Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Bembridge Fort Walk

The Bembridge Fort Walk is an annual summer ritual, it is the stuff of folklore. 

The idea was first conceived by my old headmaster, Dr Sawyer who set about marking summer's lowest tide by walking out to St Helen's Fort built around 1867 in response to a possible French invasion under Louis Napoleon 111) (more info on the fort here) and back.   

Since then the numbers of walkers has risen from a select few to the hundreds. Babes in arms, teenagers, dogs, the elderly, they can all be seen on this pilgrimage.

The walk takes place at the end of the day and the date historically was officially announced and usually set for the first half of August.  Like anything these days, the Health & Safety brigade - or should I say the anti fun police... have tried to put a stop to it, so now the date is set by word of mouth and latterly social media. 

This has to be one of my favourite fixtures and I have fond memories as a young child, and then as a teenager of the walk and the sight of dozens of bbqs and flames lining the beach as the night set in and the smell of sausages (these are the best sausages ever) sizzling. 

This year my two boys were old enough to really get stuck in and myself and friends eagerly hit the beach armed with piles of food, a sense of adventure and spirits high.  

Striding out with water lapping at our thighs we walked to the fort, circumnavigated it and headed back for hot dogs & hot chocolate. 

Bellies full, sand in our shoes & many wonderful memories we headed home to put two very sleep heads to bed.  This fixture on the summer calendar really says everything about the 'Great British' eccentricity. 

My friend and very talented artist, Charlotte Hodge Thomas has the most wonderful paintings of the Fort Walk and I have one hanging in our living room as a year round reminder. 

Wade to the Fort Charlotte Hodge Thomas

Charlotte Hodge Thomas

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