Guest writer Mark Fox continues with his series looking at different places of interest on the Island. This issue he looks at the Monastery Walk, Binstead to Fishbourne.
Autumn is a very special time of year on the Island. The summer crowds have departed and a certain quietness and gentleness returns. The evenings begin to draw in and the debate begins about when to turn the heating on or light the fire for the first time in several months. You begin to think about where you stored the thick jumper and the heavy overcoat. It is the time of year when going for a long walk along one of the very many routes we are lucky enough to have on our doorstep comes into its own. After all there are few things finer than striding out on a crisp autumn day and breathing in deeply – whether it’s a walk along the beach or along a country path.
One of our firm family favourites is the Monastery Walk, from Binstead to Fishbourne. Starting at the Binstead end by walking down Quarr Road you walk through the farm land along the public bridleway. The view out to the Solent is one of the most picturesque you can find anywhere on the Island. Quite soon you come up to the ruins of the old medieval monastery. Part of the ruins is the old farmhouse, which is still lived in.
It is worth stopping and looking at the sight the original monastic community of Cistercians chose to sight their new home. It is well positioned in a low-lying position on the coast, so easily accessed by sea and thereby providing good communications to the mainland and beyond – an important consideration for what at that time would have been an international organisation. There is a freshwater stream running through what was the centre of the buildings, providing ready access for the kitchens and other needs. Land was plentiful and fertile, as it remains today. It would have been hard to find a more suitable place to establish a new foundation.
Moving on with the walk you come up on the new monastery, Quarr Abbey. Here you can find a working place of worship and learning. Much has been done to open up the monastery to visitors to make it a more welcoming place – but it still retains a sense of peace and stillness. The great abbey church is definitely worth visiting. Austere but commanding and beautiful.
On with the walk and up the hill, coming closer to Fishbourne. After a while surrounded by trees and hedges once again a beautiful view of the sea opens up. This time looking across to the west.
After that it’s down hill all the way to Fishbourne Lane. Turning right and on down the hill to the mouth of the Creek. Despite the car ferry chugging in and out this still remains a beautiful place to sit and watch what’s going on. There is the added benefit too of the welcoming presence of the Fishbourne Inn before you do the return journey!
This part of the Island is easily overlooked as people come hurtling off the ferry on their way to other parts. It remains however a quiet and beautiful part of our Island home.