A Travellerspoint blog

Day 14 - In Cowes, West to The Needles

More bus adventures around the island!

semi-overcast 12 °C
View Cotswold Way, England on Laura Walking's travel map.

I listened to the wind and rain last night for probably less than five minutes and then, I assume, was lulled to sleep by it. Today appeared to be sunny when I woke up, but there were ominous-looking clouds lurking around… just to make sure we didn’t forget them!

First thing after breakfast this morning, I gathered the things I wanted to wash and found the laundromat. When I got there, just a few blocks from the Inn, the door was open, so I went in. I saw that the machines took coins and how much they were, and soap and so on… so I traipsed back to a “Poundstore” (a dollar store!) and bought a couple of things so I could get some change. The clerk was very kind to have given me so many pound coins. Back I went to the laundromat and this time the door was propped open and the proprietress was there. She was a lovely woman (I don’t remember her name), and helped me with the washing machines and then the dryers, all digital! We chatted along the way… she’s been to Canada a couple of times, many years ago: Toronto and Niagara Falls; and on a different trip, to Vancouver Island. Inland a bit, to Jasper, and said they flew home from Calgary that time. She was very nice and very helpful, and then had to leave at a certain point. It’s really nice to have a few clean things to wear now!

I went back to the Inn to deposit my “almost dry” clothes… and have a bite to eat. Then at 12:30, still a bit overcast, but not raining, I decided to go to the west part of the Isle of Wight to see The Needles. If you Google that… it should show you a picture of a beautiful lighthouse way out on several small rocky outcrops of island. In the summertime a boat trip out to see it close-up would be the thing to do, but those boat trips have shut down for the season at this point. As I got on the bus this time, to Newport… everything goes through there… I bought a Rover pass for two days. Each trip to Newport, and back to Cowes and wherever else I want to go costs at least 4 pounds minimum - so now I have an unlimited pass for 48 hours. It expires on Friday, when I will be leaving the IOW anyway. So I have tomorrow to roam as well!

Oh, I must correct myself again… the bus ride from Cowes to Newport is only 30 minutes or so. Yesterday I said it was over an hour! I think it just seemed that way! As I am getting more familiar with the route and the visual landmarks, it is going by more quickly!

We got to Newport in good time, and the bus I was looking for was not at the station, but an alternate bus, going to the same destination, was. And this bus #12, turned out to be taking a more scenic route, along the south coast west to Alum Bay, and The Needles. It seemed to take ages to get there. The wind was picking up tremendously, and the skies were more fierce-looking than ever! Along those teeny tiny, narrow little roads the bus wove it’s way west… it’s a wonder there aren’t more accidents. The Needles area seems like a huge tourist place, and in fact on the pamphlet says, “Landmark Attraction”. There’s a Carousel, a Mini-Golf Course with 11 holes - with a Jurassic Dinosaur theme; what looked like a Bumper Car ride, and a spectacular Chair Lift ride right down over this very high cliff to a dock way down on the beach… and back up again. Of course, this being the end of the season, all of these things were closed and deserted. I walked alone down the midway lined with ice cream shops and ticket booths and craft shops all boarded up along both sides. At the end of this walkway, there was a grassy area and a fence… to prevent one from falling over a cliff down to the raging ocean (English Channel) below… but through which I could see The Needles lighthouse. It was far away, and very windy, and through a fence, but I did get to see it with my own eyes! And took shaky blurry pictures too!

Back at the other end of the midway, the large cafe and restaurant was open, and a large hiking group (perhaps 20 people) who had walked up a very steep and windy hill to the Needles Old Battery, and then back down, entered chatting about it. They looked cold and worn out! The Needles Old Battery, I believe, is/was a Victorian Fort, and because of its location high on a cliff, overlooking the English Channel, was a strategic defence location, much before, and then during WWI and WWII. I didn’t climb that hill! Once back in the cafe after walking back from picture-taking, I had a cup of coffee to warm up, and waited for the bus to take me back to Newport. There was a gift shop open as well, and I browsed in there too. I knew ahead of time that most of the attraction would be closed, but I just wanted to see what, if anything, there might be to see - and so I did!

As I sit here in my room at the Inn, much later (10:30 pm), the wind has been howling for several hours… and the rain is once again pelting against my window. In fact it’s so loud I think the window may be open! I will check in a minute!

I had grand plans for my last full day here, tomorrow. One was to go to Carisbrooke Castle, which I saw a glimpse of from the bus this afternoon on the way to Alum Bay. The woman sitting behind me, was giving me a bit of a running commentary with a history lesson thrown in… which I really appreciated! She said that the Castle is not to be missed. When I got back here and Googled the hours and so on, apparently now, in the “Winter season”, it is only open on the weekends, so I’ve missed out on that. And so then I thought I would go and check out Osborne House - one of the homes of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, where they brought their nine children to summer here on IOW. When I looked for information about it, it said that they are closed until November 9th for their annual break after the busy summer season! And that they would be opening for limited days after that! Just my luck! There is still a Steam Railway Exhibit and train to ride somewhere… that is my last hope for something interesting to see and do that was on my “list”. I will look into that tonight. So just a moment ago I looked up the IOW Steam Railway and would you believe it, their last day of operation until the Christmas Holiday season was today! So I seem to have missed out on that as well! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll find something to do!

However… with tomorrow’s 100% chance of rain - which may have already started - I have seen quite a bit, and may just walk to the floating bridge which connects pedestrians in Cowes to East Cowes, on the other side of the canal/ or waterway. East Cowes is where the Car ferry docks. I will get the proper names of these things/ places tomorrow!

Also, just for curiosity’s sake, I wanted to check and see just how much of the Cotswold Way path I did in fact walk. These statistics magically appear (via Bluetooth), on my phone every night, so I can see what I’ve done. Of the 163 km (102 mile) walk, I walked 100 km. Certainly not all of it, and not every day, but I guess I’ll have to be satisfied with that. Fortunately my right knee, which was painful this summer (before I left Canada), seems to be almost fine now. I’m still wearing the brace, but I am not really bothered by it anymore. And the left knee, that I injured when I fell down on the street in Painswick, is also healing nicely. The lovely multi-coloured bruise is fading, as is the bruise on my chest where I landed on my camera! So all is well health-wise, which I’m very thankful about.

Posted by Laura Walking 09:48 Archived in England

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