The hard (?) walking group had picked up another member overnight, meaning we were now up to five (including our leader). This however was not the planned walk, which was slated to be around 13 miles, but rather one chosen by my original nurse friend, as her chest had been playing her up. Thus if I had held out for the 13 miler, then not only would she have gone for the medium walk but then so would the two others, meaning no long walk at all.
Now the first thing you need to know (which I haven’t mentioned before) is that poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson is very big on the Isle of Wight, given the fact that he spent the last years of his life at Freshwater. We would be beginning the trail at its official start at Carisbrooke Castle, but ending the day at Freshwater, whereas the trail continues on to The Needles (no worries as we would be doing that leg in the other direction the following day).
Now although we had seen Carisbrooke Castle in the distance as we were dropped off the coach, such was the haze that it was completely shrouded in the distance, as we made our way, after a steep climb, along Bowcombe Down. Eventually we picked our way through the trail as it wound its way through Brighstone Forest, periodically getting hassled by flies again, until our leader settled on a lunch stop in a field with a nice view below us. Unfortunately this field also belonged to an encroaching group of black bullocks who decided we shouldn’t be in it. No problem according to our leader however, as all we needed to do was move to the other side of a very small thicket that was dissecting the field. Well guess what, just as we didn’t have much problem stepping over it, than neither did the bullocks. At which point I decided lunch was going to be relocated over the gate and out of the field altogether, hastily followed by everyone else. As we then sat on the other side of the gate, the asbo bullocks stared us all out, inbetween trying to physically mount each other.
The second half of the walk found us clearing the edges of Brighstone forest before we eventually began to climb up Mottistone Down with the Sea far away on our left and some ancient burial mounds on our right. Here we came across a guy carrying his hang gliding gear up the hill, who enquired whether we were from the walking hotel (yes). As we sat in one of the mounds having our tea break he made one abortive attempt to get airborne, before packing all his gear up again.
We carried on towards Freshwater on what was now becoming the coastal path with both beautiful views of the bay and Freshwater house (far left in the picture) to guide us. Crossing both the golf course and eventually the military road, we made our way to the house, and the earliest finish of the week (around 1530).