Friday 5 August 2016
Ventnor to St Helens
Fakenham Farm Campsite
After a relatively chilly night everything was soaked in the morning so I took my time waiting for the sun to dry my tent. I caught the 9.30 bus back to Ventnor and went for a nice breakfast.
I love it when I find a good cafe; La Cantina in Ventnor was very good. It was almost 11am by the time I set off, walking along the Wheeler’s Bay to Bonchurch Seawall. It took 6000 cubic metres of concrete to make this ugly thing in 1988. I think I’d prefer a path on the high, chalky cliffs above.
In the 19th Century Bonchurch was a fashionable centre for writers and artists, now it seems rather quieter. I passed through, noting the pretty St Boniface Church tucked into the trees.
The day was heating up and I suddenly found myself walking through the trees, across The Landslip. There was no wind in here to cool me down. I might have been walking from Seaton to Lyme Regis as it was very similar terrain.
The end of The Landslip coincided with the end of The Undercliff at Luccombe Bay. I couldn’t see the Bay without descending but I did see lots of large and well-hidden houses.
I popped out at Shanklin, the site where the Pluto oil pipeline left British shores and pumped oil across to France in 1944. There was more promenade and beach huts than there was beach but lots of people seemed to be enjoying the sunshine.
I carried on to Sandown, which seemed quite rundown in places; there were a few buildings boarded up and even the zoo looked very tired.
Out of Sandown, ahead of me were Red Cliff and Whitecliff. Appropriate names for these sandstone and chalk cliffs.
The headland itself was called Culver Cliff and from the top there were commanding views back to Ventnor, and across Foreland and Bembridge Harbour to the Solent and Hampshire. I could easily make out Portsmouth.
Whitecliff Bay was where the French landed in 1545 in an attempt to invade Britain before King Henry VIII had built his fort on Bembridge Down.
The path took in some of the shoreline around Foreland as well as some of the more affluent streets in Bembridge. Here the water looked a rich caramel colour. Eventually I found Bembridge Harbour.
Bembridge Harbour is well protected by a huge sandbar called The Duver.
Around the harbour were lots of houseboats, some of which were quite big and all were permanent homes.
I stopped at a small campsite in St Helens, across the harbour from Bembridge. It had been another long, hot day.