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Sandown - Isle of Wight - 28 September 2008

We decided to have another visit to the Isle of Wight but this time to Sandown, giving an opportunity to walk some different paths.

It was an unusually hot day for the time of year but unfortunately with very poor visibility. We flew the usual well-known route, which was just as well since the lack of visibility would have been very disconcerting in unfamiliar territory as the familiar landmarks were not appearing until we were very close.

The wind was light and variable and just before we arrived at Sandown the runway was changed from 05 to 23. We joined downwind landed and took on fuel. The price of fuel here was 1-57 per litre, which was considerably less than what Bembridge were recently charging.

Having taken on fuel we were given a notice informing us that the airfield was under threat from development. This was really terrible news since Sandown is a very popular destination for many that fly and its loss to the general aviation community would be considerable.

Having paid for fuel and our landing fee we set off for our walk. Before leaving the airfield we noticed that the Aviator Restaurant had been demolished and we hoped that a replacement would be built and that the airfield will survive for many years to come.

Aviator restaurant demolished
After a short trip along the main road we crossed to walk our usual bridleway and a short distance from the road were treated to what was for us a fantastic site, a chance meeting with a red squirrel. The squirrel climbed a tree to a safe distance and then looked at us for a couple of minutes while we looked back. (In 30+ years of walking around the local area of both Sandown and Bembridge airfields this is only the second time of seeing a red squirrel)

Red sqirrel

After our meeting with the squirrel we continued along the bridleway and discovered a small market garden activity that we had not seen before. A box next to the path had some really great looking vegetables for sale. The bridleway continues through a mobile holiday home park and then slopes upwards before coming out on the road near the railway station. Sadly along this last section of bridleway a vast number of new houses have been built with other patches of land being cleared for further housing development. This part of the island seems destined to be ruined by having houses crammed into any small patches of land that haven’t already been built on.

It was good to see that the railway station looked unchanged and from here we set off down the hill towards the sea.

Shanklin railway station

At the traffic lights we took a different route to the seafront walking along Queens Road to Shanklin Chine. Then down to the sea front to our usual café for lunch. Incredibly the day was sufficiently warm for many sunbathers to be on the beach and even a few hardy individuals who were swimming in the sea.

After lunch we walked along the sea front to Sandown pier, then through the town and onto a footpath that crosses the railway line. A short walk along a road leading to another footpath that took us across the golf course, through a small wood, over a stream and eventually coming out by the end of runway 23.

The return flight was made in better visibility and was calm throughout. A really great trip but very sad to see the island like everywhere else is suffering the pressure of never ending housing development.  Unfortunately airfields seem to be constantly under threat from such development