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Friday, 26 July 2013

Walk 100 Isle of Wight. Ventnor to Brighstone

 Walk  100  Isle of Wight- Ventnor to Brighstone

(Second leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs to Lands End)

Map: L/R 196
Distance: 15 miles or 23 km approx.
Difficulty: Moderate
Terrain: Mainly footpath and pavement
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport: Possible but tricky, two buses via Carrisbroke or Newport – check Traveline website.

Start walking on the coast path west out of Ventnor. You will come across a large sign of ‘VENTNOR’ carved into the Cliffside. This marking first appeared in 1934. When war broke out in 1939 it was removed for obvious reasons but it has been refurbished several times since then.

About a mile further along is Castle Cove. This is one of a small number of bays caused by the erosion of soft rocks between headlands of more resistant materials. Steephill Castle was built here in the 1830s and was demolished in 1910 - hence the name of the cove. It was a mansion built in the style of a castle.

On this walk a number of thatched cottages can be seen. Also on this path there is a derelict building in the shape of a hut – perhaps it was a fisherman’s cottage or possibly a fish smoking hut.

Soon after St Lawrence, the path goes across the downs with good view of the sea. The start of this walk is called the Undercliff – a narrow strip of land-slipped terrain between the sea and the high cliffs. After a few miles, following The Pilgrim’s Path, (not quite sure why it is called this) there is a good view of St Catherine’s Lighthouse which was built in 1840. It is one of the most powerful lighthouses in the UK with a range of 26 miles.

After Blackgang Chine (where there is an activity centre, rides and Victorian cliff-top gardens) follow the path and road to Chale. At this point the path leads back to the coast with views of Chale Bay and its red sand. The path goes past Atherfield Point then Shepherd’s Chine. A chine is a deep cut ravine. Views near here of Compton Bay.

When I walked this section much of the coastal path was closed due to erosion and I had to walk mostly along the main road to Brighstone. During this long, boring and dangerous walk (no pavements) I came across a bus stop with the name ‘Middle of Nowhere’ – the X40 bus stops here. I agree with the description but wondered who on earth gets off in the middle of nowhere!

The walk finishes at the old village of Brighstone (previously known as Brixton – where I was born - but in London). St Mary’s Church has stood for 8 centuries and there is an old shop and museum owned by the National Trust. It displays information about village life in the past and celebrates the achievements of the Brighstone lifeboats. The pub (tried and tested and gets a tick), The Three Bishops, is named after three rectors from here who went on to become famous bishops.
Snaps show: Shepherd's Chine; Castle Cove; two views across  Chale Bay including the red sand.

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