10. Bembridge (St Helen’s) to Ryde - The final leg
A grey start to the day with the sun due to appear later, we set out on our very familiar routine to complete the IOW Coastal Path. We were anticipating a celebratory ice cream at the end, but what was this? A band of pipers clad in ?? tartan to send us off at Portsmouth? Thankfully they were practising on the chanters only! We subsequently found that they were heading to the Island Highland Gathering at the Brading Roman Villa. Today's schedule enabled coffee on arrival, then a half hour bus ride to St Helens. Today was going to be an easy walk, what could possibly go wrong?
In the absence of any clear signposts we then followed the path along the coast which turned out to not to be the best idea. After crossing a beach we came to rocks which we could not get over or round, so we had to go up. "Up" turned out to be a path which was probably the most gruelling so far with mud, dense undergrowth, tree roots and giant steps. We met another brave couple who advised us that we were on the old Coastal Path which had been closed several years before, marvellous! It was slow progress for about a mile, concluding with several flights of ladder stairs, but we were down on Priory Bay's wonderful sandy beach.
We started walking at St Helens across an isthmus where a "should have gone to Specsavers" moment occurred when AP mistakenly identified a cesspit truck as the coastal breezer bus (well it was bright blue!).
Home of the fairies!
So, were we nearly at Seaview? Almost, there was just the small matter of another stack of rocks to get round, and the tide was coming in. Shoes off, trousers rolled up, trying not to think of jellyfish and other nasties into the sea we went…..it was warm…..and clear! We dried off and continued to the Old Fort at Seaview where we demolished crab sandwiches and chips (we didn't know that the sandwiches already came with chips, plus a swarm of pollen beetles).
So now, it was an easy walk, just 3 miles to the end of the pier, stopping for ice cream of course. The tide was in and the weather was perfect, what a glorious end to our challenge.