after another good breakfast at northcourt manor, we are waiting at the bus stop right outside northcourt for the number 7 bus to freshwater bay. during the night we had fog moving in again and it has not really lifted so far. we are hopeful that it might have been blown away at the western part of the island: our goal for today is to walk from freshwater bay across tennyson down to the needles old battery at the western most part of the island — today is the 1940s theme day at the battery, which i'm rather interested in.
the bus is pretty much on time, while boarding i notice that we have the slightly speed crazy bus driver from yesterday — sigh. and, sure enough, we are not even properly seated and already the race is on! we reach brighstone in record time — and spend over 5 minutes idling in front of the village store (our race driver, err, bus driver gets out and checks the posted timetable, shakes his head, comes back in and continues waiting) — once the second round has been rung in, it's "pedal to the metal" again, though we are a bit encumbered by those pesky 30mph signs posted all over brighstone (clearly, those need to go if we ever want to have an efficient bus service), and it's not until we hit the military road that we really do get the pedal to the metal — we arrive in freshwater bay with an advantage of at least 10 minutes!
luckily (i'm not too fazed by double-decker-pot-hole-jumping-at-high-speed) we get off here. looking up towards tennyson down is not too promising fog-wise: if anything it seems to be thicker there than back at shorwell…oh, well. off we go.
not only is the fog thicker, there's also a rather strong breeze coming in from the SW, chasing the fog across the down, creating some rather interesting fog constellations! the higher we climb the stiffer the breeze gets — but it really seems to come into full force once we pass tennyson's memorial. we are now being fog-blasted! luckily our wind-stopper jackets do their jobs . at times we can only see 2–3m ahead of us (and i'm glad that the path is apparent on the ground: somewhere to the left are the cliffs, with, in places, sheer drops down to the sea). when we reach the end of the path we are glad about the arrows someone has chalked onto the tarmac and we find our way to the old battery — and are greeted by a home front soldier in full gear! we try and not let on that we actually are from the country he is supposed to be protecting the battery from and sneak in with our NT membership pass…
a pot of tea for two, a dig for victory soup, an isle-of-wight lemonade, another pot of tea, and a victory sponge later we make our way to the D-day exhibition and then to a rather captivating (they got us in the end) talk by the WVS lady about war time rationing.
meanwhile, the strong breeze has turned into near gale force winds (according to the anemometer in the lighthouse café) and we are a bit wary about continuing on the coastal path to yarmouth…we give the first part from alum bay across headon hill a try and decide — with the wind still blowing in near gale force strength and the fog still staying with us, providing for some rather limited views — to call it a day at totland church. the next number 7 bus to yarmouth is scheduled to arrive at 14:55 and we spend the remaining 18 minutes by having a look at the church (closed and armed with a security system) and a couple of snails having an outing at the covered entrance to the church yard. at 14:50 we queue at the bus stop (i stand first, dorothee is second making good use of the wind cover i provide) and wait for the number 7. a couple of cars wizz by, another one, and another one — this one, though, honks at us! it's my colleague rob who lives on the island and is back with his family from a walk on tennyson down! quite a surprise when told that we are indeed waiting for the bus to get us back to shorwell, they offer us a lift — which we accept and are quickly whisked back to northcourt. sweet