We left Totland before dawn, headed done to the bay and followed the seawall around to Colwell. No one was around and the sun was just coming up as we took another alternate along the beach. We climbed the concrete slipway and made our way through the holiday village and into the woods around Fort Victoria. From here we followed our second solar system trail of the trip (The first was Bonchurch to Ventnor) and came out on the top of the island with fantastic blue sky and Yarmouth Pier just ahead. It felt a bit strange to be honest, usually Yarmouth means were just getting home on the ferry and the trip is over but this time we still had a long way to go.
We got some doughnuts for breakfast and sat on the benches by the green to eat them. It was 9 am. We wandered along the sea wall before nipping up and along the road for a little way before nipping into Bouldnor Forest and probably only the second stretch of this trail that we hadn’t hiked before. It was wonderful, with proper beaten earth trail being kind on our feet, tree cover for the kids to play their games while charging ahead and seeing just what happens when a forest meets the sea.
We broke out onto heath a while later and were surprised to see how far inland we had come but were soon plunged back into tree cover and then open fields as we reached Hamsptead. (which marks the start of another trail on our list). Here we decided to bypass a 2 mile loop which would bring us out about 1/4 mile down a gravel road led us away from the coast and as we crossed a little bridge we marked passing 70 miles on trail. Strange seeing as it’s only supposed to be a 68 mile trail. Back through tree’s passing close to Newtown Creek and into fields on the way to Shalfleet.
Shalfleet to home was a stretch that was worrying us as it appeared to be mainly on the road, we were pleased when the first section took us off the main road toward the quay and then across the creek to join the quieter back road a bit further along but we still had to negotiate a few miles of twisting, narrow country lanes. With nerves shredded and patience in tatters and feet on fire from the tarmac we stopped in Porchfield for a final treat in the pub before the last 3 or 4 miles home.
The Trail to Thorness Bay started on the road but soon diverted through some fields and into the holiday park. We garnered some funny looks from holiday makers as these 3 feral kids and there unwashed parents came through with big packs but we were quietly pleased with our “Hiker-Trash” appearance. Thorness Bay opened out in front of us as the sun started to dip and we hastened to get done before sunset. The kids knew the way home from here and with that mission in mind they practically sprinted the last mile and a half, Hazel and I struggling to keep up. Of course they paused at the rope swing, where we did catch them and we hiked the remaining yards to our starting point together. Looking at the GPS, we had hiked 18 1/2 miles on that last day, our furthest on any trail so far, AND we had hiked a grand total of 77.7 miles on this 68 mile trail.
As we strolled up the lane back to our home, we chatted about how far we had walked, how strange it felt to walk from our door and back to it 5 days later and we started to think about what we might do next?