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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
18th August to 21st August 2006
The Isle-of-Wight

A long weekend away was called for so we chose the Isle-of-Wight. As a motorcycling venue, the roads are twisty and exciting, although the tarmac is in serious need of replacement. There have been so many patches and repairs done over the years that the ride is really bumpy and uneven. There are cambers that throw you all over the place and sunken patches that test your suspension. If the roads were completely renovated then the island could become another Isle-of-Man.

We travelled to Lymington in the New Forest to catch the ferry rather than from Portsmouth. The journey there was longer but the views from Lymington were much better than Portsmouth. Even though the forecast was terrible, we got there safe and dry.

The crossing takes about 20 minutes and luckily the sea was very calm.

We camped in the southwest of the island within sight of the Needles. It was quite windy there and the locals say that all that keeps out the wind coming from France is a barbed wire fence.

Straight after setting up camp we walked the 2 1/2 miles to the nearest shop in a little village called Brighstone. All of the footpaths (of which there are many) are really well marked.

The walk took us along the cliff tops that are undergoing serious erosion.

We found this cool bench in the shape of a whale. The name of the place was Whale Chine.

After our walk and after a bit of exploring on the bike we ended up at the small town of Ventnor drinking cider in a bar called the Spyglass, right on the edge of the sea.

The next day we braved a severe downpour to get to Parkhurst Forest where we were hoping to find red squirrels.

This new hide built in the forest for viewing squirrels did not help us to see any. We did meet this lady there though, she came from Crawley too! Small world innit.

Unfortunately this was the only squirrel we saw!

The place was teeming with other forms of life though. This is a male Red-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lapidarius) sitting on a Harebell.

This is a female White-Tailed Bumblebee (Bombus lucorum)

The Common Field Grasshopper (Chorthippus brunneus)

One of the highlights of the holiday for me was finding this slime mould (sad aint I). These are really fascinating organisms though. They exist as separate fungal cells but can accumulate into large masses (as above) and then move up to several feet in a day to a better spot where they produce their fruiting bodies. This movement has caused science problems in classifying slime moulds. Are they plants or are they animals? As they can all gather together and move as one entity, are they intelligent?

How about this for gorgeous then? A wasp Spider (Argiope bruennichi). This species has only recently colonised Britain and is only found in the south of England. They normally live in the Mediterranean. It is very rare as well as being a very exotic creature.

We also went to the I.O.W Garlic Festival at Newchurch. There was not as much garlic orientated entertainment as we had hoped for. It was really just a large carnival.

We did see this garlic fan though, as well as having live music from Chas & Dave.

I found some really good cider and a really comfy haystack to sit on. I could have stayed there all weekend.

We took a walk across the Downs and also searched Brighstone Forest for the elusive squirrels. Not a glimpse of them though.

On the last day we stopped at a beautiful little village called Bonchurch and took a look at it's tiny church. It was rebuilt in 1070 AD although the original dated from around 900 AD.

Monday afternoon saw us leaving the island. The fact that we didn't see any red squirrels this time means that we will have to return again soon. Next time we will stay on the North of the island where it is less windy. In all, we really enjoyed our stay, it was just a pity that the weather was not kinder to us.