"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Isle of Wight - Day 2 (27th June): Red Squirrel, Godshill and Brading Down

An early morning walk along Niton public footpaths.

(The photos are all taken by D with the Canon Bridge Camera)

Red Admiral on Valerian

Oh joy! - a Red Squirrel!! :)

We've walked through many forests and woods in the Isle of Wight hoping to catch a glimpse of Red Squirrels but have never been successful. The three encounters we have had were all by chance and when we weren't particularly looking for this species.

There is a thriving population of around 3,500 Red Squirrels on the island. They do well here because there are no Grey Squirrels. The greys outcompete the reds for habitat and also carry the squirrelpox virus which is fatal for reds. The island remains vigilant for any sightings of grey squirrels - there are even tales of ferries being turned back to the mainland because they were carrying an interloper!

We then spent several hours in the chocolate box village of Godshill. I know its touristy there but I never get tired of visiting - it is just so quaint.

The Old Smithy

This garden was full of fairies and gnomes.

This shop which used to sell lots of lavender type products has now been taken over by Island Gems - lots of fossils, rocks and jewellery for sale. I was very good and refused to be tempted. The amber jewellery looked exceedingly expensive there to me.

D and I left B and E sitting on a bench whilst we walked up to Church Hollow to the picturesque cottages and church that appear on many calendars.

I actually experienced a moment of road rage at this location - even though I wasn't driving. D said I was making a fuss over nothing but I was livid. I was standing at the side of the road with the camera held up to my face waiting for someone to move round the corner so I could take a photo of the cottages when suddenly a massive 4x4 drew up in front of me and stopped in the middle of the road completely obscuring my view. Thoughts of lazy B******** went through my mind after huffing and puffing up the steep hill myself. To try and keep calm I turned round to try and get another photo of the other cottages when lo and behold a woman got out of the vehicle and came and stood directly in front of me (again obscuring my view) to take her own photo. I was totally speechless especially when she said oh dear, am I blocking your view? Its a good job they drove off before I could give vent to my feelings!

To calm down I went to look at the lovely church whilst D returned in search of B and E.

The Church at Godshill, dedicated to All Saints, is also known as The Church of the Lily Cross because of the unique medieval mural on the east wall of the south transept. It is believed that a church was built here in the reign of Edward the Confessor (between 1042 and 66). Nothing remains today of this church and very little of the Norman church that superseded it. The present building dates mainly from the early 14th century.

There is a charming legend attached to the building of the original church. Missionaries originally began to build it about 3 miles south of the village that exists today but for several mornings they discovered the stones they had lain had been removed overnight to the present location of the church. After the 3rd occasion they took the decision to build the church where the stones had been placed - i.e. God's Hill.

The churchyard was beautiful - so wish I had had more time to look round as it was full of wildflowers, lichens and interesting gravestones and superb views over the surrounding countryside.

18th century sundial

Restored 15th century Churchyard Cross.

The church tower is a landmark for many miles around and has the dubious record of being the tower most often struck by lightning in the country!
The church is the largest pre-Reformation church on the Island being 90 feet long and 60 feet across the transepts.

It was a very brief visit to the church so I only managed to take a few photos and, as always, missed many of the important features.

This is the Lily Cross which gives the church its alternative name. The transept gates were shut so I had to poke the camera through the bars to get a photo. I didn't dare try and open the gates to get inside in case I set off any alarms! (eh Pete :) )

This is the Leigh Monument - I really should have taken more (and better photos) although it wasn't easy as I am so short :( (Could have done with a chair to stand on!!). Its a monument to Sir John Leigh who died in 1529 and his wife Agnes. The effigies are carved from Derbyshire alabaster. We won't talk about the rare Bedesmen I didn't take a photo of :( Had forgotten all about them until I got back to the cottage and found the Church guide from my last visit.

Another monument this time to Sir James Worsley who died in 1536 and his wife Anne, the daughter of John Leigh. They kneel at prayer desks facing east with Lady Anne behind her busband. (Way before the days of equality for women!!)

The organ has been in the church for 150 years and contains some 18th century pipes.

I went off in search of the rest of the family only to find a disgruntled D who'd been traipsing up and down the main street looking, without success, for B and E.

They eventually re-appeared looking rather furtive - they had sneaked off and had a cream tea!! Now, I will sacrifice an ice-cream to go and take photos but not a cream tea.

We were rather greedy and had the Full Cream Tea!! which meant 2 scones each :)

Then off for a walk on Brading Down - chalk downland with stunning views towards Shanklin and Sandown. I do love chalk downland habitat but sadly usually only get to visit it once a year when we are on holiday.

In the distance you might be able to make out yachts - Saturday was the day of the Round the Island Race

I've included these shots D took with the Canon Bridge with the enviable zoom! In one you can make out the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.

Later in the day when driving back to Niton we spotted several hares in a field and bats were flying round the cottage at dusk.

Sorry for the huge amount of photos but I do tend to use my blog posts on holidays as a record of what we did and saw.

The next post will include a visit to Bonchurch with its Dickens connection and an ancient very beautiful church, Wroxall Down and then a trip to my favourite beach Compton Bay.


Countryside Tales said...

Super post full of lots of lovely things. I do love the island and I am SO PLEASED you saw squirrels! I have yet too.... x

Ian Doyle said...

Great post, super photos.

Margaret Adamson said...

You certainly are having a great time on the I.O.W. and some of the places you have photogrphed i have nnot been to so i will check them out when I rturn there. Lovely post.

Ragged Robin said...

Countryside Tales - Thanks very much CT :) I'd move there tomorrow if I could! Parkhurst Forest is supposedly good for Reds. The three we've seen there as well as the Niton one include one at Quarr Abbey and one that ran across the road on the route from Chale to Newport.

I've got a free guide I once picked up on West Wight Red Squirrel Woodland walks and that suggests places such as Fort Victoria Country Park, Walters and Town Copse, Mottistone Common, Brighstone Forest...

Ian Doyle - Thanks very much Ian - so glad you enjoyed.

Margaret Adamson - Thanks very much Margaret. So glad I am giving you some ideas of places to visit. We are still finding new things and places too :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

Love your squirrel! Buddleia is now in flower here, but the butterflies don't seem that interested yet, although there are plenty of sporty red admirals around, 2nd flight peacocks aren't up yet.

David Turner said...

Wonderful to see the Red Squirrel pics, especially as I haven't seen one for years, whilst I never realised how beautiful the Isle of Wight seems to be. Indeed I certainly never realised it was so hilly!

Love the little church and the interesting little story attached to it, as well as the fascinating interior. However that view from the church-yard towards the distant hills is simply stunning :-)

The cream tea looks rather pleasant :-)

Kindest regards & best wishes to all :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Simon Douglas Thompson - Thanks Simon :) Buddleia in our garden isn't out yet but good to hear you are getting plenty of butterflies even if they aren't yet interested in the buddleia flowers.

David Turner - Thanks so much David. We've only ever seen 3 Red Squirrels on the IofW but quite a few in the Lake District when we used to holiday up there twice a year.

The Isle of Wight is very beautiful - West Wight (more rural and less touristy) is my favourite part. We didn't go to the Needles this year but its very lovely there. I think you would like it there. There's quite a few steep walks up onto the Downs!!

Sorry there weren't much photos of the church - really wished at times I had more time to look round churches and/or the family were interested in them!

With very best wishes Caroline

amanda peters said...

What a wonderful second day, apart from the "lady"! Believe me I have come across a few... The Red Squirrel is so cute. All the houses look so nice and I really must look for a church with wild flowers.I could quite eat that cream tea right now :)
Amanda xx

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Thanks so much Amanda.

By coincidence I was thinking of our discussion of the Greenoak Churchyard Book earlier this year when we said we'd try and visit a flowery churchyard in the summer. Hope we both get chance to visit one soon :) I'll try and look at the book within the next few days as I think there were one or two churches in Oxfordshire that looked promising (just have to persuade OH it would make a good day out!!).

Millymollymandy said...

You can't possibly have a cream tea with only one scone! Envious again! Great to see the red squirrel and everywhere looks so cute with all those thatched cottages. Mind you the road rage was understandable, some people are so caught up in their own important little worlds I reckon they don't even notice others. :-(

Ragged Robin said...

Millymollymandy - Thank you and lol re: the scone! IofW very quaint and old fashioned - much slower pace of life. Its like going on holiday when I was a child :)

Still fuming about that woman - I console myself if that is what they were doing all holiday they would be missing so much!

Deb said...

Great photos. I love the thatched cottages and the beautiful old church and the cheeky gnome stuck in a...is it a chimney pot??

I would be annoyed at that ignorant woman too. :-)

Ragged Robin said...

Deb - Thanks so much. Godshill is particularly lovely (if a trifle busy!!). I agree the gnome does look stuck in the chimney pot!

Good to see so many agree about the ignorant woman!

amanda peters said...

When you get chance to look in you book on churches have a look if it has any for Yorkshire, I'm in the west but from the north so any area would do if there is one.

Do you go on twitter? have been on for ages but never used it before, now I'm using it to see what butterflies and moths people have spotted in my area !!!
Amanda xx

Pete Duxon said...

well done on the squirrel!

oh and if you can't see the tomb your camera has a flippy screen :D

and Godshill is very pretty......

Ragged Robin said...

Amanda Peters - Hi Amanda - my desktop has given up the ghost so have borrowed son's laptop for 5 minutes. I may go a bit quiet on blogger until OH can fix (or replace) desktop. But will look for churches for you and let you know.

I spend more time on Twitter than Blogger!!!! You can find me at Ragged Robin @carolineirwin3. I find it brilliant for wildlife related items too so glad you are getting some good local info on it :) Will have to rely on Kindle for a while so Twitter account may go a bit quiet too :(

Ragged Robin said...

How on earth does my son use this laptop without a mouse :(

Pete Duxon - Thanks so much Pete :) lol re flippy screen. My Olypmus doesn't have one and D had the bridge camera and had done a disappearing act back to Godshill village!