OFS Residential Visit to the Isle of Wight

29 May - 2 June 2009

Our visit to the Isle of Wight began on Friday, 29 May and, as usual for an OFS holiday, it was a lovely hot and sunny day. There were 40 in the group and everyone arrived in good time at Lymington for the scheduled IOW ferry to Yarmouth at 11.15 a.m. Unfortunately car space on the 11.15 a.m. was limited so some members of the group had to travel on a later ferry. Nevertheless, we all arrived at our respective hotels in good time to check in and prepare for our first day of walks.

The walk led by Sue Crisp enjoyed spectacular cliff top views along the path to Shanklin while John Eyre's group headed to Brading Down for an inland walk on the Nunwell Trail, sampling some delicious ice cream en route.

Evening briefing sessions and dinner took place at the Riviera Hotel where entertainment of live music was available each night and encouraged some fine singing and dancing, for those who still had the energy.

Saturday the heatwave continued. We had a choice of four activities - three walks and a full day's cycling. The eight intrepid cyclists led by Peter Ewart set off from Sandown on a route that took them through Newport and on to Cowes, largely on the recently completed traffic free Railway Path and through a marshland nature reserve - a return trip of 38 saddle sore miles, including one puncture. Lunch was at Carisbrooke Castle with time to enjoy the spectacular views from the castle walls and top of the keep.

The long walk started at Godshill, a picturesque, chocolate box village with old thatched cottages. The route went north along the Yar River Trail, passed by Carisbrooke Castle and returned via the Shepherds and Worsley Trails. A grassy field and shady tree was the venue for a picnic lunch and relief from the burning sun. Refreshed, the walk continued through open countryside and stunning flowery meadows. A memorable walk that stretched from 13.3 miles to 15.3 miles - there were no dancing feet that night!

On Sunday, a few of the exhausted walkers and cyclists from the previous day took the opportunity to relax and visit Osborne House and gardens followed by a dip in the sea at a small local beach. Serendaded by the song of the skylarks, those who chose to walk were not disappointed with the scenery, sea views and cloudless skies.

Monday, another tropical day. A good choice of walks available, coastal and inland, circular and linear, by train, bus or direct from hotel. Places visited included, Shanklin, Nunwell Trail, Culver Cliff, Bembridge Windmill, Yar River Trail, Tennyson Trail, Bowcombe Valley, Brightstone Forest, Compton Down, Freshwater Bay.

Tuesday, the last day of a lovely holiday. After breakfast we packed our cars and set off for Yarmouth / Newton Harbour for final walks led by John Eyre and Sue Crisp. An opportunity to enjoy the scenery and wildlife along the estuary, lunch, a final Isle of Wight ice cream, a stroll around Yarmouth and a paddle in the sea.

A Big Thank You to all the Committee Members, the Walk Leaders and to Everyone involved in organising such a memorable walking holiday. Can't wait for next year, same weather again, please. LONG LIVE OFS!!

Alison Broadbridge and RoseMary Barron