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Where is this?

The Needles are chalk cliffs that extend off the extreme western edge of the Isle of Wight.

The Island itself is across the Solent from the Hampshire coast in southern England.

Once part of Hampshire, the Isle of Wight is now a county in its own right and the largest parliamentary constituency (in terms of population) in Westminster.

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the Needles, Isle of Wight

It sounded like a good idea at the time, and in fact it was a great day out. We would travel across in the ferry, and walk from Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight along the coastal path to The Needles, a dramatic rock formation on the island’s north western tip.

The weather forecast was typical for the Easter weekend, sunshine and showers, so we packed accordingly with layers and waterproofs, in addition to walking boots, socks, blister plasters, substantial provisions, and cameras. The ferry from Lymington was one of the new larger sort, which had more steps and fewer seats than the old faithful from last year. It took longer to load, which played havoc with the timetable, especially at that stage. However, they still served good coffee in the lounge area, so the half hour crossing was over before we realized.

needlesFrom Yarmouth, we set off in a westerly direction, along the pavement at first, crossing the river, then down a well trodden footpath, and towards Fort Victoria. This was built opposite the much older Hurst castle, which lies a deceptive couple of miles across the Solent. Now a museum, with a couple of shops and café, the views of the yachting and sailing activities in the Solent are very impressive. From there we follow the path up hill and away from the coast, through picturesque hamlets, and vast “plantations” of holiday chalets, providing a home away from home and peace and quiet for thousands of visitors.

We made our way to Totland, and ignoring the tempting smells from the various catering establishments, we made our way further along the beach and tucked in to our own picnics. There were plenty of places to sit and enjoy the view, looking at the waves crashing against the sea wall, and speculate on the possibility of needing our waterproofs. However the sun came out again, so it was a case of removing a layer, not adding one.

Alum BayThe next stage was the highest point of our walk, over down which was well occupied by rabbits, as you could see from the droppings everywhere. It was well worth the climb though, as we caught our first site of Alum Bay, with the many coloured layers of rock and sand, and the Needles beyond. Walking gets much easier when you can see your destination!

Working our way down hill, we passed more fortifications, before arriving at The Needles centre, and enjoying an ice cream, but declining the chairlift to the beach. By now the weather had turned very hot, but  as we were not tired, decided to go the extra mile to the Old Battery, and spent an interesting half hour in the exhibition about the rocket testing facility, which had been left of over from the cold war.

Finally, we made our way down the hill and caught one of the very frequent buses back to Yarmouth. It was fascinating to see the villages along the way from the viewpoint of the top deck of the bus, and to consider that our journey, which had taken several hours, could be retraced in a matter of minutes.


© 2009 HiFrom | Original design by Andreas Viklund