Holiday: Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight – Day 6

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That’ll do nicely!
Not a bad view to wake up to!

Today, we’re heading West along the coast road, taking in The Needles, English Heritage’s Yarmouth Castle together with the town of Yarmouth and finishing at National Trust’s Mottistone Gardens. Phew! 🥵🥵

9.15am/21°C: We decided to set off sharp today. Why? The weather forecast is promising a scorching 24°C by lunchtime, and it’s already 21°C. After enjoying one of the Pub’s legendary cooked breakfasts, we were pretty much set up for the day, and we don’t plan to stop for a sit-down lunch as we’d rather get back before it gets too hot!

9.50am/22°C: Things didn’t start well! 🙁 We followed the suggested postcode for National Trust’s ‘The Needles/Old Battery’ (that would take us to The Needles), but it didn’t. After a bit of faffing and mild cursing, we finally arrived…

The Wrong Needles!

…only it turned out to be the wrong Needles!! 🙁 But how could it be? We could see The Needles from where we were! We knew we must be close, but having just paid £6 for the parking, we weren’t about to exit the car-park in the ‘spirit of discovery’. As we quickly discovered we’d parked near what was a sort of ‘amusement-park-lite’ featuring plastic dinosaurs – called ‘The Needles’, so not exactly what we had in mind!! Still, it did give chance to grab a shot of real The Needles from a distance…

The Right Needles!

9.50am/22°C: A quick natter with one of the car park attendants and all was now clear! We just needed to walk towards the exit of the car park and we would see a National Trust sign leading in a completely different direction!

The Right Entrance!

10.05am/22°C: Success! Our walk began with renewed energy where the slight breeze from the sea made for a very pleasant experience!

The Needles

Don’t be fooled by the ‘No Cars’ sign on the National Trust’s signage above. On our walk, we were to see cars, vans and even a sightseeing bus using the road, that we thought was just for walkers. 😠

Heading in the right direction!

Our walk took in The Old Battery (closed because of COVID!) designed to guard the west end of the Solent (there’s also a NEW Battery, but strangely, nowhere to charge an EV!! 🤣). Being closed, there wasn’t much to see here, but at least we made it to The Needles! After a quick breather, we headed back in the direction of where we started. It had been a glorious walk and although hot, the breeze was a lifesaver.

Talking of ‘lifesavers’… – what a good idea!
Is it just me, or is this REALLY funny?

Next stop, Yarmouth and Yarmouth Castle. Oh, and a word to the wise: if you fancy a trip to The Needles, get there early. When we left at 11.05am, there was a mile-long queue to get in!

Yarmouth Castle

11.05am/24°C: You can’t say we don’t live dangerously. Here we are in Yarmouth with a timed ticked for 1.30pm at the Castle – and it’s only just gone 11am!!! Edgy stuff ehh! Would our charisma and other talents, get us inside before our allocated time! Ooo, the tension! 😁

We needn’t have worried – we were soon inside looking around. The Fort was originally one of Henry VIII’s defence strategies but has been modified on a number of occasions through the years.

There’s not much to see and we were in and out within 15 minutes. In its day, it was a crucial part of the defence landscape – and anyone who puts a cannon in their kitchen gets my vote! 😉

Just as we were leaving, we heard a familiar voice – it was our neighbours, David and Valerie (again!) Small world island ehh! 😁 Off to look round the town of Yarmouth…

Yarmouth Town

All in all, a very pretty town that’s also a Ferry Port – where it was clear there was wealth! It reminded us a little of Uppingham in Leicestershire. Our guess was that a lot of its custom comes via the Ferry passengers but the town had a real vibrancy about it today, even before the Ferry arrived.

12.25pm/24ºC: As forecast, the weather hit its promised maximum – and we were feeling it too! 🥵

Mottistone Gardens (National Trust)

Mottistone Manor

The Manor was closed – not, this time due to COVID, but because NT have ‘exciting new plans’ (but no hint of ‘when’). For us, that didn’t matter at all, because we were here for the GARDENS.

That’ll do nicely!

12.35pm/24°C: We were also here for some refreshment! Although the Pub’s breakfast was still keeping us going, a sweet treat and a drink became the order of the day, before venturing into the famous Gardens.

Mottistone is NT’s most southerly ‘dry’ garden and that presents extra challenges for both the Garden and the Gardeners! The layout and contents are not what you might expect, so if you’re green-fingered, prepare yourself for some surprises (in a good way!)

The Gardens were originally designed in the 1960s by Sir John Nicholson and his wife, Lady Vivien and in many ways, its all very UNconventional – unusual flower/plant combinations; very unregimented borders; plenty of wildflowers – but it all seemed to work very well, and we both felt it was the most impressive garden display we’d seen in a long time.

Not for the faint-hearted!

1.15pm/24°C: We’d covered a lot so far today, so we thought we’d cram in one final ‘attraction’ (I use the term in its broadest sense) before returning to the Pub. We’d spotted something called The Longstone that was literally ‘next door’ to the Gardens.

I have a funny feeling about this!

The Longstone is a megalithic monument – the only one on the Isle – and is said to date back over 6000 years. According to the signpost, it was only a mile away, so what could possibly go wrong? 🤔.

We followed the sign’s general direction and soon discovered that it was, in places, quite a steep climb. To add interest, it was also very (very) muddy! We followed the path where it forked in the road (there was only a choice of two) and realised later, after some real off-road manoeuvring on foot, it was the wrong one (thanks NT). Our only comfort was that another couple had followed us to pretty much a dead end. Oh, how we laughed! 🤐. We all struggled down the incline having spotted a larger path down below. We were soon back on track (literally), but a mile later, there was still no sign of the said stone.

We persevered, and it paid off! After some more mud.. and more steep inclines, we arrived!

The Stone

After all the challenges in actually locating the Stone, was it worth making the two-mile-and-a-bit effort to view this ancient artefact?

No, absolutely NOT! But it did make me wonder how the locals got it up there in the first place! 🤔

1.55pm/23°C: An action-packed day! It was now time to head back to the Pub for a lie-down!

6.00pm:/18°C: We ate again in the Pub tonight – and lighter than usual (their breakfast had lasted us all day!)

Tomorrow, it’s Newport, Carisbrooke Castle, The Garlic Farm and Brading Roman Villa.

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