Chalk path on the downs around Gatcombe by boxplayer

Chalk path on the downs around Gatcombe

Gorgeous views on what was apparently a 6-milesish circular from Gatcombe. Didn't feel that long. Gloriously sunny all afternoon.

An early alarm at 6 - finished packing, breakfasted, closed up the house, then got the tube to Waterloo. The streets were oddly empty for a weekday but the tube was busy as ever. Always nice to be going away for a nice weekend when people are going into work.

Had left plenty of time, so was able to pick up some bits and bobs from Boots at the station and sandwiches for lunch from M&S. No mobile tickets this time, thank goodness, really hate them, but had printed-off e-tickets instead with a barcode which worked very well surprisingly.

Got the train to Portsmouth Harbour (a fairly empty commuter-type train) and got a great view of the Spinnaker Tower and what looked like a big war memorial as we pulled in.

We made our way to the station exit rather confusedly trying to find our way to the ferry terminal which was at something called Gunwharf Quay - we knew it was a 10 minute walk away but there were no signs other than for the pedestrian departure point. Asked down there for directions and was pointed the right way and then S phoned to say we might get on the earlier 11am sailing.

So we rushed like mad things through the shopping mall and all around the edge of the quay struggling with bags - we had small holdalls which, though relatively light, were rather awkward to carry on ones shoulders for long periods and certainly not made for running. Needless to say we didn't make it.

We nearly ran into T who was looking very frail having injured himself by falling flat on the pavement - looked like he'd seriously strained some muscles around his ribs falling flat on the pavement the previous day. They'd almost had to cancel - S had had mad plans of driving us onto the island so we could get to our apartment, then driving back home again.

We took tea in the terminal cafe sitting outside looking at the old harbour: very pretty, like a fishing village almost, with Flemish-like terraces of house. Finally got to drive onto the ferry and found a table just inside the doors to the front deck.

I ate my sandwich then went outside, togging up in my waterproof as it was very windy - warm enough but ended up with sore ears and a cold sore. The others, having left their waterproofs in the car, stayed in mainly.

Lovely views across the Hampshire coast and to the Isle of Wight - it looked so green and lush. Lots of yachts were bobbing about on the calm sea - looking like they were about to get run over by the ferry - but they never did.

As we neared Fishbourne, got sight of an interesting tower, Quarr Abbey apparently - where there are real monks. Got back to our cars and drove off onto the island. Very small narrow roads initially and quite horrendously busy for the first 15 mins. Quietened eventually as we headed to the tiny hamlet of Gatcombe.

There didn't seem to be anything there but houses and a church and an amazing scarecrow festival. But oddly there were lots of cars parked up by the church - never really understand why that was.

The church was a simple affair but with Morris & Co windows: by Morris, Burne Jones and Rossetti. Also some very simple medieval fragments. It was a lovely afternoon, with warm sunshine, the smell of wild garlic, and lots of birdsong. A great start to the weekend.

After the church, we all fannied about ab bit getting stuff together for the walk - poles, maps, map cases and what not. We walked a shortish loop down south over Chillerton Down and back round to Gatcombe, following blinding white chalk paths and past some interesting old chalk quarries. A bit of woodland but mainly open downland with views to the sea on all sides, and some open fields.

A huge TV mast dominated a lot of the walk and there was a particularly difficult steep descending bit with uneven ground where Dave had to help me along. My knees started aching quite a lot after that.

Got back to the cars and drove to the apartment via Brighstone, stopping at a great village shop for bread, jam, butter, wine, crisps and fruit. The apartment was part of the private Brook House estate, along with a couple of other rentals and the main manor house.

Our apartment was on the first second floor, so we were met by the most vertiginous narrow staircase to get to the main rooms. All the main rooms, kitchen, living room, the 2 bedrooms and main bathroom were all on the same floor, so we didn't have to go up the steep stairs too often.

We had a bit of wine and crisps then walked the half mile to the Sun Inn in Hulverstone where we got 10 per cent off our food with a coupon that Dave had found in the magazine I'd picked up off the ferry.

We had a table with a view west to the end of the island and Dorset and the sun setting over the treeline. Wasn't quite warm enough to sit outside though so we stayed inside alongside a table with an entertainingly couple of mad beagles. They were rather loud especially when they saw other beagles apparently.

Lovely food we had with white wine and for me a Mermaid gin. Rather irritatingly they put the tonic in so I didn't get to try it out neat. The chilli butter monkfish with wild rice and samphire and some kind of battered cauli was gorgeous though. As was Dave's battered hake and chips. T had a huge pork belly and S rather disappointingly a small salad.

Walked back in the lovely evening light, the sheep baaing in the fields and birds still singing. Noticed a lovely wooden modern house as we walked down the lane to the apartment. Set me and Dave off dreaming of building our own eco home.

Watched a bit of news with chocolate and a Babybel. The cup of tea I made with our own leaf tea tasted vile though rather oddly.

Evening falls

31 May 2019
Gatcombe, Isle of Wight
Very different path to the streets of London! Lovely walk but I like streets better these days....just a change from the norm plus it’s more wandering!
June 12th, 2019  
Beautiful peaceful scene
June 15th, 2019  
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