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]

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

St Boniface Down

Monday 26 January 2015


As we drove east this morning it was disappointing to see that the cloud was down over St Boniface Down. At only around 750' high, I hadn't expected to find its top fog-bound, but I did have some optimism for it clearing, as we could see finer weather coming in from the west.

Alas, delaying our start by half an hour or so didn't do the trick and the fine weather was looking no closer, so off we set regardless. By the time we were three-quarters of the way up visibility had been lost.

The paths were, however, all good and obvious so there was no problem in finding our way to the top (which wasn't simply a matter of 'head uphill' and the top of the down undulates meaning the highest point isn't an obvious place).

As it goes, I knew that I would not be able to visit the place stated to be the summit by the majority of the resources to which I had referred, as it lies within the high-security radar station which sits up there. We were able to step through a bit of missing fence around the old radar station next door and I declared the high point for my purposes to be the top of a grass-mound-covered-bunker, which was higher than the natural-but-inaccessible high point.

For completeness we did then visit the trig, before making our way along the south side of the radar station fence. Finally, along there, the clear weather started to come in and we could see that we were on a gorse-covered down, with fine views over the east side of the island and northwards over to Portsmoth (if we'd had visibility at the top I'm sure the views would have been 360). We saw no evidence of the feral goats that a sign told us graze the area.

With the sun beating down on us as we made the steep part of the descent down to The Landslip (where Colin was waiting for us), it was feeling positively warm; most unjanuaryesque.

2.1 miles were walked with 450' of up.

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  1. I was on fairly tight schedule visiting both Ms and having a look at The Needles so I drove straight to the top. You seem to have walked a couple of miles from where you don't say. I have driven to the top of a few Ms and don't regard it as cheating. I think I was aware of the higher point and tried to get as close as I could, but really, the trig is fair enough.

    From blog post:

    "St Boniface is apparently the patron saint of Germany, but what the connection is I do not know. I was able to drive to the trig on a proper road. There is also a plaque commemorating a Dakota air crash in 1962 but I couldn't easily find a reference via Google (may try harder at home)."

    Photo caption:

    "St Boniface Down trig. There is also a large mast which was part of radar defences in WW2 which was extensively bombed. It is now bristling with modern tech"

    I did Google the air crash and there is plenty on the Internet about it which can be easily found if you're interested.

  2. I did say where we walked from, although not particularly clearly! If you look to the east of St Boniface Down, there's an area called The Landslip (the name coming from the landslips which occurred in 1810 and 1818). We set out from the picnic area just above The Landslip.

    Had the weather been really nasty, or if we had lacked time, then I wouldn't have hesitated in driving to the top myself. In fact, the car park you visited at the top was a contender for where we were going to spend Sunday night, in which case I wouldn't have driven to the bottom just to walk back up! (In the event, the car park by Brighstone Down was so perfect for an overnight that we stayed there instead, hence I opted for the longer walk in.)

    I will Google that air crash; we commented at the time that the plaque was a bit short on detail.