Saturday 27th April, Isle of Wight recce Day 2

We awoke to overcast weather, but not too chilly. After a hearty breakfast (or maybe more likely a heart attack breakfast!), the trio headed north on the west side of the estuary towards Cowes using the old abandoned railway trackbed. All was fine until the outskirts of Cowes when abruptly the path ceased with no signage to anywhere, just houses and a bin alley behind.

At this point I improvised and followed my own knowledge of the old railway’s route until just before the old station site (now a supermarket) and headed for the chain ferry for East Cowes. The chain ferry was entertaining as we clanked our way across the estuary, and our next landmark target Whippingham Church.

After leaving the ferry there was a serious lack of Sustrans signage to Whippingham, and so there was a serious amount of stop, start OS map checking to get us there.

After this we headed on through the country lanes to a rendezvous with our support driver Bill at the Bluebell Cafe, Wootten. This cafe was hidden behind a tall wall with no signage on the road to say it existed, in a farm shop site called ‘Briddlesford Farm Shop’. After riding past about a half mile I began to realise the possible error, which was confirmed soon after as Bill had seen us ride straight pass the location. A busy cafe where things didn’t happen very quickly.

After tea we backtracked west to pick up the old railway line to Newport and then south to Sandown on the south coast of the island. A mixture of surfaced, gravel and muddy paths encountered on railway path leg as we pushed ever south, with me looking forward to visiting my childhood holiday area once again. Alas after covering eight of the ten miles to Sandown we were thwarted by Mother Nature. We got to one bridge crossing that was not more than three feet above a river to find an elderly, club riding couple emptying water from their cycling shoes and wringing out their socks. They informed us that the railway path ahead was flooded thigh deep and that they’d had to carry their bikes above their heads and wade through!

This unfortunately scuppered our attempt to loop Newport, Sandown, Shanklin, Wroxhall and back to Newport. History was still very much alive regarding the flooding of this line from the time it was built even to the present day. We contacted Bill and told of our predicament, and our decision to back track to a cyclists cafe called ‘Peddlers’, about a mile back. A little while later Bill joined us for lunch and photo opps.

Like herding cats!

And so the trio retraced their steps back to Newport arriving back at the digs around 16:00hrs. In the last mile or so a few spots of rain had started, but the radar showed clearly that it was going to be more than just a few spots that evening.

All plans to go into town were abandoned for the evening, opting instead for a 50M sprint to the Beefeater next door for food and a couple of drinks. A good days riding, and fun was had by all in the evening.

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