The Story

Derek and the girls Leaving on the first day Start of Day Three Start of Final Day Start of the Second Day Who did we travel with?
Isle of Wight Coastal Path. Sunday April 10th to Saturday 16th 2011

46 people – including three non walkers. 70 miles over four days.

Walks planner – NORMAN THOMAS Trip organiser – JOHN BULLEN

Deputy Leaders – Jeff Parr (Thursday) and Dave and Alma Walsh (Friday)

Participants -

East Lancs – Jacqui & Ken Beevers, John Bullen, Steve Clark & Sue Boardman, Viv Lee, Jean Lyons, Ann Oliver & Kathy Page, John & Edith Pickton, Ruth Redmayne & Mary Robinson, June Reeder, Chas & Hilary Scott, Kim Shaw, Neil & Howard Smith, Norman & Betty Thomas, Paul & Alison Wadsworth, David & Alma Walsh

West Lancs - Paul Banks, Ken Little, Jeff & Enid Parr, Doreen Viney & Gareth Seal, Karen & Ian Wardle

South Manchester - John Barker & Rosie Nelstrop

East Yorkshire - Ann & Stephen Bell

West Yorkshire - Judi Webster

Guests - Steve Baines & Carol Woodend, Amanda Cramond, Margaret Tomlinson & Audrey Booth

“Is it a walk or an invasion?” we were asked by one “islander” who stood aside at a gate to let our party through. It must have seemed that way as our group was never less than forty strong. Pre-trip worries about how we would cope “on the hoof” with so many people proved unfounded as keeping together as a group worked well all week. There were one or two blips but Norman’s idea of appointing seven unknown minders to look after Little Ann worked a treat! As did the threat of a yellow or red card being brandished in your face for just the slightest misdemeanour.

Sunday morning saw people being picked up at various locations and transported to the meeting place of Burtonwood Services near Warrington. Here nigh on thirty Alfatravel vehicles were lined up and our suitcases seemed to magically find their way on to our appointed coach. A whisper travelled along the ranks as we set off, “Oh no our driver is a Wiganer!” It proved not to be a problem as Derek was a gem on this is very first trip as an Alfa employee – what a debut!

We were at Portsmouth before we knew it, Derek having scheduled in two stops on the way down. The ferry across was a treat and then a short journey across the island saw us at Sandown and our seafront hotel, the Bayshore.

Norman had stressed that a prompt start was the order of the day so we were down at 7.45am for breakfast. The waiting on staff seemed in fear of leading lady Attila the Hun but we all had a soft spot for April before the week was out.

Monday - Day 1 – 19 miles – sunny with a slight breeze and the temperature slowly rising - Sandown, Shanklyn, Ventnor and St Catherine’s Point to finish at the pearl factory at Brighstone. A great start and the perfect finishing point with a lovely café and they certainly welcomed walkers.

Tuesday – Day 2 – 16 miles – lovely warm sunny day - Compton and Freshwater Bays, The Needles and Totland into Yarmouth. You would be hard pressed to find a better day’s walk anywhere than this. The steady climb up the white cliffs of Tennyson Downs to overlook The Needles and the Old Battery with superb views across to the mainland was stunning.

Wednesday was a day off for people to do the holiday thing and see the island. Some went off to Osborne House but fell foul of roadworks on the way back. Steve and Carole, Steve and Sue put us all to shame by going off to the gym! It was rather cold early on but light rain cleared for a warm afternoon.

Thursday – Day 3 – 17 miles – a bit chilly early on but gradually improving - Yarmouth through Newtown, Thorness Bay and into Cowes. For better access for the coach Derek had suggested us adding a little extra on to the scheduled route to finish in the grounds of Osborne House. This proved to be a great idea. As we approached the coach we spotted our first red squirrel.

Friday – Day 4 - 20 miles – a beautiful day, real ice cream weather - East Cowes, Ryde, Nettlestone Point, Bembridge, Foreland, St Helens, Culver Cliff and into Sandown. All you could hear all day was laughter. Norman mysteriously found five large pebbles in his rucksack!!! A yellow card for Kim and Kathy. The highlight of the day was meeting up with 93 year old St Helens resident Christine Lipscomb who has been a member of the LDWA for nearly thirty years. What a lovely lady. We could have listened to her tales all day long.

At the end it was handshakes and hugs all round. 70 miles completed and only a few blisters but no one complaining. The evening saw certificates and badges presented to all by John and Norman and a last little surprise – an invite to next year’s adventure holiday and a lottery ticket! Sadly the deal for someone to win over a million and pay for everyone’s trip never came to fruition. Perhaps we had used all our luck up on the weather and the girls winning the bingo every night!

Just to finish on a personal note. I would like to thank Alfatravel and especially Gayle Marks and Emma Walton for making this such a dream come true. (Gayle how I shall miss our daily phone calls!)

And to everyone on the trip for being absolutely brilliant!

All aboard the ferry Along the Esplanade Beach walking near Bembridge Crossing a Chine Crossing the Dever Descending to Sandown Finishing at Yarmouth Leafy Lane Lunch on the steps Meeting Christine