Sunday, March 23

Day trip to Bembridge

Bembridge village centre

Decided to take a day trip over to the Isle of Wight using the hovercraft service. The passenger capacity on the original SRN6 hovercraft in the 1960s/70s was quite small, so I was pleasantly surprised to see how big the passenger cabin was. Despite the passenger waiting area being quite full (I wondered if we all would get on), once everyone was onboard, there were still about 2/3 of the seats free.

Hovercraft passenger cabin
Hovercraft 'birthed' at Ryde terminal

The experience of travelling in the new hovercraft was similar to that of the old SRN6, but I think the new vessels are quieter.

The trip over to Ryde from Southsea was quite smooth and quick. The trip back was a bit choppy so the ride was a bit bumpy.
However compared to my bus journey on the island, the hovercraft was generally smoother!

Shelter with seats removed

From the hovercraft terminal at Ryde it's a short distance to the bus station and the long Ryde pier.
Along the pier the old style Victorian shelters were still present (maybe modern replicas?), but the seats have been removed and access around the shelters is blocked! Plus there are ''No Fishing" signs on the shelter windows.

I guess they had problems in the past with youths and others? Still seems like a great shame to not have seats. Another issue maybe that cars can drive along the pier to the car park on the piers ferry terminal, so maybe seats would be a safety issue?

Ryde pier (pedestrian and vehicle side), looking
back towards the town
It was a breezy day but nice and sunny, so walking to the pier head and ferry terminal was pleasant.
Train just departing at Ryde pier station
(beneath is the sea!)
At the end of the pier I picked up some tourist leaflets at the ferry terminal and took a look around the facilities and train station. The Isle of Wight railway is unique in that it uses old London Underground railstock and the trains run to the end of Ryde pier where passengers can catch a train, straight off the ferry.

Holy Trinity Church, Bembridge
The Bembridge bus was a double decker so I decided to take a seat at the front on the top deck.
Wow! That was a rollercoaster ride. The islands roads are full of pot holes and the tarmac in some places is non existent. On top of that, the roads haven't changed a lot since I was last there, so it was a very hilly and meandering journey.

But great fun! If you want to see the island in all it's architectural glory, take a bus and sit at the front on the top deck.

Bembridge windmill
Eventually we arrived at Bembridge which hasn't changed a lot since the 1960s. The village school next to the church is now a library, the shops have changed hands, but apart from a Cooperative store and a small Boots store, the other shops are small independents, selling fish, local farm produce and tasteful gifts/housewares.

After looking around the village centre it was time to visit the windmill which is now owned by the National Trust. It's a great example and I was told that they get it working occasionally to make sure the mechanism is in working order. At the entrance kiosk, they sell tickets for the windmill, ice creams and gifts. There are also plenty of walks in the area.

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