Totland Circular via Yarmouth
Saturday 05 May 2018
|Day One Tennyson The Needles Alum Bay Totland Bay Yarmouth Maps "The Vine" Read Me|
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.
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 (1809–1892) lies on the appropriately named Tennyson Trail and was put up in 1904.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.