On Friday someone at work asked what I was up to on the weekend and it suddenly dawned on me that I had absolutely no plans. I had wanted to go on a little microadventure for a while and what a perfect opportunity to go on one! My first idea was to run to Paris but as it was already midday and I hadn’t packed any running kit and wasn’t sure that I could get the afternoon off work, run 50 miles to Brighton and make the 11pm ferry…I carried on thinking. I kept looking at my map and was trying to decide what to do when the Isle of Wight jumped out at me. I did a quick search as to the distance around the island, 70 Miles, perfect I could easily do that over a weekend. I booked a ferry went home and packed my bag for the weekends adventure.
Kit: In my 20 Litre Salomon Trail Backpack I had: Flip Flops, Snacks, Body Glide (essential), Bikini (not essential), Running Tights, Thermal Top, Survival Blanket, Head Torch, Buff, Gloves, Waterproof Jacket, Sleeping Bag, Bivvy Bag, Thermarest, Travel Towel, Suntan Lotion, Purse, Phone, Phone Charger, Watch Charger. On me; Socks, T-Shirt, Shorts, Sports Bra, Garmin 235, Running Shoes and Sunnies. 6.7kg!
Saturday morning arrived and I had an extremely well thought out plan; follow the coastal path, run 35 miles each day, sleep in a filed. Sounds pretty robust to me…what could possibly go wrong?!
My little adventure started in Cowes and as I took my first two steps the heavens opened and it started to pour down, perfect just what I wanted less than 1 mile into a 70 mile run. Luckily it wasn’t that cold and I was full of beans to get my adventure underway.
After about 90 mins the rain disappeared and a glimmer of sunshine started to appear…it wouldn’t last long. The first 18 miles of the run weaved along country roads, across marshland and through a field with a bull in it…luckily I out smarted him or this story would end here!
After 3 hours of running it was time for lunch hurrah! I stumbled across an awesome café called ‘Off the rails’ in Yarmouth. They had converted an old railway station on a disused rail track into a restaurant and it was delightful. I went for the burger in a charcoal bun (it worked) with paprika chips and coleslaw. I enjoyed watching people come and go for an hour or so, eventually it was time for me to get on my way again. Turns out that shoving a burger down your throat and then trying to run straight away would not be one of the best ideas I ever had…anyway I was off to the needles!
As I made my way to the needles the wind started to pick up and the fog started to close in, I wondered if would even see them. I arrived at the National Trust sight and made a quick dash to the edge of the cliff, luckily the fog hadn’t rolled in all the way and I got to see the little beauties. Right onward I go. I headed south along the west coast of the island as I tried to find my way through the fog the beautiful cliff edges began to appear.
I had nearly reached the magical 35 mile point so had a little search for places to eat and sleep, there was a country pub down the road but it was another 4 miles away, urgh! I dragged my ass along the final few miles until eventually I saw the pub gleaming in the background. I was acutely aware that I was very sweaty and probably didn’t smell great so I decided to have a quick water bottle shower in a field, it’s a thing. I just had to hope that no-one stumbled across me as I was stark naked in a field. ‘Clean’ and in nice fresh clothes I headed to the pub! As I walked up to the bar the guy behind the counter asked if I had booked a room to which I replied no I was just here for some food and that I was going to sleep in a field. He looked at me as if I was on crack, he probably had a point! He asked what I was up to and I told him that I was running around the island. With a dead straight face be just replied, ‘You do know there is a bus that goes around it’? FYI this is what it looks like if you ever want to take it:
The sun was starting to set so I packed up my things and headed out to find somewhere to sleep for the night. I wanted to sleep on the beach but as there was a 30ft sheer drop to the beach and you could see where the cliff kept falling away I decided that wouldn’t be a great idea. I carried on wondering down the road until I found a little house, some may call it a bus stop, I call it fate. I set up camp in there and prepared myself for a blissful night of sleep!
I woke up at about 6am, although I had been waking up every couple of hours because I thought I was going to get attacked by a wolf…I didn’t! Time to get started with day 2 and what better way to do it than with a skinny dip in the sea! I timed this perfectly and just as I was wrapping my towel around myself a fishing boat rocked up. Phew.
On to Ventor for breakfast, I found a little café called ‘Cantina’ that was run by a German chef. It was a great little find, I had eggs and soldiers, extra toast and jam and a couple of cups of tea all for £9, it is great to get out of London!
My trip along the coastal path, running on beaches, through seaside towns and through fields continued. Over another style and to what seemed like just another field until I spied two white horses standing in front of the gate I needed to go through. My immediate thoughts were great I am allergic to horses and how on earth am I going to get past them? As I walked towards the horses one of them started to walk towards me lets call him Jeff. I started to walk backwards Jeff followed me, I went left around the water trough Jeff went right I tried to run up the hill Jeff was quicker, ARGH, how was I going to get around this maniac? Jeff was getting pretty playful and I was hoping I wouldn’t get kicked. I suddenly saw a fence out of the corner of my eye leading to the adjacent field, perfect I will squeeze through that and find another way around! I quickly make a dash for the fence, got halfway through the bloody thing when I get jammed between the two planks of wood because I have forgotten a vital piece of information…I have a backpack on! I am now well and truly stuck between two planks of wood. Jeff takes this as the perfect opportunity to start head-butting and licking me…gross. Finally I wriggle my way to freedom and dart off into the distance. Laters Jeff!
Word on the trail is that there is a monastery that does great cake about 15 miles away. Perfect! The final 5 miles was quite a struggle as I had breakfast at 9am, it was now 2pm and I had covered 25 miles already, needless to say I was a tad hungry. The monastery suddenly appeared through the woods. It was a beautiful building where the monks grew their own fruit and veg and baked the cakes for the teashop, what a life! I went for a huge slice of Victoria Sponge and ate it whilst the Abbeys chickens milled around my feet. Cake consumed I only had 5 miles to go to get back to Cowes.
3 miles left to go I had a quick look at the ferry times and saw that there was a ferry in 40 minutes, could I make it… I didn’t look at my watch but shuffled as quickly as I could until I reached the port. I got to there with 4 minutes to spare, now that is good timing!
As the ferry started to head back to Southampton I watched the Isle of Wight disappear into the distance. Hurrah! 70 miles, 2 days, 1 island, 1 horse attack, 1 T-Rex, 3 Swings, 1 Burger and 3 Llama’s later and I had finished!
One island down…which one will be next?