run the wight: st catherine’s down

hoyWithout a doubt an Island highlight. I never get bored with heading far down south to the steep climbs and lighthouses of St Catherine’s Down and around. It’s a regular run now, 12 kilometres of up, down and up and down again. Chale Green Stores is the perfect starting point (especially for any forgotten fuel needs) and it’s straight up to the Hoy monument from there, skirting fields of wildflowers and small copses, a gradually increasing gradient.

steepThe views up top are fantastic. Glance behind and the west Wight stretches out, topped off by the chalk cliffs rising in the distance. To the left, farmland sitting in the bowl of the downs, scattered sheep and smoke rising from chimneys. Ahead, the medieval lighthouse (known round these parts as the Pepper Pot) sits atop the crest of the down yet to be conquered.

downIt gets leg sapping steep at the top, but the reward is a swift descent through fields and an old lane to Niton, where further fuel can be found. Through the village and you’re soon out into the country again, this time joining the coastal path. It’s another climb, with glorious views over the scrambled landslip and St Catherine’s Lighthouse beyond and below.

above a lighthouseCliff running is always a joy to the soul, so it is a little sad to turn inland at Blackgang Chine and climb back up to the Pepper Pot. Solace is found in the fact that the last of the uphill is done, with only the gravity assisted return to the bottom ahead. The weather can get wild around these parts, but I’ve yet to adventure around here and not just have the best of times.

below a lighthouse


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