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ISLE OF WIGHT 23rd – 25th June 2023

The weekend started with me turning up late for my own ride to Lymington. My TomTom then decided to keep trying to return me to the original starting point. Luckily, Adrian was able to take over and lead us to East Boldre from where I resumed leadership, taking the five bikes to the East End Arms (owned by the bass guitarist of Dire Straits!). With perfect weather and time available, we sat in the garden where the chef kindly opened the kitchen early for refreshments.
The next morning Garry picked us up and led us on an amazing trip around the Island. I don’t think there was a single scenic route that we didn’t cover. I am sure I will get the sequence of our tour wrong, but we first headed off up a narrow, steep hill to Ventnor Downs, the highest point on the Island (also known as St. Boniface Downs, apparently depending in which direction you’re looking!).  We would have stayed longer to admire the views but we were suddenly mobbed by cows who took exception to us disturbing their peace. We beat a hasty retreat.
New Forest, Lymington, and Isle of Wight
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Mist on The Military Road
Drop-off
Wild flower meadow
Much of our enjoyable ride was managed using the ‘drop-off’ system although, we still managed to lose Mike & Lesley and Richard at one point when I mistakenly thought all the bikes had passed and I left my post marking a left-hand turn at the Calbourne crossroads (sorry!). Luckily, we caught up with each other fairly quickly.
We then headed up to the fort at Culver Down and on to the Yarborough monument with its stunning views over the English Channel. 
Ambling back through the scenic roads of the centre of the Island, we eventually rode through the pretty village of Gurnard and on to Cowes. With all of its attractions, Cowes becomes extremely busy and hence, we didn’t stop there.
We eventually headed back to the Blackgang viewpoint, as the fog had lifted, but the view was still limited. We then stopped for a well-deserved late lunch at the Wight Mouse Inn in Chale.

Dinner was arranged at the Amici Italian restaurant in Shanklin which I can thoroughly recommend. They catered for eleven of us and the food was delicious.
    .
By Erica Body
The plan had been to head along the Military Road stopping at various viewpoints but unfortunately, the fog got there first. Although we couldn’t see the spectacular views across to the Island’s Jurassic Coast, the ride was still most enjoyable with the consolation of a delicious cup of coffee at the End of the Line café overlooking a beautiful wildflower meadow.
It was only a 10-minute ride to the ferry terminal from where we enjoyed a sunny crossing to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. Our ‘man on the island’, Garry Deadman, was waiting on the dockside to lead us on a scenic and traffic-free ride to our hotels.
Garry and Paulette Deadman kindly invited us over to their place for the evening and Paulette putting on an excellent spread accompanied by beer and wine. There was even frangipane tarte for dessert.
Leaving Ventnor
....  for Ventnor Down
Yarborough monument and Culver Down with views over the English Channel
View from Blackgang & White Mouse refreshment stop
On Sunday morning we had a late start meeting up with Garry and Paulette at the splendid Donkey sanctuary in Wroxall before heading over to the Ventnor Botanic Gardens for a barbecue.
Donkey friends
Saturday's descent of Ventnor Down
Some of our party returned on the Sunday afternoon ferry, with four staying over until the Monday. Thank you to Nick Baker, Trish Davies, Richard Evans, Mark & Jackie Hoskins, Adrian Oldfield and Mike & Lesley Smith for their company over the weekend and a huge thanks to Paulette for all of her hard work and to Garry for the amazing tour of the island. We rode 100 miles on the Saturday, which is no mean feat.
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