Saturday, 23 September 2017

Adrian's holiday in the Isle of Wight

Mike writes: Adrian took 17 members of CTC Cambridge to the Isle of Wight. Initially we were concerned that the weather would be a problem but in fact it all worked out well. We had to keep a sharp eye on the forecast so as to cycle either with the wind behind us or on sheltered roads. We had one huge storm, fortunately in the evening when we were having our dinner. It was dramatic. You could hardly stand up in the wind outside and the sea at in Freshwater Bay was a seething cauldron of white foam.

Freshwater Bay (good)

We had one bad bit to the ride on Sunday when we came home over the hills straight into a very strong wind. We were buffeted about and I did hear someone got blown off but saw no evidence of injury. It was only about two miles but everyone commented on it.

Geoff, Adrian, Davie and Jackie at the goat farm

The next day because of the wind four including Vic and Adrian abandoned our bikes and went by car to the Steam Railway at Haven Street. It is superb and we spent several hours riding the trains and viewing the exhibitions. The train connected with the Tube Trains used on the main Island Line at Smallbrook Junction.

There is a large new shed with three tracks of carriages and other rolling stock at various stages of restoration. Most have been repaired and there is a staging so you can look inside at the inside of the carriages. Others that have still to be repaired are arranged on tracks where you look up to the carriages. They even have some very early carriages that look like stage coaches. Vic and Adrian love old trains. Vic used to work at Cambridge station in the fifties when they had about 150 locos in the yard. I recommend visiting the Isle of Wight Steam Railway as it is one of the best preserved railways I have ever seen.


Various groups visited various places on the island. I don't think any of us got to the east coast at Sandown and Ryde but one group went to Ventnor. Ventnor has spectacular climbs up toward St Boniface Down. The riders claimed one in four gradients which is quite possible. On the last day ten of us went to West Cowes. The wind had eased and the sun was out. Several of us repaired to the Anchor Inn which has a balcony looking out over the entrance to Cowes harbour. We felt like Royalty. We saw lots of boats sailing in and out and the Southampton ferries including the cheeky Red Funnel Ferries which love to compete with the big liners by tooting their horns. Return home was difficult as the climb from the promenade is 20% but it is very short. Fortunately further on the road goes over a bridge under repair which has a footbridge so no traffic. They have almost finished it and have just painted the parapet black and white which looks very nice. The workers were very friendly. Six of the group continued to East Cowes via the foot ferry and then headed south to Chale Green before returning on the military road.

Model village at Godshill Church

The roads on the Island are generally a cyclists' paradise. Several old railways have been converted for cyclists. There are lots country roads. There are lots of hills. We were led up Strawberry hill near Brighstone. The maps says it is one in seven but it was far the hardest hill we tackled. I only just made it with my ebike helping for all it was worth. It took nearly a quarter of its charge in just 6 miles, phew! Adrian took us to Winkle Street near Calbourne. Very picturesque.

Bridge under repair

I had a fantastic ride on my own with the wind behind me on the military road from Freshwater bay to Chale. You start with an easy climb up at about one in ten that looks very steep and then on and upwards for about a mile. Then you dive back down nearly to the sea and the up and down along the road near the cliff edge. There are virtually no trees for over ten miles.

New town altar centre

Adrian led his traditional walk from Poets Corner along the cliffs past the Tennyson Memorial to the Needles. It is a surprising distance of over two miles. The wind was very strong in exposed places.

We had the usual gang of cyclists. We make a varied crew with Jim, Val, Averil, and Mick, who did longer rides. Edgar, Tom, Lorraine, John, Geoff, Doug, Edgar and me (electric Mike) generally rode with groups. David W was up for anything.

We were accommodated in two fantastic houses. There were ten in the house on the hill, called Greystones, and the other seven at Peots Corner. The latter was named after the poets including Tennyson who live nearby. Both houses were very well appointed. Poets Corner was so near the sea that the brochure said you could see the sea from it which was just true.

We were worried by the news on Wednesday that one of the two Wight Ferries was out of commission having had an engine fire during the storm. By Thursday a spare ferry had brought in and everything returned to normal. John went to East Cowes on Thursday and reported that the Cowes Chain Ferry was also out of action. A new ferry had been built for the route but when it arrived it did not fit the landings and was the wrong height so cars were grounding as the drove on board.

Other members of the group are welcome to add their own experiences to this report: just send your text and photos to Nigel. I have many more photos, and video, for those interested. Mike Stapleton

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