Archive for the ‘Isle of Wight’ Category
Approaching Swanage Bay at the end of a seventeen mile dawn run along the coast path, yesterday. The cloud and haze were quickly dispersing, promising a gorgeous sunny breakfast on the seafront with Mrs R and Baby R. All good.
No blog posts as of late, because things have been somewhat busy on the work and life front. I missed the bank holiday weekend due to work (I took a group of students to Belgium and France, hence the pseudo-arty mobile phone pic of Bruges below) and the following weekend was my daughter’s first birthday…it turns out that these things are on a par with the Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in terms of organisation and logistics involved. All good, though, and I might just have squeezed a quick paddle and also a splendid MTB ride in when Mrs R had her back turned.
Still busy this weekend too, indeed I was stuck in work all day today. But the good news is that I spent part of yesterday patching up my sea kayak, with next weekend in mind…we are heading off to the Isles of Scilly! A break is much deserved I feel, and if all goes to plan I will end the holiday week by heading straight from Cornwall to the Isle of Wight and attempting something silly. Nothing can go wrong.
Returning to Milford-on-Haven after a wonderful paddle to the Needles lighthouse on the Isle of Wight. There was a small but solid swell dumping onto the steep pebble beach, so we had to wait for lulls and time our landings carefully. All went to plan, all good.
Launching from Milford-on-Sea for a paddle to the Needles lighthouse on the Isle of Wight. A perfect evening to explore this extraordinary serrated chalk ridge. Waves were breaking hard in the gaps between the chalk stacks, making for some interesting moments as we each tried to pick calm moments to pass through…with greater or lesser success. All ended well however, and we eventually turned around and headed back towards the mainland…
The not-especially-informative image above shows waves breaking over the Shingles Bank. The Shingles is a huge shallow area in the western approach to the Solent; lastyear I saw a large ship run high and dry aground here in low water spring tides, from the cliffs of the Isle of Wight.
I’d completely forgotten about them when we set off yesterday for a paddle from Milford-on-Sea to the Needles lighthouse. Our planning consisted solely of a guesstimated bearing and no map or chart. It was slightly inconvenient then, to encounter a two metre swell breaking hard over these shallows and barring our path. Thankfully, after paddling alongside the breakers for a while, we managed to thread a path which didn’t lead to annihilation by surf.
The photo above was taken later on the journey back, from a safe distance of about a mile away…for some reason I was disinclined to get the camera out whilst in the midst of it all…
Sorting the gear out after a great evening paddle from Milford-on-Sea to the Isle of Wight, and back. We landed back at the exact moment when the sun sank below the Purbeck hills, to the west.
Looking across Poole Bay from Swanage to the Isle of Wight. It seemed close enough to touch…but the crossing by kayak is actually about 18 miles. Must try it again, sometime soon.
A few more images from our splendid adventure paddling around the Isle of Wight, a few weeks back.
I try to find time to paddle around the Isle of Wight every year; it’s a great adventure, especially if compressed into one weekend. The variety of challenges and experiences is amazing; in 100km, you have to tackle very strong tides, cliffed out areas, large tide races, busy shipping and (at this time of year) quite a lot of night paddling.
I’d had last weekend pencilled in for quite a while, on account of the strong tides predicted. As the weekend finally drew near, it became clear that there was actually going to be great weather…yippee! Four of us launched from Keyhaven at 11 pm on Friday night. 41 hours later, we arrived back at Keyhaven, having spent about 13.5 hours paddling, of which about 8 were at night. We didn’t suffer last year’s Arctic weather or soul-destroying headwinds; it was all rather pleasant and civilised, in fact.
SAR helicopter training at the Needles, Isle of Wight. He was dangled right down between the Needles to water level and then winched up again. Rather him than me; funny, what some folk will do as a day job…
There are only two on the Island; the Needles (above) and St Catherine’s Point (below). Both are spectacular to paddle past, in exposed locations and overlooking significant tide races.
Today I needed to get out and clear my head from a tough week, but the weather wasn’t playing ball – too windy for sea kayaking, too dry for white water.
A decent Plan #B was needed. The Isle of Wight never disappoints, so I hopped onto a train and then a ferry, to do something I’ve meant to for a long time; mountain bike the Tennyson Trail. This long bridleway snakes across the south of The Island, perched atop some glorious chalk ridgeway, 600-700 feet above the English Channel. It’s so-named for the Victorian Poet Laureate who lived at Freshwater Bay (above) for four decades, regularly walking on the ridge for inspiration.
With the wind in your hair, the sea far beneath you, and your saddle repeatedly being rammed into your backside, all the cares in the world disappear.
Post-WWII, the development of atomic weapons made coastal fortifications obsolete. The ‘strategy’ of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) reduced the concept of defence to, surviving a Soviet nuclear onslaught just enough to be able to retaliate in kind. This ‘Cold War’ left its imprint on our coastal landscape. Enormous radar domes were constructed to detect incoming missiles, e.g. RAF Saxa Vord on the island of Unst in Shetland. The Needles Battery on the Isle of Wight became the unlikely location of a rocket testing station.