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Isle of Wight Walking Festival

The following entries will be walks I’m doing – either leading or participating in – on the Isle of Wight Walking Festival.

Day 1 October 9th


My first walk as a walk leader! See pics in Shanklin to the Landslip Walk section – a beautiful walk along Shanklin/Luccombe Downs and then back along the coastal path. For anyone reading this who was there, I am happy to send you extra photos of both the day and that route taken at other times of the year.

Day 2 October 10th

I spent the day at the Hullabaloo celebratory event at Sandown Browns Golf Course. I was there at 10 am as everyone was setting up their stalls with folk from:

  1. British Hedgehog Preservation Society. I don’t think people realise how numbers of British hedgehogs have plummeted in recent years. And when you see these creatures close up – youngster of 9 weeks was there later on in the day, a beautiful animal.
  2. Natural History and Archaeological Society – lots of interesting walks and talks
  3. Isle of Wight AONB – Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – missed their talk in afternoon as I was out walking
  4. Wild Walk Therapy – Noras Wild Walks. Lovely lady who did took folk down to the beach in the morning and into the marshes, in amongst the reed beds, in the afternoon. She works as an eco therapist – encouraging people to use the natural world around them to find greater peace.
  5. Wildheart Animal Sanctuary – wonderful photos of their tigers and other creatures.
  6. Ex Education Officer from Zoo  – Tracy Dove, Zoological Conservation Education. Another very interesting 07890 587757
  7. Poo Museum – this looked interesting!

The highlight for me was the talk on the White-Tailed Eagle by Steve from Forestry Commission. What was the chance that I was to have one fly right over my head the following day, on Culver Down? I think the Eagles are a bit like the dinosaurs in that they are an Island gem and well-kept secret. Fab to know they are both there.

The last talk was on The Iris Manifesto which focuses on Sandown’s future – its rejuvenation. Lots of messages of hope.

Day 3 October 11

A circular walk around Culver Cliff with Author and Historian, Tim Wander. 2,000 years of history from Prehistoric Tumuli to Palmerston Forts, Gun Batteries, D-Day Radio station and much more.

Start time: 11:00 am

Length: 2 miles

Duration: 2h

This guy knows his stuff! Very interesting. Felt I’d learnt a great deal by the end of it – lucky I had my notepad as information retention is a bit of an issue these days!

Day 4 October 12

Walk from Nettlecombe Farm – Stenbury Loop with Dave Fairlamb who knows everything there is to know about birds and fauna and flora generally. Amazing. And delivered in a friendly, accessible way. Loved this walk. And like yesterdays, very friendly fellow walkers.

Autumn is a wonderful season at Nettlecombe, bird migration is in full flow, butterflies are still on the wing, berries/fruits are ripening in hedgerows and wildflowers continue to bloom.

Start time: 9:30 am

Length: 6 miles

Duration: 4h 30m

Day 5 October 13

A day of ‘walk research’ for me – Dinosaurs in the morning with Oliver from the Dinosaur Museum at Brightstone. Fascinating and humbling – such a vast subject!

Then doing my Smugglers Walk (again) in prep for Sunday. Checking out conditions (that steep path at the end seemed way harder work than last time I did it – maybe because of the surplus layers I was carrying which I shed during the course of the walk due to summer-like conditions) and timing. This is always problematic for me as I tend to get talking to people along the way – today I met up with a lovely couple from my Saturday walk – I think they’re also doing the Lighthouse walk tomorrow. Was approaching Bugle Inn – offered to buy them a drink if they gave me a positive feedback!

I finished the walk within the 2-hour parameter that I’d set but hoping everyone prepared for flexibility on that as bit brisk otherwise – lesson – allow more time not less!

Day 6 October 14

Two Saintly Lighthouses Walk

Both moderately-paced and moderately graded, this circular walk on clifftops and beautiful downland takes in panoramic views to The Needles and the Dorset coast. We visit the medieval lighthouse high on St. Catherine’s Down and view the Victorian lighthouse at the tip of St. Catherine’s Point. The latter is fully operational but closed to visitors since 2019. The Walk Leader Francis Quinn was a Tour Guide there for many years.

Above copied from Festival website.

We were blessed with another fine day – lunch at Castle Haven Bay was sheer bliss in the sunshine! Francis did a wonderful job, delivering such interesting information at each point at which we stopped. A truly charming lovely person.

Day 7 Oct 15

Part of the Warrior Trail, from Mottistone

Many favourites walks return this year, including part of the Warrior Trail, which takes in the countryside where the original ‘War Horse’ named Warrior spent his days with his owner General Jack Seely, the walk will be led by the General’s descendent, Isle of Wight Member of Parliament, Bob Seely. A circular walk starts and finishes at the National Trust Car Park Mottistone Gardens.

Start time: 2:00 pm

Length: 3 miles

Duration: 1h 30m

Lots of interesting information and fine views – all credit to Bob Seely who’s phone was constantly alerting him to tragic events of the day re: the fatal stabbing of MP.

I took the opportunity afterwards, whilst in the vicinity, of visiting The Sun Inn at Hulverstone, as research for my Smuggler Inns walk – suffering for my art, again!

Day 8

Saturday Morning Brading Marshes Nature Walk – with Natural Links (Dave Fairlamb)

One of the best birdwatching sites on the Isle, with wildfowl and waders, herons and egrets, birds of prey and reedbed specialists as well as other natural splendours.

Start time: 9:30 am

Length: 6 miles

Duration: 4h 30m

Another highly enjoyable walk with Dave despite the downpour at the beginning! We saw two White-Tailed Eagles – which I think followed me up onto Culver Down in the afternoon when I saw them again whilst doing a ‘reccie’ for my walk on Tuesday.

Day 9

Sunday My Walk! Smuggler Inns Walk

A great circular walk from a stunning viewpoint to Niton (White Lion and Buddle Inn, via tunnels) and back along the coastal path, with the option to visit the Wight Mouse at the end!

Start time: 10:30 am

Length: 4 miles

Duration: 2h

Additional Information:
I wanted to do a walk that included some of the Island’s smuggling inns and this walk included two with an optional third at the end. It’s fairly easy terrain BUT with a steep climb back up onto the coastal path, on the way back. Depending on numbers we can call in at The White Lion – there is a beer garden; but having a drink at The Buddle pub will depend on good weather/being able to sit outside as there is no standing space available for drinking inside. At the end, we can either drive or walk the short road distance to The White Mouse Inn which can accommodate much larger numbers in and outside. I will tell you about the other smuggling inns on the Island – but I thought this area would provide us with some great walking too!

Above copied from Festival Walk site.

Had such amazing weather on this day! It was like the middle of summer! Lovely friendly group – and it was great fun meeting up with two other walk leaders – Francis from Lighthouse Walk; and Dave birdwatching with his group.

Nice to retire to White Mouse Inn for a drink at the end!

Day 10 Monday 18th

Brading Downs Pits and Paths

Stroll with Matthew Chatfield and discover why cutting down trees is good for wildlife, hear some of the histories of the chalk pits at Brading, walk in the footsteps of Roman farmers, and find the quick route down to the Roman Villa and back. Some steps and steep ground. Slippery in wet weather.

Led by Matthew Chatfield, President of the IW Natural History and Archaeological Society.

Start time: 1:00 pm

Length: 1.5 miles

Duration: 1h 30m

Brading Down is a nature reserve (used to belong to the Nunwell Estate). Its classic chalk downland, grazed by cattle and with car park fenced off at the top (before it wasn’t – why there are car wrecks to be found at the bottom!).

A new structure has appeared or rather an old one has been dug up – an old reservoir, a Victorian structure that houses a brick lined cylinder, feeding the water works, now sewage, further down.

3 quarries – Bullys over which we stood, Little Jane’s Quarry and Mums/Mins? Used til early 20th c.  The lime, dug out early 19th c,  was used for fertilizer on fields and lime mortar for building. Was taken to lime kilns, far end of Brading, and fired – then taken by railways to building works. Replaced by Portland cement, pits then only used for lime on fields, and quarries fell into disrepair.

Eagle spotting!

The rain held off thankfully until our return – and it was great exploring my backyard!

Day 11

My Walk! Yaverland to Culver Down Circular

This walk has a gentle climb at the beginning, stunning coastal views in both directions at the top towards Bembridge and Sandown plus an optional return along the beach (depending on conditions).

Start time: 10:30 am

Length: 4 miles

Duration: 2h

Pretty challenging walk today – sheer physical exertion of bracing winds up on Down along with trying not to let too many mental notes (local history etc) get blown away in the process!

Group of 30 reduced to 13 – a lot of no shows. But those who accompanied me were lovely – I do seem to have been very lucky with folk attending my walks – all very friendly and appreciative. Let me just say here, THANK YOU to you all – way more fun doing the walks with you, than by myself!

The rain did hold off and there was sunshine towards the end; and I’m pleased with the photos taken over Whitecliffe towards Bembridge; and over towards Sandown, in opposite directions. Both showed how great views are from the top, both ways – whatever the weather!

And that is now it for my contribution to the Walking Festival! What AM I going to do with myself?

I am participating in another couple of walks on Thursday and Friday – so I will report on those once I have done them.

Day 12 Day off (ish!)

I did a reccie on St Helens Walk which turned out to be absolutely beautiful – with added bonus of Great Egret close up and a great chat with ‘local’ gentleman – who gave me lots of local knowledge and nice alternative route on a path straight up to where the walk started – avoiding dreaded road walking.

This walk was rather more of a success than the one I did after the Friday walk which finished at 1 pm – seemed too early to return home so I did another walk (on top of 8 mile one) … as you do! This one was another hour walk up behind the village but, apart from boggy conditions I encountered, took me along the main road, which, unless you have a definite death wish, I would strongly recommend you do not undertake! One to strike off my list of possible walks, for sure!

Day 13 Queen Victoria’s historical  visitors

A walk following in the footsteps of the visitors who called on Queen Victoria when she lived at Osborne House. Your ‘Victorian’ guide will tell their stories.

Start time: 2:00 pm

Length: 1 miles

Duration: 1h 30m

Lovely guy who took walk – passionate local historian – but did have trouble with background traffic noise, being along main road.

Day 14 Brading Marshes and Culver Down

This walk starts and finishes at the National Trust’s Bembridge Windmill and takes in the RSPB nature reserve on Brading marshes, Culver Down, coastal paths and beautiful sea views.

Start time: 9:00 am

Length: 8 miles

Duration: 4h

Price: Free

Start (Circular walk):

Location: Bembridge Windmill, PO35 5SQ

Early start! But rewarded with lots of sunshine and, as with other walk, fab company – including lovely walk leader, Pauline.

So, that’s it! I can’t believe the festival has ended! I for one just want it to go on … forever!

It has proved a really valuable learning experience for me as a walk leader – I have a much better idea of what makes a great walk … having walked every day of the festival (almost) as either walk leader or participant.

I have LOVED it! And have met so many lovely people. I cannot say how much the experience has meant to me. Huge thanks to Sarah and Jo for organising it – they have answered every email promptly – and were wonderful support on my very first walk from Shanklin to Landslip and back. These girls do a magnificent job – a big three cheers for them both!

So, next festival in May – better get planning my walks. If the Festival ‘will have me again’ I plan to do a number of diverse walks – short, medium and long. And unlike this last one, I have just over 6 months to prepare!

Undoubtedly, some of the walks I will be doing in the meantime will be on that schedule – again, a huge thank you to the festival for making me realise just how much I love walking but most of all, how much I enjoy walking in the company of others!

5 thoughts on “Isle of Wight Walking Festival”

  1. We both had a great day on Sunday, really enjoyed the smugglers walk it was well organised, informative and fun. We particularly enjoyed the steep path up to the cliff top where we were rewarded with magnificent views and were treated to a peak of a seal and an osprey! Loved it
    Chris & Joy x

  2. I did ask the Isle of Wight Walking Festival organisers to rate how I performed at their event and I am happy to say it was as follows:

    Sue is a wonderful Walk Leader. She was great to work with during the Isle of Wight Walking Festival this summer and hosted three different – and interesting – walks for us.

    Sue is hugely engaging, fun and plans special and carefully thought-out routes, with the best views (…and the best pubs!). Walking with Sue is a lovely experience and a fantastic way to explore the Island – and discover some hidden gems.

    Sarah and Jo, Co Project Managers IWWF21

  3. First I was a visitor, then I started up a holiday let and as of 2021 I became a resident. So this year was my first year participating in the Isle of Wight Walking Festival and the hidden gem of the festival was Sue. Her walks showed me parts of the Island that I never knew existed, showed me the bountiful natural beauty of this Island and taught me about smugglers. Sue has shown me how much fun walking is and well I am now addicted. Therefore I would highly recommend Sue as as walking leader and I will be recommending her walks to my future guests.

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