Passage 47, Hamble to Cowes
Up at 6am, away by 7am, in Cowes by 9am, on bike by 10am. That’s how I like my mornings to start!
Then the real work began. But before we go into that it’s worth noting that it was a tiddly little trip across the Solent from the Hamble river to Cowes. Very light winds so another gentle waft. Being wary, of course, of the fact that this was crossing one of the busiest commercial shipping areas on the planet. Forget power gives way to sail. The local laws here make it clear that all commercial shipping has priority over pleasure boats. Besides, you don’t want to pick an argument with a supertanker. As it turned out I only had the IoW ferries to deal with; no big ships (disappointingly).
The day’s agenda was to cycle the length and breadth of the IoW. So off I popped in an anti-clockwise direction. First up was Yarmouth towards the western end of the island. A quick review of the town and marina revealed nothing remarkable so onward to the Needles. They’ve made the Needles into a tourist “feature” with all sorts of superfluous entertainments to justify the fee that you pretty much have to pay to go take in the view. I didn’t pay as, despite all the notices suggesting you should, it’s a public right of way. So there.
I cycled up to the view points and then started back down the south side of the Island, though this necessitated a few miles of cycling on grassy bits at the top of the cliffs - which was fun. Once into Freshwater bay I reverted to the roads and continued to Niton which marked the half way point. By now it was 2pm and I needed a pitstop. I found a nice road side travelling cafe and ordered a cappuccino with a bacon roll. Chef took ages lovingly cooking my bacon and when it was finally delivered, it went down a treat. Thus fortified I continued on my way all the while enjoying the countryside and the cliff top views. I passed through the joined up towns of Shanklin and Sandown (never saw their beach front) and onward into Bembridge which hosts a nice harbour with lots of boats in it.
50 miles on the clock and it was coming up to 4pm. Onward through St Helens where I stopped to admire a church (one of many actually). This one was open and I went in and immediately immersed myself into it’s glorious atmosphere. Dark, lovely churchy smell with beautiful stained glass windows. Golly, it’s no wonder people feel in the presence of God in such places. I sat down and drank it all in. When I came back out into the day light I chatted to a couple who were feverishly trying to spruce up the surrounding grave yard in readiness for an impending wedding. They had a big job as it was pretty universally overgrown. Quite in contrast to the immaculate graveyard surrounding the somewhat larger (but closed) St Mildreds Church, Whippingham that I visited a few miles further along.
Pushing onward (getting tired now) through Ryde which looked a nice seaside town sporting a tidy little beach and big old pier. Then on the homeward stretch back to Cowes where I had to take the chain ferry across the Medina river to get back to Shepards Wharf Marina on the west side where the boat was.
Phew. 66 miles in total. Back by 6pm. Rest, coffee, shower and dinner. Job done. High five.
An early morning 7 mile trip across the Solent taking 1 3/4 hours in light winds allowing the rest of the day for a circumnavigation of the Isle of White - by bike.