September 9 – Southampton to Cowes
“We’re going the wrong way, we should have gone down that street.”
“Stop. Turn around.”
“Seriously! We need to go back down that road.”
Five months in and some things never change! We made at least four wrong turns this morning as we navigated our way to the centre of Southampton. We would pedal on and then Steve would come to an abrupt halt, announce our need for a u-turn and back we would go. Sometimes the route is pretty obscure though and we end up in very back streets. At one point we went down a side street, were left thinking, ‘where is this taking us?’ before spotting a narrow track in between two fences that was a cut through to another street and that’s where we had to go. So, sometimes the route can be a bit hidden and sometimes, we just go the wrong way!
Despite some zigzagging, more than one u-turn and bumping up and down a few gutters as we rerouted, we made it into the city of Southampton. Most of the way had been on roads, with the drivers being fantastic again, sometimes we got a bike lane or a short path and then we came to Southampton Common and had a short pedal through this lovely park. It had been forecast heavy rain today so we both had the slicks on standby. Thankfully it stayed fine for the ride and we even had to stop to shed our waterproof layers, so Steve peeled off the Orange Wonder and I whipped down the waterproof trousers, that we’d put on as a preemptive strike against the oncoming deluge.
We whizzed through the city traffic, pedalled frantically across intersections and then down to the ferry terminal. We waited our turn to board, behind the trucks and cars and then walked the bikes into the bowels of the ship, parked them way up front and then headed up the stairs. We found a spot way up on the top deck and discovered it was the designated dog deck. There were a few pooches around sitting under tables or on laps after the announcement “Please don’t let dogs on the furniture.” There was one loud bout of shouting from a Border Terrier after it spotted a Fox Terrier it didn’t like the look of, but apart from that we all enjoyed a peaceful, calm and uneventful crossing of the Solent, including elevenses, as we hopped from the big island of England to the little’n across the water.
By the time the nose of the big ship kissed the wharf at Cowes, the rain had arrived. While we waited for the ramp to go down we both swiftly got into full slicks top and bottom and then wheeled out onto the Isle of Wight. Next stop was the chain ferry that would take us from East to West Cowes and after a wet wait, we crossed the river and pedalled off.
We had to pedal straight up a fairly steep street to our guesthouse, where we were able to check in early, get dried off, have a cuppa and then head out to have a look at Cowes.
We strolled along the High Street, down to the water and along the Esplanade.
“Is it a public holiday?” I asked Steve.
“I can’t get over how quiet it is.”
There was hardly anyone around as we roamed about. Yes, it was raining but not enough to keep people in and we already know the Brits are fabulously resilient when it comes to weather, so a bit of wet certainly wasn’t the reason for the quiet streets. Whatever it was it was lovely. There was hardly a sound, with just the squawking of the gulls as we walked by the harbour. The fog had blanketed the water and we could only just make out the shape of the mainland on the grey horizon.
It was a very pleasant stroll around a very peaceful and quaint little town and a lovely intro to our time on the Isle of Wight. We’ll have a few days on the island to explore the place, so we wait with bated breath to see what awaits. It’s only a small island so perfect for us…surely we can’t get lost on a postage stamp or take too many wrong turns. If you hit the water you’ve gone too far!
Distance ridden: 10.9 km
Time in the saddle: 56 minutes
Weather: grey, then rain, not too cold though, 16C
Squirrels spotted: 2
Our route to Southampton: