The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Brighstone Down

Sunday 25 January

Walking must be my favourite form of transport. Ferries are my least favourite. Today started with a ferry.

By good fortune, the Solent was like a millpond, and our destination (the Isle of Wight) was clearly visible in front of us before we set off. Forty minutes after boarding, we were rolling back off the other side and heading towards Mick's brother's house for tea and chat.


It was early afternoon before we headed off towards our hill, but we were thwarted in our intended route by other people already filling the parking area I had intended to use. The next car park was closed, which left us with the nearest one to the summit, which threatened to curtail our outing down to just a couple of miles. By taking a circuitous return route (more circuitous than intended, as it turned out) we more than doubled that, and introduced more interest into the walk into the bargain.

The top itself had been disappointing, with trees severely obscuring the views. A chunk of the rest of the walk was pleasant-but-unspectacular, being through drab winter woodland. The redeeming sections were those which followed the ridge, outside of the confines of the trees, looking down on the south coast of the island. Had we been able to park in our first-choice location, we would have enjoyed almost the whole of that ridge - but that's the downside of going for a walk in a popular location (with limited parking) on a sunny Sunday.

The stats were 4.2 miles with just over 600' of up.

(Mick pointed out to me, when I booked the ferry for this bit of the trip, that the two Marilyns on the island are costing approximately £50 apiece and expressed his hope that the average cost of the other 1575 Marilyns will not be comparable. Maybe I should have had the foresight to plan to visit the extra four HuMPs whilst we were here, to improve the £-per-top ratio...)

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  1. Two extracts from my post. Other references may spoil your second trip - better to find things for yourselves.

    "By the time I had driven halfway to Ventnor for St Boniface Down (SZ 568 785) I had gained what I am sure will be my most lasting impression of this island - their roads are badly laid with erratically undulating surfaces scattered with serious potholes, and eroded edges with dangerous drop offs. It was like having a prolonged session on a faulty Waltzer at a fairground."

    "A cross country drive on jarring, perilous lanes took me to Brightstone Down and couple of miles there and back of pleasant heathland walking with skylarks which I have not heard or seen for some time. Unfortunately the Dartford Warblers boasted about on information boards were not apparent."

    I did them both on the same day as well as viewing the Needles from afar, starting from Headon Warren starting at SZ 329 863 and walking out to the headland rather than paying £4 for the car park below to walk out on a boring looking path.

    1. Mick's brother, who lives on the island, also mentioned the dreadful state of the roads to us. As it went, we didn't find any reason to comment on their quality, although we didn't go down many little lanes (incidentally, it seems the IoW council has recently taken delivery of a huge batch of 6'6" width restriction signs, which they have installed on every little lane on the island) and at least one of the B-roads we travelled had been recently resurfaced. Perhaps, when it comes to perception of road quality, we're helped by the fact that the lanes local to home are in such a dreadful state that seldom do we find any elsewhere that are in a worse state than the ones we drive regularly!

      The Needles didn't feature on this trip, but we did visit when we were over there in 2010. We would have had plenty of time on that trip to visit these hills too, if only I'd had the forethought to know that in five years time they were going to become of great interest to me!