Graham and I set out from Horsham on teh 25th to board the Portsmouth ferry at noon. Plenty of time for a McDonalds breakfast (!) and a slow trip round the south of Chichester and the opportunity to drive over the long bridge onto Hayling Island. On the way back to the mainland called into a pub beside the quay for a beer.
Hayling Island is in the distance above, the causeway which becomes a bridge is on the right and crab fishers on the left. Beer in pub behind camera.
The ferry took us to Fishbourne where we slowly made our way west to a lovely pub a few hundred yards from the headwaters of the river Yar near Freshwater, for a sandwich lunch. Then on to the Needles and Alum Bay to walk out to the old battery and view the Needles.
two big gun batteries were built here, starting in the nineteenth century, and never a shot fired in anger from either of them, as far as I could tell. But some good National Trust interpretation, and the story of British space rocket development. Actually based on captured German V2s, and hardly advanced beyond helping the Americans develop their own kit.
Then a fine drive along the SW coast road to Ventnor and the Royal Hotel for 5pm. After checking in we visited the hotel bar for a beer and whisky before heading to the bright lights of Ventnor. To the Volunteer for another beer (Marstons 61 I think) and some advice on where to eat. The pub general opinion was we should try the new place on the front – The Smoking Lobster – so we went there, and booked for the following night. Very popular and busy.
We went a little further to old favourite The Spyglass, and ordered two crab salads and two bottles of white wine.
All that good food and drink did not prepare us for the near vertical walk up to the Royal where we retreated to our air conditioned room to sip cheap scotch bought in Ventnor Co-op earlier with Isle of Wight bottled sparkling spring water and provided for hotel guests.
The spring water comes from Knighton Spring in the hardly-a-village-at-all village of Knighton, which is only a few miles from the larger village of Niton. A website told me that locals pronounce Knighton as ‘kay-nighton’, or perhaps ‘kay-knighton’, or even ‘kay-niton’ to avoid confusion with Niton. So I hope that is cleared up.
Next morning, after smoked haddock and poached eggs for breakfast, we drove east through Ventnor and the prettier adjoining village of Bonchurch before climbing up to the sweeping-curves A-road for Shanklin and beyond. Joined the coast road north of Sandown and then turned west to drive along the delightful high chalk ridge before heading north for the steam railway. From the train we saw evidence of lineside fires, something generally not seen since the change away from coal powered trains over most of the network.
Thought I’d better include a train, so here is one behind my glass of IoW beer:
A sausage roll with that beer constituted lunch, after which we wandered train-related exhibitions. This included a great bit of theatre – a chap applying the third of a planned seven coats of varnish to the outside of a being-restored carriage, all the while waving his free arm about and cursing flies which threatened to land on his work.
A gentle cruise south to Niton (not kay-nighton) for a beer, and then back to the hotel to take a beer out onto the high hotel garden overlooking Ventnor Bay.
Early evening I went for another explore of the town (Crab and Lobster and Volunteer) before joining Graham at a bar on the Esplanade for a pre-dinner drink. Sardine starter, halibut and vegetables for main, G&T and red wine for the thirst. Back at the hotel met 2 couples we had seen in the restaurant so we chatted over more drinks.
Full English in the morning before checking out to visit the Botanic Gardens at least in part for the welcome shade of the tree collection. Was telling Graham about the local green lizard when we began to see them, most notably sunning themselves in the desert garden.
Drove on to Newport for strolling and lunch before heading to the ferry for a 4pm sailing. Then the rain started, but we were forced to raise the hood whilst queuing for the ferry at Fishbourne – at least it provided cheap entertainment for the other drivers.
Raindrops on Fatima’s bodywork!