Saturday 6 August 2016
St Helens to East Cowes
9 miles (+ bus)
Waverley Park Caravan Site
The wind had died to nothing overnight and so my tent and the long grass were soaking in the morning. The situation was not helped by my pitch being totally in the shade on a very sunny day. Not too much of a problem because the wind had picked up again so I just took my tent down, stood in the sunshine, and “flew” it like a kite.
The campsite/farm had an onsite cafe that opened at 9am. By 8.50 there were 30 people outside. I was hungry so went in the back door that had been opened to let some cool air in. The lovely lady let me get my order in before the rush and so, when the doors opened at 9, I was already eating scrambled eggs and drinking a mug of tea. I left a big tip (even though the fare wasn’t that good so I’ve no idea why there was such a queue).
I set off feeling happy with the world.
Before Nettlestone and after Ryde the path veered inland. It seemed to be taking me on a tour of the posh homes. Seaview in particular seemed to be where the sailing fraternity live. There were some lovely houses facing the Solent around Nettlestone Point, and lots of people milling about near dinghies. On such a beautiful, sunny day I wished I was joining them on the water (or in it).
It was so hot that I stopped at The Boat Inn, at Puckpool Point, for a break in the shade. They had newspapers so I lounged around for a bit pretending that my Saturday was just like everyone else’s.
It wasn’t far to Ryde, just along the seafront through Appley Park. I stopped to admire the lovely Appley Tower; a coastal folly built in 1875 and used as a summerhouse.
There were lots of people strung out along the very thin beach and in the sea. Some people were really quite far out in the sea and yet still stood up, which was a good indication of just how shallow the water was at high tide. With such sheltered, shallow water it’s no wonder Ryde has been such a popular resort since Victorian times. It is also a SSSI and supports many migrating birds, eating on the mudflats at low tide.
I watched the hovercraft ferry coming and going; there was no way a boat would make it anywhere near the shore. There is a very long pier to service the regular ferry.
It was not a day for walking far so I stopped again, this time for a spot of lunch in a nice Italian restaurant near Ryde seafront. I wasn’t getting very far very fast, but it was too hot and I had decided to catch a bus the last few miles to avoid walking on the road.
I walked through Ryde suburbs (more nice houses) before hitting the parkland around Quarr Abbey. By now it was early afternoon and there were scores of yachts in the Solent, taking part in Cowes Week.
I walked past the ruins of the Mediaeval Quarr Abbey. I thought rather ironic that a building of peace should have 2 gun loops for self defence against pirates. I wonder if the monks carried out regular firing practices?
I reached the current Quarr Abbey and stopped to admire it. It was a very large building to be built using small bricks and was architecturally very striking. It was designed by Dom Paul Bellot and built with Belgian bricks.
I walked through Fishbourne, up Kite Hill and across the bridge over Wooton Creek. Here I stopped and waited for the bus. The coast path to East Cowes followed a road and I thought I’d rather see it from the top deck of a bus.
I couldn’t get a glimpse of Osborne House as we went past it and down the hill into East Cowes. Although it was Cowes Week the campsite was happy to let me stay and I pitched in a nice sheltered patch. There was a bar on site and high speed wifi so I stayed put to eat and catch up with my blog. There was a singer crooning old favourites in the bar and I had a lovely view of the Solent. All was well. I had debated heading across the River Medina to Cowes to see what was going on for Cowes Week but was advised it would just be full of drunken partygoers. I could hear the music loud enough until well after midnight anyway. It sounded like a good party!