ladyofastolat: (sneezing lion)
[personal profile] ladyofastolat
I had a day off yesterday, and headed off to south Wight for a lengthy adventure through varied terrain.

I started in Godshill, which was already moderately well-equipped with tourists, even though it was only a weekday in March. All the tourists paused to photograph this view, as seen on countless fudge boxes and postcards. Despite having no fudge boxes to decorate, I duly joined in.


Godshill is very proud of its lily cross, which I also dutifully photographed, before heroically resisting the allure of the second-hand book sale in the back of the church, and heading out into along a rural lane.


I was aiming for the Freemantle Gate, but spurned the direct and most obvious route, partly because I'd done that route many times before and variety is nice, and partly because it no longer has hairy pigs. A track that once offered hairy pigs but has now cruelly withdrawn them is FAR worse than any path that has never offered hairy pigs. Instread, I took a meandering and roundabout route through lanes and farmland and sneaked up on the Freemantle Gate from the side in the hope of surprising it. As I walked under Gat Cliff, I considered detouring to the Worsley Monument, a beheaded obelisk, but "cliff" appeared to be the operative word, so I passed by on the other side.

Here is a view taken through a gap, because that's what gaps are there for.


The Freemantle Gate was once an entrance to the Appuldurcombe Estate, but is now all alone near the top of a hill. From the other side, it look all sunny and tame and pretty, but I prefer it looking all glowery and Dark Lordish


Although it was sunny, the day was annoyingly hazy, with distant vistas lost in haze. The trees still thought it was winter.


Appuldurcombe House was once one of the grandest houses on the island, but is now a roofless shell, thanks to a mine. An explody sort of mine, that is, not one made by tunnelling dwarves seeking gold.


Life then got a bit stressful for a while. No matter how I try to do it, I always get lost when trying to get from the downs on one side of the Wroxall/Ventnor main road to the downs on the other side. Yesterday was no exception. The GPS map of my walk shows a rather comical series of loops, circles and doubling back and I tried, tried, and tried again to find a way - any way - out of Wroxall onto the downs. It didn't help that a housing estate had appeared since my map was made. Finally - finally! - I found a sign that read "to the Downs" so followed it and reached them. En route, every few yards I seemed to trip over a new path signed "to Wroxall," but where on earth the other end of those paths were, I have no idea. Not signed, at any rate.

The Downs should have offered a lovely view over Sandown Bay, but it was all lost in shade.

Then life for a bit stressful again. Boniface Down is the highest point on the island. Although a mere 791 feet, it does all 791 of these feet all in one go, with contours that are as close together as contours can possibly be, without turning into a doomy precipice.

At the top, just before the decent, I was in sunny mood, full of the joys of pretty gates and their happy shadows.


Then the contours hit, and I was reduced to teetering down in teeny tiny inch-long steps, with the rooftops of Upper Ventnor arrayed about a million miles below me, and Lower Ventnor sparkling far below them. I survived without accident, but my thigh muscles were never the same again for the rest of the walk, and are even worse today. Cursed gravity!

There were no goats, either. Last time I did this descent, there were goats. Goats make even the closest of contours worthwhile.

As I descended, I got a text from Vodafone telling me that I was no longer in the UK, but roaming. Ventnor DOES have a repution for being different, but another country...?

Then, with wibbly wobbly legs, to Bonchurch, where there's a pretty 11th century church. I particularly like its font.



After Bonchurch, it was time for a nice brisk stride along the sea wall into Ventnor, where I popped up into town to buy some lunch and some serendipitous embroidery thread. The whole island was arrayed beneath me!

10paddling pool

Then out along the coastal path to the west of Ventnor, pausing briefly to look back.


As I prepared to leave Ventnor behind, a sign with an arrow pointing directly upwards alerted me to the presence of a life-size diplodocus labyrinth. Here it is. If this isn't Probably Ritual, I don't know what is.


Past the Botanic Gardens, then along more coastal path towards St Lawrence, with more glances back.


St Lawrence has an even tinier church than Bonchurch, but it was a tiny bit off route, and time was ticking, so I gave it a miss, and instead went up a steep path to the top of the inland cliff, then along the Niton.

In Niton there were banks of sweet primroses and many, many other spring flowers on either side of the path.


Then along the top of more inland cliff, looking down at St Catherine's Lighthouse (not pictured) and the strange terrain of the Undercliff.


At Blackgang, there is normally a lovely view along the coast to the west, but it was all lost in haze.


From Blackgang, I climbed up to "The Pepperpot", aka. St Catherine's Oratory - a 14th century lighthouse built as a penance by a nobleman who filched a lot of booze from a shipwrecked ship, only to discover that it had all belonged to a bishop.



From the oratory, I had a good 6 miles or more to go, but it was all a bit complicated, involving lots of country lanes and tiny unfamiliar hamlets, so I had to dig my map out of my rucksack and carry it with me, which made it harder to take photographs. This part of the walk was mostly notable for its nice road names: "Roud Road," "Bagwich Lane," "Beacon Alley." Beacon Alley was a lovely sunken lane, but rather stressful to walk along, since it's obviously well used by locals, and it offered no verges for me to leap onto.

Part of the path went along a babbling brook, which is a fairly unusual sight on the island. This was a Yar, but I don't know which one.


Then, finally, Godshill Church showed itself on the horizon, and I was back at the car, over 7 hours since leaving it. GPS tells me it was 22 miles. My legs don't really care how long it was, since they haven't stopped sulking about the contours.
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September 2017

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