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Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 7 July 2018

Saturday walk - Isle of Wight day trip [swimming walk]

Yarmouth Circular walk (SWC walk 72) T=3.72
Length: 19.3km (12 miles), but see Shortening the walk below

9.05 train from Waterloo (9.12 Clapham Junction), to Brockenhurst, changing there for the 10.42 to Lymington Harbour (DON'T get off at Lymington Town), arriving 10.52, and onto the 11.00 ferry to Yarmouth, arriving 11.40

A super-off peak day return to Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (NOT Norfolk...) covers the whole journey and costs £37.05 with a Network Card.

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here.

I realise this is a pricey day out, but c'mon: it is only summer for a few brief weeks and sunshine is even rarer (I trust I am not jinxing the weather by saying this...). It is also two years since the SWC did this wonderful excursion. As an added attraction, today is the day of the Round Island Yacht Race. I am not sure of the timings of this, but the sight of a great flotilla of yachts rounding the Needles is very impressive, if you are lucky enough to see it

Otherwise, your day out starts with the wonderful ferry crossing from Lymington - worth the journey from London all by itself - and continues on the gentle north coast of the island to Totland Bay where the Waterfront Bar and Restaurant is a lovely place for lunch if you can inveigle your way into it. This is also a good place for a swim in the sea (a very gentle, shallow beach).

Next you cross a lovely area of heather-clad hills before descending to the theme-park horrors of Alum Bay, which however does provide fast-food style late lunch options if needed. The walk continues up onto the wonderful downland leading up to the Needles (the rock formation at the western tip of the island) and then back along Tennyson Down, with glorious views in all directions to Freshwater Bay, where swims are also possible.

Freshwater is surprisingly short on tea options. The HF hotel to the west side of the bay may do tea: it is worth asking. The Dimbola Museum a couple of hundred metres also has a tea room, but last orders are at 4.30pm. Rather oddly there is no pub (as far as I remember: please correct me in a comment if applicable).

It is 5km/3 miles from Freshwater Bay to Yarmouth, a contrasting stretch to what has gone before as it passes through a flat marshy area along a disused railway line. Yarmouth itself is a very pretty town with a good supply of pubs, but you may well by now be focused on the journey home, which is as follows:

Ferries connecting with trains leave at 18.05 (arr London 20.45), 19.00 (arr London 21.49) and 20.10 (arr London 23.22). If you miss the 20.10 you are sleeping on the beach....

Shortening the walk

1) The easiest way to shorten the walk is by using the very regular no 7 bus from Yarmouth to Alum Bay. This goes at 20 and 50 past from Yarmouth and at 25 and 55 past from Alum Bay to 18.05 and then 18.35. Using this route you could:

skip the first 8.7km (5.4 miles) of the walk and start from Alum Bay - not a bad idea as the scenery from here on is very fine

-  do the walk as far as the Needles and onto Tennyson Down (about 10km/6 miles) then cut back to Alum Bay ("map-led", but in fact Alum Bay is easily visible from Tennyson Down) and the bus to Yarmouth.

2) Getting a bus from Freshwater Bay (reducing the walk to 14.3km/8.8 miles) is annoyingly difficult. There are number 12 buses from there to Alum Bay at 16.20 and 18.20, but these then perversely miss connections to Yarmouth. For the 16.20 this just means you have a half hour wait at Alum Bay for the number 7 Yarmouth bus (depart 17.00, arrive 17.25). For the 18.20, you need to get off the bus at Totland War Memorial (arrive 18.31) and change there for the 18.40 number 7 bus (possibly a different stop) which gets to Yarmouth at 18.58. This almost certainly means you miss the 19.00 ferry, but leaves time for a look at the town and the 20.10 ferry.


ramblinros said...

Good to see this walk suggested. I've added stuff on the Comments tab from the walk directions page - including a reminder to consider still using Warren Farm, just below the path from Alum Bay up on to Tennyson Down, although it operates on a smaller scale than in previous years. I usually keep well clear of Alum Bay by dropping down early from Headon Warren to Warren farm. Best to ring - they were closed in April - usually open Thursday - Sunday 11-4, 01983 753200. Alternatively, 'nearby' High Down Inn is a considerable diversion away from the monument. Last time I then went to Dimbola but they had sold out of food by 4 - it was an unexpectedly sunny day in April. My comment also includes tel no of a fish and chip shop in Yarmouth - so you can pre-order to collect if hurrying for an imminent ferry.

ramblinros said...

You may be too late to see many boats on the Round The Island Race. According to their website, they start from COWES
0630-0810, finish COWES 1030-2200, passing the Needles 0830-1100.
I saw plenty of boats, in the morning only, of the 2016 race,
You will probably see some as you cross to Yarmouth. I may may 'get a ticket to Ryde', bus to Bembridge, walk to Culver and Sandown, but that seems even more expensive - both wonderful walks to celebrate our summer.

Walker said...

N=7 on this walk. I am betting others were put off by the thought of the expensive train fare, crowded trains, hot unrelenting sun and missing the England game. Only in the last of these were your fears justified.

Waterloo was worryingly busy at 8.45 but the train was in fact only ordinarily full - empty in the front carriages, most people mistakenly grabbing the first free seat they saw (OK, I did this too, initially). It left slightly late but only at Brockenhurst did we notice it was eight minutes behind schedule. That missed us the Lymington connection and though the next train was in half an hour, the next ferry was not till an hour later. But the half hour wait on the quayside in the sun was not unpleasant.

On the ferry the Round Island yacht racers could be seen to the west, struggling to weather The Needles in a contrary breeze. Arriving one hour late in Yarmouth we got the bus to Colwell Bay to catch up and five of us had a glorious swim there on a sea of Mediterranean blue, with water temperatures to match. We also had a picnic lunch to save time.

Beyond Colwell Bay there was a delightful breeze that took the edge off the heat and stayed with us all day. So not hot hot hot but just right: w=sunny-with-a-gentle-breeze.

Crossing lovely Headon Heath, with its views and heather and rosebay willowherb we split into two parties. Four of us went to the Headon Farm tea place, which was wierdly empty. I wonder why? Up on dessicated Tennyson Down we met the other half of the group who had done the full walk to The Needles (we had taken a bit of a short cut). We were the only people in sight on this normally busy clifftop. The Solent, on a glorious sunny day in summer, was also almost empty of yachts. What a pity England don’t play crucial World Cup matches more often.

Down at Freshwater Bay two of us had another glorious swim. The other party presumably went on and became lost to history. The four of us remaining set off just before 6pm and had a lovely walk to Yarmouth. We could have rushed for the 7pm ferry but instead went to get fish and chips and ate them by the water’s edge. We then had a glorious golden 8.10pm ferry crossing with the sun dipping low. Someone said it was a perfect end to the day....

But the day was not quite over. It turned out we had a half hour wait at Brockenhurst but that became an hour when a trespasser on the line at Bournemouth caused all trains to be halted (Flog these louts! Put them in the army!!). Despite non-stopping from Southampton to Waterloo (apart from a longish stop at Basingstoke that the guard repeatedly told us was not a stop), this still got us to London just after midnight, about 40 minutes late.

So, an hour delay on the way out, 40 minutes on the way back. I think that qualifies us for a full refund of the ticket price, don’t you? Quite a cheap day out. And one I will remember long after I gave forgotten who beat who in the 2018 World Cup. (Who did win the match, by the way?)

ramblinros said...

As commented earlier, I did decide to try to see more of The Round The Island Race, taking the 9a.m. train to Portsmouth, neatly catching the ferry, then waiting 30 mins for a No.8 to Bembridge, at very low tide, to walk from there to Lake. Immediately on starting on the beach, I saw many boats approaching, led by a black-sailed boat, which may have been the first-to-be-home, Trimaran, Concise Fling, or the monohull,Gladiator. The leaders were four times slower than 2017 due to very light winds, so boats continued to pass me on my route all day. Culver Down was a great viewpoint of the distant boats. I made a bad mistake. Tempted by the still-low water to walk on the beach all the way even beyond the Beach Hut Cafe, to Whiteclliff Bay. Still on sand still for a long way, but then forced tight against the bottom of the cllff, on an ever narrowing gritty path above large boulders. I will now always use the Coastal Path on top of the cliff, from above the excellent Beach Hut Cafe, south of Bembridge Lifeboat. The CP is no longer diverted inland and is pleasantly shady for much of the way. 18.21 train from Lake, linked with ferry, back without delays to Waterloo just before 9. Only 6 miles, but enough for a superb, intresting walk in strong sunshine all the way