It's not too far from me, it's a 67 mile loop (we all know I love a loop walk) and the views were said to be incredible. What better place to GetOutside?!
Life has been pretty hectic recently and I needed a break from it all, so thought I may as well get over there and start walking my stress away! So, early on a misty Friday morning I headed for the Red Funnel Ferry in Southampton, embarked and set off for Cowes!
I planned to walk approx 22 miles a day, finishing Sunday evening.
Unfortunately, my knee had other plans...
Cowes - Tennyson Down
When you reach Princes Esplanade, you continue on to Gurnard, bearing left at the beach huts and following the coast path down through a residential area before emerging on the cliff top above Gurnard Bay.
Make sure you stay away from the edges though as the rock is very unstable.
Eventually you descend on to the beach at Thorness Bay, walk along the shingle and then up the road through the Thorness Bay Holiday Park.
I got a little lost here, it was a total rat run, but I eventually escaped the Holiday Park with the help of OS Maps!
From Porchfield you continue along the road to Shalfleet and Yarmouth, in to the village of Locksbridge, where you bear right, following the coast path across the meadows to Newtown.
I wasn't far in, and had maybe walked about 8-9 miles of the coast path, but after a short rest it felt better and so I continued...
Eventually you meet the coast path again, cross a stile and head across the fields.
Here, I met a chap who was walking the IoW Coast path in reverse and finishing in Cowes. We had a chat and he asked if I was camping, after obviously spotting the huge bag on my back. I said yes, and he said it was a poor life decision and I should have done the same as him, carry a small rucksack and stay in hotels... with gin bars.
I can't dispute his logic.
The path continues across fields, bridges and a wooden causeway, eventually emerging outside of Hamstead and on through Bouldnor Copse and along Bouldnor Cliff. You reach a shingle beach and walk along this before heading up to the cliff edge again.
Continuing along the marked coast path, you reach the main road, past the viewpoint and walk on to Yarmouth.
My knee was very painful and I just stuck my head down and pushed on the few miles to Yarmouth Harbour, where I stopped for a little cry. My knee was worse walking downhill, and at this point perhaps logic dictates that I should have stopped.
I had a cup of tea, felt sorry for myself and decided to continue as it was only sore on the downhill sections and I knew I could make up time on the flat/uphill parts.
This descent in to The Needles Attraction Park at Alum Bay was excruciating but I knew how close I was and so I took ibuprofen and pushed on.
I won't stick a photo in here, as I think you have to see it to believe it!!
The path then winds round to The Needles Old Battery (definitely worth a visit if you ever head to the Isle of Wight. If only for the wonderful tea and great views!). I was too late upon arrival this time, but I've visited before.
The Coast Path heads up over the cliff to Tennyson Down here, but I chose to divert and head down to the viewpoint below the Coastguard Station because, frankly, it's unbeatable...
The lady who owns Stoats Farm was wonderful. She got me some painkillers and a Voltarol gel equivalent from her house and it made all the difference!
I made my dinner, got in to my sleeping bag and went to bed, hoping that my knee would feel better in the morning!
Day 2 - Stoats Farm to Freshwater Bay
I walked off the stiffness and continued on from Stoats Farm, back to the point where I left the Coast Path. I headed up on to Tennyson Down and was rewarded with the best views so far.
If you walk just one part of the Isle of Wight Coast Path, then to walk past The Needles and Tennyson Down would be my advice.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson walked on the downs every day and loved the Isle of Wight, composing most of his famous poems as he walked.
I stopped for a cup of tea in the beach shelter before continuing on...
I spent a lot of time complaining to various friends on Whatsapp (sorry Jason!) about how I was failing, I wasn't going to finish the coast path, it was a waste of time.
I sulked, I cried, I called my physio, I complained, and then I realised that actually, it was for the best, and I didn't want to make my knee injury any worse.
Looking back it was a very sensible decision, but I was obviously very disappointed.
I've decided to head back at the end of May, giving me a month for my knee to rest and get stronger.
In the end I managed 24.6 miles on Day 1 and about 5/6 miles on Day 2.
I have 37/38 miles left to walk.
If you want to follow my Day 1 and Day 2 routes - They're on OS Maps here and here
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival starts this weekend, so what better reason to head over and see some of these beautiful views for yourself?!