this web page, can be the arbiter of their relevance to modern every day existence.

  • Hard work never hurt anyone ... but why risk it?  

  • Laugh and the world laughs with you.
    Snore and you sleep alone!!

  • Never put off until tomorrow
    what you can avoid altogether.

  • If evolution works,
    why do mothers only have one pair of hands?

  • If you can smile when things go wrong
    then you have someone in mind to blame.

  • To err is human,
    but to really mess things up requires a computer.  

  • I am, therefore I think,
    I have put Descartes before the horse!

  • Give me flowers in profusion.
    Give me sand so bright.
    Give me air without pollution.
    Give me the ... ISLE OF WIGHT.

Here, for your delectation, are some of the sayings you can find in Alum Bay.

There was indeed, a profusion of ...

... trinkets and sayings ...

... enough to keep us engrossed for five to ten minutes at least, before we made a getaway from the crowds of tourists and headed for Headon Warren.

So onwards we went, up to Headon Warren, from whence we could look back to the Needles and the Alum Bay chair Lift. On Headon Warren, we decided we had found a suitable place for a lunch stop - lunch with a view.

Needles and Alum Bay chair lift.

Lunch stop, Needles and Alum Bay chair lift.

Totland Bay

We followed the Coastal Path past the touristy areas of Totland Bay. On the way we enjoyed views across the Solent to the mainland. We passed a strange Russian connection as well as the "Old Lifeboat House", and we learnt about Totland Tides.

We stayed with the Coastal Route, ...

... enjoying views across the Solent, ...

... as we descended into Totland Bay, which was quite busy
as one would expect on a sunny Saturday before the Bank Holiday.

On our descent, we passed the "Hermitage" B&B. What the connection with the famous museum in Saint Petersburg was, we could not fathom.

Anyway, the double headed Russian Imperial Eagle called for a picture.
So here it is.

Our path took us down to Totland sea front, ...

... past the old Lifeboat House ...

... and information on Totland tides.

Yarmouth and Freshwater

We forged ahead along the Totland Bay sea front which was crowded with holiday makers. In days of yore one might have said, "The candy floss folk". However, eventually we reached the more tranquil wooded area south of Fort Victoria. We met an old soldier in bronze, sitting on a bench. Catherine spoke to him, but, surprise, surprise, he did not reply! We made a short detour to the said Fort, and then stayed on the Coastal Path as far as Yarmouth. From here we took the Freshwater Way across the open countryside to Freshwater Church. We could not assess its interior architectural merits, for it was closed. However, the other aspect spiritual nearby, in the form of the "Red Lion" was definitely open for visitors. We found that a half pint or even one pint of the appropriate liquid refreshment went down well, especially as the weather was warm and sunny. We then made our way, via our planned evening venue, "The Vine", along a maze of paths, back to our hostel. So ended our invigorating walk - all 13 miles or so of it.

We met an old soldier in bronze, sitting on a bench.

Catherine spoke to him, but, surprise, surprise, he did not reply!

Nowadays, Yarmouth caters for the yachting fraternity.
(Picture taken on 8 May.

On the Freshwater Way we encountered this equine in a field. My knowledge of equines is far from perfect. It looked like a young creature. Was it a Donkey? Answers on a postcard, please!

Eventually we reach Freshwater Church, which is closed, locked and bolted.
So we turn our attention to the other aspect spiritual nearby, namely, the "Red Lion".

Here we are, refreshed after having visited the "Red Lion".
It's not too far to our hostel now.
We are going via "The Vine" which we shall be visiting later for our evening meal.

Our Evening at "The Vine"

Georgina had booked tables at "The Vine" in Totland Bay for Saturday evening. The pub was in downtown Totland and easy to get to. We enjoyed the occasion. We had the opportunity to "exchange notes" on what we had all been up to during the day, and indeed and on what ideas we had for Sunday.

Our respective orders would soon be coming ...

... but in the meantime we had the chance to try some local brews.

Most of our group came to "The Vine" ...

... and I managed "to commit at least some of us to pixels".

Eventually our evening drew to a close ...

... and we set off back to base. What would the morrow bring?