Isle of Wight Trip – Day 1 (West Cowes to Yarmouth)

Our first day of walking around the Isle of Wight took us from West Cowes to Yarmouth and it’s our longest day of walking this week at 16 miles.

The day was longest for Liam, who got up at something like 3am to drive to Southampton and then get the ferry across. He arrived on the island at just after 09:00 which is rather excellent going. As usual, and like me, he’s carrying too much weight in his bag.

The others all met up at 09:30 and we were ready to go, nine of us on this lovely adventure. I was particularly impressed with Gordon who gave me a bar of chocolate. He’s just a gentleman and he won the most generous person of the day.

So, we set off, and irritated with Bev’s faffing wanting a group photograph I walked off. I can’t be doing all that smiling at 09:30 in the morning, it’s ridiculous. One thing that is marvellous, it’s the weather, it was sunny and bright today. Although too hot. But at least there was no rain.

There were nine of us on the walk today, most of us with heavy bags and Gordon with his purse attached to his back. Ross was carrying a large weight and Clive looked like he was in the army. But I think we looked brave between us. Actually, with me in the front, I think that we looked quite rugged and majestic.

I decided, as the natural born leader on this trip, to rush everyone around to the first pub. So we walked around Yarmouth, with Katherine offering some really useful facts about the island from local knowledge that I didn’t know. Everyone was lovely company, it’s another nice group, although it’s a bit gossipy. On the speed of the walk, it was a good 3.2 mph I think, fast enough to get the distance knocked out, but without being too onerous.

We went through a town called Gurnard shortly after Yarmouth, and that’s really where we lost the coastal views for a while. Susanna taught me a lovely phrase, “low level irritation with people” and I plan to use it frequently. Being quite intolerant, I’m often at low level irritation level. This happens from time to time on aircraft where people irritate me. Bev will understand.

We went near a small town called Northwood, for those who have a ridiculously good knowledge of the Inbetweeners, it wasn’t as rough as that one. The walk then took us into Thorness Bay Holiday Park and there was a conveniently placed, well, convenience store there. Gordon bought himself some sweets, then Clive was so tempted he bought some sweets. Ross bought himself some sausage rolls and I had a little rest.

We got to our first pub, the Sportman’s Rest in Porchfield, at just before midday and even though they weren’t due to be open, they were. I rushed into the bar to order and I have to say, the beer selection was again not to my taste. But the staff were friendly and the beer I went for was acceptable. It was a nice location and we sat outside in the sun whilst Bev complained about something, I think it was her sausage rolls.

There was some confusion over the food order, but, in short, I got some free chips. What a most lovely bargain. The others had their lunches and we were ready to set off for our next pub. But not before Susanna and Bev had chatted to us about moths. Gordon called them mad. I didn’t disagree on this occasion.

Mind you, Gordon talks about mad, but he tried to fashion himself some implements out of wood to eat his meal with. He didn’t think he use the knives and forks on the table. He’d have been very good as a hunter gatherer, he has a very creative mind.

One nice thing about the pub is that Gordon and Bev had a little play fight. I love taking the elderly out for the day as it gets them out of their homes and they pretend they’re children again. Bev got sun cream on her nose and Bev made fun of Gordon’s head. Children, like I say….

The next stop on our route was Newtown Old Town Hall, which is a confusing sentence to write. This is a National Trust property and I have something to say about the prices, they’re just too high for families. This property had about ten minutes worth of visit to it and the National Trust shouldn’t in my view be charging families a fair chunk over £10. They’re meant to be the custodians of our nation’s future, not the organisation which sets out to deter families.

Fortunately we had a solution for me though, Liam is a member of the National Trust and so he went in with my camera to take photos. Saved me paying. It meant he got a history of the building that he probably wasn’t interested in whilst I waited outside missing out on that (I’m not paying £4.20 to get in, I’m not made of money). But I got the photos. Although one day I’ll get a life membership of the National Trust so I can visit this places. Perhaps in a few years.

The New Inn at Shalfeet was our next pub stop, an award winning food pub that has just reopened. I’d say here that the pub was fine, the staff were polite and it was clean and food being served looked decent. However, I just didn’t like it. The beer choices were again not for me and I’m becoming frustrated at how a few pubs are making no effort to engage with craft beer or going beyond the generic real ale options. Also, the price for the soft drinks I ordered was way too high. Frankly, I didn’t like the pub, it wasn’t for me, but perhaps it isn’t catering for people like me. Oh, and they had a spelling mistake on the menu. I know I make spelling mistakes, but I was just in that mood to find one.

Over the road was Shalfeet Church and Susanna, Katherine, Gordon, Susan and myself probably spent too much time in there. The heavily fortified tower was a joy to behold, a rare site to be attached to a church. On this, and numerous other matters, more will come when I write some further posts on these historic sites. Susanna, as ever, had some useful observations about the church, and it did feel packed with history. And about the pubs we visited, I have more to say about those. Actually, I always have a lot to say, but such is life….

Now, I can’t say too much about this subject, as Gordon has a very expensive legal team watching every word on this blog. But Gordon’s groin is giving him some grief. If he turns round then he yelps. There’s a consensus that he’s exaggerating it, but since he gave me some chocolate earlier, I refuse to believe that. He’s so brave.

Then it was the walk into Yarmouth and I gave permission to Bev to have a little swim. I am the guardian of the permissions on this, as I don’t want Bev jumping in the water willy nilly. She faffed about in it and then commented on how wet she was. So very brave for going in the sea though, it didn’t look very warm.

About thirty minutes later Bev tells everyone that she has left her glasses on the beach. I tried to do a deal where she bought Liam some drinks and he’d run back for him. Well, walk, he can’t run very far. I’d have gone back with him if he shared those drinks, but Bev decided she’d just buy some more glasses. Very much the Gordon approach if I’m being honest.

As we carried on, Ross decided to have a little laugh at Gordon’s purse and Gordon decided to suggest that Bev ate too much. She was livid. Actually, she wasn’t at all, she just plotted revenge. I worry about Bev the most when she’s being quiet and plotting revenge.

Ross was fed up with his feet at this point and I think we should have been carrying more water. I had enough, although only just, but as a group we should have had more. The heat did catch us by surprise, it was a sunny and warm day often with few clouds in the sky.

We then got to the hotel in Yarmouth, and, that’s all I’m going to write about the evening. Highly unusually, I’m redacting what happened. I say redacted, but I haven’t written it to censor, but it’s one of my favourite words. More on the evening of our first night will come later on, but for the moment, we’re looking forwards to a shorter day tomorrow, at just eight miles.