I always feel a great pressure to show off the Isle of Wight in its best light when we are with visiting friends and relatives. My aim is to persuade them that the Isle of Wight is a top notch holiday resort, so the itinerary has got to be perfect.
The ideal tour works like a visit from the International Olympic Committee where all the traffic lights are programmed to turn green. We visit beaches at low tide, chase the sunshine around the Island and casually take short detours along more scenic roads whilst avoiding traffic.
You can imagine my distress when I took some visiting family to Appley beach and found howling winds which blew your hats off. The wind slammed the car doors shut and we told the children to wait in the car whilst we came up with a plan. I feared they would be blown into the sea if they stood outside for too long.
Worse still, the road to the main car park was closed.
I knew there had been problems along the seafront but it was a lot more problematic than I expected. We could have walked along but that didn't appeal with five children in tow.
And so, I suggested we headed to Puckpool Park. I had a feeling you could cut through to the beach but we could always play on the playground if not.
To my delight, I discovered that the walk through from Puckpool to Appley is an absolute breeze and it brings you out at the nicer end of the beach (in my opinion). Apologies to the rest of the world who have known this for years.
When we visited, it was much more sheltered than the other end of the beach and there was a choice of shade or sunshine.
I also prefer the Puckpool Park playground to the seafront playground. They're both good, but there are no swings on the seafront which didn't go down with child one.
It's best to park at the second car park in the grounds of Puckpool and then you'll emerge by The Dell Cafe.
If you're more determined and thrifty then you might be able to park for free just outside of Puckpool Park. It's a five minute walk from there to the beach, rather than 50 metres, but it'll save you a few pounds.
Totland and Colwell are two similar sort of beaches in the West Wight. They've both got a couple of places to eat, a toilet and parking near the beach. They offer glistening seas on a sunny day, usually calm waters and plenty of opportunities for people watching.
The walk between them is only about half a mile, so you can be there and back in 20 minutes if you move at a good pace. Of course, you might prefer to amble along, admire The Needles and smell the sea air. The last time I visited there were hundreds of tiny fish visible in the water.
The parking in Totland is all pay and display, whereas you might find a bit of free parking on the road on a quiet day in Colwell. For that reason, I'd suggest parking in Colwell.
This one works with pushchairs and wheelchairs but it's also a good route for a short run.
The main advisory is that there are no railings and there's a sizeable drop down below. If you're walking with a pushchair, three toddlers and a dog then you might find it a little tense.
The route is pretty obvious - head left as you face the beach in Colwell and keep going until you run out of pavement.
Halfway along you'll find the dramatic site of a landslide which happened in 2012. The aerial photos are really quite something.
Rather than removing all the debris and rebuilding the entire sea wall, the decision was made to construct a 'make do and mend' path over the top of the landslide. This was obviously a money-saving plan but it seems to be doing the trick and it makes for an interesting feature.
As a result, the walk now has a bit of a climb and a gravel section which isn't quite as smooth as the rest.
The photo below shows the path and will hopefully give you an idea of whether you'll be able to cope with it (the railings on the right give a clue as to how steep it is). Honestly, I think most wheelchairs will be fine with it but I obviously can't offer a guarantee.
Once you get back to Colwell, there are a couple of places where you can gorge yourself on ice creams and coffees.
Other Walks In The Trilogy:
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog