Tuesday 25th February dawned a bit grey and drizzly. Nevertheless we at The Fawley got up early(ish) to join a bus full of other accommodation providers for a trip to The Needles courtesy of Visit Isle of Wight's Travel Ambassadors and Southern Vectis.
We left the house as it began to rain and didn't have time to pick up our brollies. We walked quickly to Shanklin Bus Station (outside our big Co-op in Landguard Road) and arrived just as our open top bus was pulling round the corner. Mark, Anna and I initially opted to sit upstairs in the open section of the bus. Mark and I fairly swiftly deserted Anna and went to sit inside the top of the bus instead. Anna was left to brave the wind and drizzle and the numerous trees that attacked the bus as it passed. You'll notice in the photo that some foliage got stuck on the bus. Anna, I should hasten to add, was wearing a waterproof mac.
The bus conveyed us via Ventnor, Blackgang and the Military Road, which I think is the route of the Island Coaster. The scenery is pretty spectacular when viewed from a car; from the top of the bus it is amazing (unless you don't like heights...) We were glad to have moved inside the bus as it was pretty cold and we got to meet some other accommodation providers. Along the route the weather improved and at one point a small segment of a rainbow appeared.
The island is boasting lots of lovely daffodils at the moment - almost as cheering as rays of spring sunshine - so the journey was really pretty. The views over the sea (never sure if it's the Atlantic Ocean or just The Channel) were as magnificent as ever. The scenery on the Military Road never disappoints.
With the storms we have recently experienced in the UK there have been some striking photos of waves over-topping in various locations. Freshwater is one of those locations and although not as spectacular as the waves have been lately there was still quite a bit of activity to be seen. We didn't envy our driver on this section of the route as the roads are pretty narrow with some very tight bends. But he negotiated them with ease and got us safely to our destination at The Needles. The bus went straight on up into the Needles Battery, land owned by The National Trust. Up at the top of a torturous windy road sits the Old and New Batteries and the Rocket Testing site. We had the opportunity to get out of the bus and look over to The Needles if we wanted to. Back on the bus we began the descent back to The Needles Park where a buffet lunch was waiting. The cafe was warm and the hot drinks were most welcome! A change of plan followed for the journey home. Instead of being taken back to Ryde we headed back home on the reverse route that we had journeyed out on. This was no hardship as we got to see the amazing views once again. And to top it off for me, I saw a red squirrel - I just love them!
All in all it was a great day and our sincere thanks go to Visit Isle of Wight and Southern Vectis.