We’re in the midst of Isle Walk on the island at the moment, organised walks of various lengths and subjects, shooting out in all directions across our green and pleasant land. Sunday was the centrepiece of the festivities of our great outdoors, Walk the Wight, with pushing on for 5 figures worth of people and canines traversing the length of the Wight, from Bembridge out east to Alum Bay far to the west, all in support of the excellent, vital Earl Mountbatten Hospice.
This was the first year since moving from the south coast to the island when I haven’t completed this marathon walk. I missed it, especially as we were out west for the weekend, and could see the crocodile of yellow shirts, gore-tex and walking poles shuffling along and stretching out across the downs, happy walkers (perhaps some suffering) approaching the final stages of their efforts. Next year I’ll be back, I’m sure.
What a day for it they had though! The prevailing north easterly must have made the final push more of a challenge, but the sun was out, filtered through high level sea fog, warmth matching the wind to create a beautiful late spring day to be striding out across the downs.
One of the greatest pleasure of staying out west is the countryside literally at our doorstep. The opportunity to get into nature and tire out the dog without getting in the van is too good to miss, so we packed the bags with bottles of water and headed out the door. Knowing an area well brings the benefit of without the need for plan or map. The numerous footpaths and bridleways, common land and permissive access allow for a wander without focus or direction, letting the landscape speak to you; which way feels the most interesting or intriguing?
This lackadaisical approach to route planning led us through country lanes, up and over the downs (bisecting the WtW route twice) onto the top of tumuli, under the canopy of the woods, across the scrub and prickle of the commons, tentatively down a overgrown nettle path and finishing with a lovely chunk of the coast path. All the beauty in such a small space, how lucky we are. When you run a lot, it’s easy to forget the simple, slow joys of a Sunday stroll, the small details so easily missed in the hustle of the everyday. Only a few days and we’ll be there again.