Saturday, 7 May 2011

Whale Chine to Shanklin Old Village – (Isle of Wight) – 04/05/11 – 11.4 Miles – HF Holidays

For day two of the four our hard (long) walking group had picked up a new member, namely another nurse (retired) who was to stay with us for the rest of the week (obviously they are made of strong stuff in the NHS). Anyway our four strong group was the first to be dropped off by the coach at Whale Chine. Now if you don’t know what they are, Chines are probably best described as steep narrow ravines caused by coastal erosion (and there are a lot of them on the Isle of Wight).

Now it is perhaps worth mentioning at this juncture that every day on these HF holidays the walk leaders are alternated, so we found ourselves having to adapt to the slightly slower and more formal approach of this leader. It is probably also worth mentioning, that I found myself slightly irritated over all four days, by the constant stop and listen to another interesting fact approach, by all of them. That said I know people like that sort of thing, and it does allow the leaders to correctly time out their walks.

Anyway from our start at Whale Chine this coastal walk initially shadowed the Military road, before climbing up to the cliffs up around St Catherines point where we stopped to have a tea break, whilst looking down at the 19th century lighthouse. Now as coastal walks go, this wasn’t one of the better ones as basically we were constantly driven inland, and when we did see the Sea it was far below with a big land buffer between us. Also like the previous day I was having trouble with the wind, keeping my hat on, leaving my slap head a little too exposed to the Sun.

Eventually however we got considerably nearer to the cliff edge at Ventnor, in fact in my case a little too near, when I was allowed to nearly walk straight off it. Thus having been unsighted coming up a grass verge and looking at my feet with someone in front of me, I was faced with an immediate hard left or oblivian (such is how we ride our luck in life, and no thanks to the leader for that one). Anyway I survived as you have no doubt worked out, so descending down the coastal steps we ended up at Ventnor botanical gardens where we sat on the benches outside to have our lunch, and where both the easy and medium groups were already scoffing theirs.

Thus both of those groups set off in front of us (with the easy group on a completely different route). However by the time we had passed along the undercliff at Ventnor we had caught and passed the medium group, all the while keeping one eye on the sea spray coming up from our left. Coming a little inland and up an ascent we then explored the church of St. Boniface which is a Norman church dating back to AD 1070. By this time the medium group had caught us back up again, but once we left we the church we showed them a clean pair of heels.

We then climbed across the landslip, which was supposed to be beloved of the Victorians for its microclimate and vegetation. Apparently HF holidays have funded the steps and railings placed here to assist walkers (see plaque in the picture – if you can make it out). We then passed an old ARP Wardens hut in the drive of someones house, where the owner appeared out of nowhere to inform us that Mr Hodges was no longer resident, but rather it had now been taken over by bats. Thus passing Shanklin Chine we then caught and passed the easy group before arriving at Shanklin old village, and an excellent afternoon tea stop. Following which I diverted in my tracks from boarding the coach to go and purchase some fudge and rock for my special squeeze whom I left at home.

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