Today in glorious sunshine we drove off to Yarmouth to catch an Island Breezer for the Needles Tour. This is an open top bus which takes a circular route past various points of interest and you can hop on and off the bus as often as you like.
The first stop of interest was the 13th century Thorley Church of St Swithins. Unfortunately, my family (with the possible exception of my son) does not share my growing interest in churches and refused point blank to hop off the bus here!
After driving past Afton Down where the 1970 IOW pop festival was held we decided to visit Afton Park which consists of gardens, a wildflower meadow, plant nursery and an orchard which contains 150 apple trees.
We then hopped back onto the "Breezer" to travel to Freshwater which has some wonderful chalk cliffs and stacks.
Here are some photos (courtesy of my son, David) from the top of Tennyson Down.
We then walked past Dimbola, once home to Julia Margaret Cameron an important Victorian photographer.
The Jimi Hendrix Memorial Garden
Whilst waiting to hop back on the bus I was able to sneak a quick visit to St Agnes thatched church built in 1908.
The bus drove past Farringford House, now a hotel, but once home to Alfred Lord Tennyson.
We next alighted at the Needles Old Battery and ate a picnic lunch on the cliff tops. There were lots of blue butterflies flitting about but they could have been common blue, or adonis blue or silver studded blue. None of them stopped for long enough to be identified let alone be photographed!
Here are a couple of photos of the Needles again courtesy of David. I am afraid I don't "do" heights and although the viewpoint looked perfectly safe there was a terrifying vertical sheer drop on 3 sides!
There was a profusion of beautiful wild flowers on the cliff tops and, although the photos aren't very good, they give an idea of the variety to be seen. I hadn't got a wildflower id book with me but there were masses of sea pink/thrift (so evocative of cliffs), lady's bedstraw, wild thyme, birds foot trefoil, agrimony, cinquefoil and what I think were yellow archangel and common spotted orchid.
Right at the tip of the headland is the Old Battery (a National Trust property) - we have visited before so decided not to go inside this time but it is a fascinating place that has an underground tunnel leading to brilliant views of the Needles and it was once used to secretly test rockets.
Rather than waiting for the next bus we decided to walk back along the road to Alum Bay with its famous coloured sands. The quartz sands gain their different colours from the various minerals that are present.
An unusual garden just before you reach Alum Bay in aid of the Freshwater lifeboat.
We then hopped back on the bus to return to Yarmouth via Totland and Colwell Bays.
In the evening we went out for a meal at an old, picturesque Smugglers Inn in Niton called the Buddle Inn.
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