Saturday 21 July – Cycling to Carisbrooke Castle

Today the bicycles came out.  We’re moored side to, so Dominic had devised a system of using the boom and a halyard as a lifting mechanism for the rather heavy bicycle bags. It was a bit unwieldy though, so in the end he decided it was actually easier to just carry them off the boat.

Firstly we set off to the Sir Max Aitken museum, as our Tom Cunliffe said it’s a must. It’s a quirky, but lovely collection of  memorabilia housed in what was once a sail maker’s loft. Seeing Napoleon’s son’s cradle was a bit weird.  There were several colourful figureheads and very interesting Nelson memorabilia.  They also have a few pieces from the HMY Britannia rescued before the yacht was sunk. The museum guide told us that ‘she was so loved by King George that he left instructions that she would ‘follow him to the grave’ – and when King George died in 1936, she was stripped of her furnishings and sunk off the Isle of Wight’.

Figurehead of Elizabeth I and other nautical memorability at the Sir Max Aitken museum
Remembering Admiral Lord Nelson 

Now it was time for the main event; cycling to Carisbrooke Castle.  We had found a cycle route from Cowes that for a great part runs along a disused railway line.   The ride there was lovely through woodland along the Medina on one side and fields on the other.   I have to admit that I still find cycling a bit frightening and needs a lot of concentration in traffic.  But I guess it’s like everything else; I just have to keep practising.

Upstream river Medina at low tide

We both really enjoyed Carisbrooke Castle.  We walked all around the battlements and the views are out of this world.   From the Keep you can see Fawley Power Station by Southampton Water, and the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth.  Landmarks we know well by now!

The Norman Keep at Carisbrooke Castle

We learned that Carisbrooke was the powerbase for the amazing Isabella de Fortibus and that this is where Charles I was imprisoned before his execution.  We read about the continual structural changes from its beginnings as a Saxon burh to a Norman castle, changing to a major artillery fort during Elizabeth I’s reign through to it being modernised as the home to Queen Victoria’s youngest daughter.

Model of the medieval castle

We are not altogether sure how we feel about the donkeys that are used to show how the water was raised from the castle’s well.  It’s not that we think that English Heritage aren’t’ doing all they can to keep their donkeys well, and we realise they are only expected to tread the wheel for short periods of time, but we feel it is still questionable whether there isn’t another way to illustrate the historical use of the well-house.

When we got back we relaxed on deck and enjoyed all the admiring glances that Idun attracts from passers-by (read men) and plenty of people asking about our electric bikes.  We are very lucky!


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