Saturday, 15 July 2017
Isle of Wight Day 3 2nd July - Beach and Coastal Path Walks, Looking for Red Squirrels and up on the Downs
Another lovely sunny day with a sea breeze keeping the temperatures from becoming too hot and humid - we really were very lucky with the weather.
This morning we walked from the cottage down to the beach at Brook Chine
I am already lagging behind taking photos - B and E already on the beach.
View toward Hanover Point, Compton Beach and Freshwater with chalk cliffs in the distance.
The geology of the Isle of Wight is fascinating. The rocks along this stretch of coastline are the oldest exposed rocks on the island formed in the Cretaceous (125 - 140 million years ago. The gently sloping, and in places almost horizontal, Wealden beds consist of red, green, purple and grey mudstones containing bands of limestone and sandstone. The top of the cliff is composed of a layer of gravel deposited by the rivers at the time of the Ice Age (much later than the Wealden beds were formed). The harder, more resistant layers run as parallel ledges to the sea (seen in some of the later photos). Chalk further along the coast at Freshwater and the Needles was deposited 80 - 90 millions years ago in clear warm seas. The rocks in places are almost vertical. Chalk is composed of miniscule fragments of tiny algae (coccoliths) which formed spheres only 1/100th of a millimetre in diameter.
D was able to use the Canon zoom to get photos of these House Martins collecting mud from the cliffs. According to the RSPB website they traditionally nested on cliffs only starting to use buildings in the 19th century. There were lots of Kestrels to be seen whenever we drove or walked along the coast road.
The tide was going out revealing rock pools at Hanover Point. When the tide is far enough out a fossilised forest or "pine raft" is revealed as well as dinosaur footprints. There is also a dinosaur footprint cast on the beach although I have only ever found it once!. Fossils to be found in this area include freshwater shells, fossilised wood, crocodile teeth and fish scales. Dinosaur and crocodile bones have occasionally been found. Some pebbles on the beach are flint washed out from the chalk and they can contain brachiopods or sponges.
As mentioned in the previous post the steps up to Compton Bay car park no longer exist so we walked further up the beach. By this stage I had lagged a long way behind the others taking photos and suddenly realised they had completely disappeared. Luckily, I looked up and there they were at the top of the cliff gesticulating to me to clamber up and join them.
It looked a bit of a scramble to me but here I go - in situations like this I would rather go up than down!
Finally, at the top!
Once at the top I realised I had forgotten all about Osborne who was most put out but glad to have reached the coast path safely!
We stopped off at the NT car park for an icecream before
continuing along the coast path back to Brook.
Lots of Soldier Beetles on various umbellifer type species.
So many wild flowers and
butterflies - Skippers, Meadow Brown, Marbled White and this Small Tortoiseshell. No Glanville Fritillaries though - I suspect it is too late in the season.
On one stretch of the walk we saw many Six Spot Burnet moths.
We had lunch back at the cottage and then decided to go on a search for Red Squirrels in Brighstone Forest and Wendover Plantation - I had found a walk in a free little booklet I had entitled "West Wight Woodland Walks" produced by the Red Squirrel Trust.
Unfortunately, even though car park by the forest was only a few miles away we got lost and ended up in Brighstone - photos taken by D through the car window.
B got rather fed up with my map reading skills (or lack of them) as we must have driven straight past (what turned out to be a well-hidden car park!) and ended up in Calborne. We didn't walk round either village this holiday but both are worth a visit being very picturesque. Brighstone has a lovely old NT post office and wonderful church and Winkle Street, Calborne is very lovely. The church there looks good too although I have never been inside.
We eventually found the car park and set off up Mottistone Down
before veering to the right along what we hoped was the Jubilee Trail.
In the end we only did about half a mile of the walk as it was just following the edge of the forest which was very dense and, if honest, a bit uninteresting although we saw lots of butterflies - Meadow Brown, Comma, White Admiral, Skippers and Marbled White. Instead we decided to return and walk up and along the Down.
Wonderful views and so many wild flowers and butterflies
In the evening I made a Dorset Apple Cake for D's birthday the next day, watched bats flitting round the cottage and Elephant Hawk-moth and Silver-y moths on honeysuckle and lavender in the front garden.
*D - photos taken by D with the Canon bridge SX50