Day 364 West Wight: The Needles

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Lymington, Hampshire to Freshwater Bay, Isle of Wight

12 miles (+ ferry)

Totland YHA

I caught the train from Reading back to Lymington Town and then crossed the Lymington River, arriving at the ferry terminal before midday. This walk has definitely had a big impact on my need to plan and book. despite 6 days off I had not booked a thing and, best of all, was not stressed about it. That’s 18 years of conditioning I’ve undone in the last year!

back at Lymington
I was able to board the next ferry and by 1pm I was crossing the River Yar and walking out of Yarmouth. 

the ferry at Yarmouth
I entered Fort Victoria Country Park and followed the track with the carved animals towards Fort Albert. These forts are opposite Hurst Castle and, together, all 3 protect the entrance to The Solent. 

looking across the Solent to Hurst Castle and lighthouse
At Colwell Bay I stopped in the shade to eat my sandwiches and cake (thanks mum). 

Colwell Bay
The coast path connecting Colwell and Totland Bays only reopened last year after work to circumvent a landslide that happened in 2012. 

oops, there’s been a landslide
what’s left of Totland Pier
From Totland I headed over Headon Warren, the South side covered in beautiful purple heather. 

purple heather on Headon Warren, looking across Alum Bay to The Needles
I could see The Needles and Alum Bay with its chairlift down the cliff. This is where mum’s testube full of layers of different-coloured sand came from. I walked straight past as I’ve been on it before and I didn’t want to negotiate the pleasure park. 

the Alum Bay chairlift
the lovely colours of Alum Bay cliff
I climbed the cliff heading out to The Needles’ Batteries. There were some great views out towards Old Harry. The chalk cliffs were beautiful and white. The Needles looked thin and worn away!

The Needles
Between 1956 and 1971 there was a rocket engine test site here. Black Knight and Black Arrow rockets were held down in gantries and their engines fired up. If they passed they were sent Down Under for test launching. 

the rocket engine test site
I turned East and headed up Tennyson Down to Tennyson’s Monument. Erected in 1897 it dominates the skyline. From the top of the Down I could just about see all the way to St Catherine’s Point and the flashing lighthouse. 

Tennyson’s Monument atop Tennyson Down
Tennyson’s Monument
I dropped down into Freshwater Bay and then headed back to Totland, this time along the roads. 

looking down on Freshwater Bay
The Western tip of the Isle of Wight is an island in its own right as the River Yar runs all the way from Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay, bisecting the land. 

the view along the Solent from Headon Warren
Compton Bay from Tennyson Down
I got lucky and there was a spare bed in the Youth Hostel. I didn’t want to camp in the gale force wind that was blowing. I was able to get a cheap evening meal and access to rubbish wifi. 

the thatched Church of St Agnes, Freshwater

One thought on “Day 364 West Wight: The Needles

  1. Chris F August 7, 2016 / 2:24 pm

    A band from Coventry sang about lunatics and the asylum… from your ‘condition’ after 18 years what a cathartic moment. You do know that no camping signs are more of a guide really…..and who dares win etc etc. Harry and his rocks are back in the script and Mrs N gets more thanks…………on on Juice….not far now but it is up hill!


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