North Hampshire Downs Group of the Ramblers

NHDG of the Ramblers - Members  Reports



                                                  Trip to Isle of Wight by Richard Keast


Boys Ramblers week on Isle of Wight 16 - 20 April 2018.  Luccombe Hall Hotel, Shanklin.

Monday 16 April

The good news was that after a dreadful winter, this week’s weather was to be dry and warm.

We were taking three cars for the eight of us so the odds were quite good that at least some of us would arrive. As I type these notes on the ferry, Viv has just phoned Ken to say his boots were still by the back door. I’ll not say too much until I check out what I have missing.

With Terry, I had collected Mike from just around the corner and the first talking point of the day was that Mike’s end of our Close was being populated by a host (over ten) of Flowerpot Men. Fortunately I am far enough away not to be effected by a house devaluation, but a serious concern for Mike.

The ferry left on time and the sunlight sparkled on the calm seas.

After we arrived at our hotel we had a short break to sort out our boots (those that had them) and then we hurried up the hill to catch the double decker bus to Ventnor where we were then to follow the coastal path back to the hotel.

A most pleasant stroll along the sea front for a few miles but then it cut inland a little on some quite steep paths. We met a couple of volunteer path wardens who were collecting litter and chain sawing some fallen trees, one being that we had just scrambled across, and so we took the opportunity to have a group photo taken.

On completion of the walk we took the short walk up to the high street and sat in the garden of the The Village Inn and supped a couple of pints of local ale.

With a couple of hours left before dinner we had time to ourselves and I enjoyed a very fast walk down the cliff steps and along to the pier in Sandown and then back. It was a much faster walk than I would have liked as I grossly underestimated how far the pier was.

Dinner was very pleasant with a good range of meals on the menu.

Tuesday 17

With good weather promised, Paul joined me for the symbolic wearing of shorts, the harbinger of Summer.

We started the walk at the Carisbrooke Castle car park from where we admired the view of this pretty impressive pile of bricks. We took the down hill path from the corner of the car park and then started the mile plus long walk adjacent to Lukely Brook. Now, in my defence, because the walk was taken from the reliable AA walks book, a recce walk was not taken. A low lying field alongside a brook should perhaps have been a clue, and we did find much of the path a challenge. It’s never good to have wet feet at the beginning of a walk!

Tony is a great sports fan but I did not realise both his interest and enthusiasm for bog snorkelling.

I did not see the mud dive but did hear the impact. We spent some time whilst boots were removed, sticking plasters administered and clothing changed and during which, Doctor Steve saved me from doing a back flip from the stream bank. It’s so comforting to have a medical doctor in any Boys Ramblers expeditions (albeit retired).

We finally cleared the field/marshland and then began the climb up onto the downs. With splendid views all round and with the sun shining the majority of the time, the previous hardships were soon forgotten. Coffee break was taken at about 600 foot elevation and we could see yachts in the Solent and a wonderful mix of green coloured fields punctuated with freshly ploughed areas.

As we made our way down on the return leg of the walk we spied between the gorse bushes below us, rows of pink and pale blue anoraks topped with silver hair, eating their lunches. These were HF walking holiday folk around thirty of them were heading the same way as us, back to Carisbrooke Castle. We had a quick chat and then headed off just before them but we were soon caught up by the only male walker I spotted in the party and he said he wanted to walk and talk with the Boys as ladies small talk and chatter was driving him mad. His comment, hard to believe.

The castle showed itself across the valley as we emerged from the trees, a most welcome sight.

The next welcome sight was the Griffin Inn at Godshill on the way back to Luccombe and we did what Ramblers do best in the warm summer sun, try the local ale.

Dinner was again very good with an interesting and varied menu. Through the windows of the dining room we watched the lights on the tankers and other vessels coming on as the sun set after another busy day.

Wednesday 18

A short drive in the morning of about ten miles brought us to the life boat station at Bembridge. It was Paul’s turn to lead and we had a walk planned of about five miles along the coast and then inland via the local airport and the NT Windmill. The promised good weather had arrived on time and shorts were the trouser of choice.

Following the obligatory team photo at the start, we passed the large Warner hotel set in large grounds on the headland, and then the much visited, by some members of the party, the Crab and Lobster pub. The path followed the cliff edge for quite some way and it would not be long before some of the path will have to be re-routed following recent cliff falls. Ahead of us, up on the downs, was the large monument but we were to turn inland just before the path began its steep ascent. Now, Stephen T is very good at aircraft spotting, bird watching and as we found out later, spotting fallen signposts hidden in the undergrowth. He does need training however, in telling other people who were looking for the right hand turn that had not materialised. Halfway up the hill it was obvious that a path had been missed and hence the secret location was shared to all.

The path was heavily overgrown and probably missed by all, but after much hacking at brambles and fallen ivy we made it to a more open stretch much used by heavy footed bovines. The deeply pitted path was a bit like walking on a corrugated roof but after about a kilometre we finally had a usable path. We passed the airfield with about a dozen small light aircraft plus a girocopter that were all lined up facing us. I think Stephen not only knew their names but also where they were made.

The path climbed up to the NT Windmill, and as most of us were in the National Trust, or at least purported to be, we took a photo opportunity inside the grounds, and Ken even climbed up to the top. I briefly exercised my arms for a change and milled some wheat. It was all down hill then into Bembridge and the Coastal Path weaved its way between some very fine looking houses behind fine looking gates.

After a quick change from very muddy boots we returned to the Crab and Lobster to sample the local brew.

A very pleasant walk had been enjoyed, and as we found out later, we actually stood on the spot where the infamous Ladies Ramblers party had their incident. Not much talked about in decent circles but it did involve rolling down hillsides and skittleing others in the party, a helicopter call out, two ambulances, local farmers called out with tractor and trailer etc, etc. We will never know the full story I’m sure, and I for one would rather not know. The Boys Ramblers are safer.

A few hours were left on our return and three of us enjoyed a cream tea at the little cafe in the grounds of the hotel. The warm scones, delicious jam and thick cream were a delight, and with the late afternoon sun and the sound of waves below, what could be better. Poor Stephen T arrived for his treat a minute after they closed and we felt so sorry for him. If only he had told us about the fallen sign earlier it might have been open.

Dinner was again most enjoyable.

Thursday 18

A quick walk down the steps and along the beach before breakfast confirmed that with no wind whatsoever it was going to be a real scorcher. We packed our bags, paid our bar bill, and were ready to set off when it appeared Tony had been over generous with his sat nav, and his car battery was dead. Rumour has it that he leaves it on overnight so she can speak to the car and say” You have reached your destination” or “Drive onto a digitised road”, whatever, the car was dead. Fortunately we had a jump charger and it fired the car up in seconds. Unfortunately it had taken some minutes to even find the battery beneath the matt black cover.

We arrived at the Griffin Inn just after ten, booted up and headed for the hills. Basically we headed south and gradually climbed to well over six hundred feet over the Appuldurcombe Down. Wonderful views in all directions with fields a variety of green shades mixed with bright yellow rape. Pale blue shades were also visible, alas not linseed, but solar panels, pretty nonetheless.

At last we were on the way down and we passed the very attractive Appuldurcombe House now run by English Heritage. The grounds designed by Capability Brown greatly enhanced the area but a shortage of time meant we could not take advantage of the free entry. Just before the walk’s end we went through the Freemantle Gate, a very interesting design, but I noticed no one took a photo, (including me), too close to an urgent appointment at the Griffin Inn.

After drinks and snacks we had a last team photo sitting on a bouncy castle. Sitting down was easy, try getting up.

We left for the ferry (once again kick starting the errant automobile) and arrived a couple of minutes before the ship due out before our booked passage. We had saved ourselves an hour on the journey home.

The four day walking trip had been a great success thanks to the planning and organisation from Ken. We are already talking about possible destinations for next year’s expedition.


Attendees. Ken, Terry, Paul, Stephen T, Doctor Stephen, Richard, Tony and Mike.

Walk one Ventnor, led by Ken about 4 miles, walk two Carisbrooke, by Richard, 6.5 miles, walk three Bembridge, by Paul 5 miles, and walk four Godshill, by Paul 5 miles.