This blog post is about my epic photo walk on the Isle of Wight from Ryde to St Helens and back, on a day plagued by heavy downpours.
It wasn’t my intention to walk so far that November day, strolling along beaches, seafront and through a small woodland trail. Indeed I had walked parts of this route before, but never the full route and I was unsure of the exact whereabouts of coastal connections, which at one stage meant I had an impromptu meeting with a few donkeys!
I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning.
Ryde to Seaview
I started near the hovercraft terminal at Ryde seafront. Light rain was falling and the umbrella was already out. For five minutes I watched the hovercraft and at one stage with the help off a gust of rain, I was sprayed with extra water as a hovercraft came into Ryde. It wouldn’t be the only time on the walk my dignity would be bruised!
As the day was unfolding I was alternating between my camera and mobile phone to take the occasional photo.
It was around 8am and there were plenty of dogs walking their owners along the beach (i.e. dogs pulling their owners along!). The light rain soon turned into a heavy downpour and as the tide was in, I opted to walk a slightly inland path past Puckpool park in the direction of Seaview.
I had already passed two sets of toilets and near a pub on a corner, there are a couple of water refill points: One being next to the sea defense gate and the other up the stairs to the side of three or four beach huts. Onwards along the seafront I strolled, keeping to the roadway footpaths and passed the wildlife sanctuary, but taking in some lovely seafront views.
I found myself at a decision moment, presented with following the road or walking along a path, which is part of the sea defense. I could see the waves crashing against it, but they were not extreme, so onwards along the seafront and then up a path I ventured, and soon I found myself in the small town of Seaview.
Seaview to St. Helens
I hadn’t walked this part of the route before, and hadn’t intended to on this walk, but even the rain couldn’t deter me. The tide was still in, so I stuck as close to the seafront as possible, not relying on a map, but instinct and wanting to explore. I strolled down a road that on first appearance looked like a dead end, but I saw a couple of dog walkers further ahead. Then I walked up a few muddy steps thinking it was the coastal route, but instead was met by a few Donkeys, who were not impressed when I failed to offer food and left!
Behind me a dog and walker strolled down a walled alley, which I hadn’t noticed! I shortly found myself back at a seafront and just managed to avoid being covered by a monster amount of water as it crashed against the sea wall!
Another coastal path spotted and a short stroll, behind some expensive houses, and shortly I found myself at Seagrove Bay. As I strolled across a small footbridge and zigzagged through some impressive rocks I found myself walking along a small, quiet beach area called Priory Bay.
It was here that I stopped to recharge, and using my umbrella as cover, I topped up my mobile phone battery using a portable recharger.
I definitely should have turned back and not taken the woodland trail through Priory Woods, but up the steep stairs I climbed, finding myself on a muddy path. Again I should of turned around, but common sense had been abandoned, and down the path i walked (slipped).
This is definitely not a woodland trail to use in November, and it soon turned into an extreme slip and slide route, where I used tree branches for support. In reality the path was unusable, but I carried on. Sadly some metal railings and wooden steps were already broken. I resorted to using a fallen branch as a walking stick, I was lucky not to have fallen over. I remember one part was just deep mud and I plunged deep into it, with mud rising up to the ankle. A short while later, I was relieved to have walked down another set of stairs onto a sandy beach, and promptly walked straight into the sea to clean my trainers and lower part of my jeans! Only later did I discover some mud splattered up the back of my jeans! Whatever the weather, I will never walk that woodland trail again.
I had finally reached the quiet seafront at St Helens and the tide was beginning to go out. Unfortunately it was now raining heavily, and I headed towards the toilets. It should be noted there is also a cafe and a water refill point here. I won’t go into detail about St Helens in this post, but please search the blog for other posts on this lovely location.
At this stage I hadn’t bothered to get my umbrella back out, and walked by the cafe, with people looking on, amazed and bemused at the rain soaked man strolling by. I headed up the seafront, passed beach huts and sat down on a wet bench. I opened up my umbrella and ate half my lunch, drank water and had a chat with my girlfriend via my mobile phone.
I felt demotivated, because of the horrendous woodland trail, which I didn’t want to return along and the heavy rain. Don’t get me wrong St Helens is one of my favourite locations on the Isle of Wight, but even this great location wasn’t having its usually soothing effect on me.
St Helens to Ryde
If I had ventured out with enough money, it is likely I would of walked into St Helens and caught a bus opposite the pub, but instead I sat, sulking under an umbrella! It was then I noticed the tide was going out, and soon a route would be opening along the seafront, allowing me to bypass the woodland trail!
Pass the rock pools and further along the seafront, the tide had retreated. What had previously just been a pile of rocks at the sea edge, now showed a path which opened up onto a magnificent seafront area, created by the retreating sea.
The heavy rain had disappeared, the sun was shining along wet sand as I gazed upon broken parts of the sea wall. It was a breathtaking sight, large in scale and wouldn’t of been out of place in the Lord of the Rings!
The whole scene demonstrated the power of the last storm and extreme weather the island occasionally suffers, and it was a shame to see fallen trees.
Onwards I walked, energised by the beautiful seafront, that I wouldn’t of seen if not for the tide being out. I stayed near to the sea edge, wary of the rocks, branches and trees high up. Along the beaches I walked, and at Seaview I carefully walked over the rock pools.
Soon I was near to Puckpool Park once again, but back on the seafront, walking along the sand and only venturing back onto the path near to the cafe opposite Ryde Canoe Lake, where I visited to view the swans.
For me this had been an epic walk! I hadn’t been properly prepared, rained upon, cold and got covered in mud at times. However I was rewarded with plenty of fresh air, discovering a new favourite location on the island and got plenty of exercise.