Walk this Way!

So, my love of being outside is not just limited to running 4 or 5 times a week, I also love to do a fair bit of walking with a group of friends.
Once a week we will meet up and have a good old catch up whilst walking out and about for a couple of hours.  We are really lucky to have a great variety of places to walk on our doorstep; ranging from walking down to the sea, to up a fair few hills, to wandering along the shore line discovering fairy trees (yes, really) to getting lost in the woods and appearing at the 8th hole of a local golf club!
Walking, power walking if you want to call it that is a real team thing. I love how we fall into step with each other without really thinking about it and we are all evenly matched in terms of pace and ability. Together we have completed several long distance walks, my favourite being Walk the Wight. This takes place on the Isle of Wight and is for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. They offer a variety of walks across the island on the day with the longest being 27miles from Bembridge to the Needles.  We have done this walk twice now and both times we have gone across the solent on the Saturday afternoon, had a great meal in a pub and crashed out in a flat in East Cowes.  The Sunday morning sees us leaving at about 5:45 to head across to the park and ride and catch the bus to the start. This is brilliant, you get every man and his dog, literally on the bus.  Some walkers have huge backpacks and carry walking poles, others appear to be popping out for the papers and are wearing plimsolls and jeans (ouch)! The dogs are always a little nervous on the bus, I am not a dog owner so, not sure how you prepare your dog for the bus journey, or the walk! 
The start at Bembridge, involves a little registration and you are off.  It is a staggered start, giving you something like two hours during which to get going.  This is a really nice way to start the walk.  The route takes you up and across the island.  The views are spectacular and the scenery ever changing.  At first you are walking on a bit of track and then you are into the woods which are full of bluebells and trees bursting into life. People are in a long line here, chatting and avoiding the mud! The walk is extremely well marshalled and there are check in points along the way.  Each check point has water and fuel as well as the opportunity to buy coffee and tea and use the toilet.  We traipse along the edge of farmers fields and along paths that would be hard to spot in the car.  
Halfway point is a natural stop for refuelling and there is usually cake sale, hot food and a band. There is also the opportunity to buy sunflowers in aid of the hospice.  It is usually about midday when we get there and has been really hot, so a bit more sun lotion is required before heading off around the edge of Carisbrooke Castle.
The second half of the walk is the toughest by far, but the views are amazing, especially along by Freshwater Bay.  You walk through woods, more fields and along the edge of a golf club. As well as going up pretty much all the time and walking around herds of cows!  The sea is always a sort of navy blue and this set against the green hills and little coves is pretty impressive, it’s not called the Tennyson Way for nothing!
What keeps me going is the scenery and sharing it with my friends.  It is a tough challenge, with the wind and rain making it hardwork at times.  But, being in a team you always have someone who is upbeat at a different time and is happy to take the lead.  The hills are huge and relentless but, such an achievement as you round the coast at Allum Bay and cross the line. Head sorted and body worked out!
So, walk this way for more info!
http://www.walkthewight.com/

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