I first came to the Island in June 1989, for a job in Sandown.  Having come from the north I was enchanted by its welcoming warmth.  In the parks the grass was not green as it had been in Durham, but golden from lack of rain.  So, I could tell the warmth I was enjoying had been around for weeks if not months before my arrival.   

My day was taken up with the interview but in the evening, I ambled around Sandown, where I encountered contented holiday makers taking life at its own pace, knowing that it was a life that I was soon to share.  I still have the tin for the sweets I bought that evening, it is by me now; ‘Yacht Drops by Sandown-Shanklin Confectionery Ltd’. 

Now I am the Education Officer at Brading Roman Villa. This means I design, book and deliver educational visits for schools.  In addition to this I guide and engage adults who come to the Villa but also those groups who ask me to visit them.  Covering both of these, is my role as a UNESCO Biosphere Ambassador.  The purpose of the UNESCO Biosphere is help everyone appreciate and understand the environmental and cultural assets the Isle of Wight has in abundance. The Biosphere will help people engage with these assets and in this way make the economy of the Isle of Wight more sustainable. 

So, the UNESCO Biosphere will help us feel proud of the Island and our life on it. 

Group of people enjoying the views of the countryside on the Isle of Wight

I really enjoy walking on the Island and my favourite short walk would be to leave the car at the end of Inglewood Park in St Lawrence and walk to the Coastal Path by New Bank End Farm.  Then I head westward as far as Binnel Bay.  This walk clings to the cliff edge and allows spectacular views both east and west.  

There are lots of small bays into which one can descend for a picnic that is peaceful and undisturbed by other people.  One warm January I was amazed by an intense buzzing and found it to be insects feasting on the ivy flowers that lined both sides of the path.  From Binnel the path ascends to the old road, now closed to through traffic, but a delight for walkers. 

For a longer walk, I would leave the car in Shalfleet and take the footpath through Nunney’s Wood then join the Hampstead trail to the Coastal Path.  This takes me to Lower Hampstead along board walks and through woodland.  This walk then hugs the coast to Yarmouth.  

I did it once on the same day as the Round the Island Race and got a fabulous view of the middle and end of the fleet.  I get great pleasure from seeing places I know from different angles.  Taking time to stop and observe the varied and precious environment that played so large a part in getting the Isle of Wight designated as a UNESCO Biosphere.  

In Yarmouth there is a delightful selection of places for whatever refreshment you arrive in time for: morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner. Then I usually take the bus back to the car. 

From December to March my favourite walk is from Sandown to Shanklin along the seawall. At the base of the cliff, you are in the sun and out of the wind and this makes the most of the winter warmth.  There are places to stop for refreshment and toilets too.  It is on this route, I so often chat with the friends and acquaintances that naturally build up, having lived in a small community for more than thirty years.  

On the Island there are so many great views, it is difficult to choose just one.  In mid-summer I enjoy sitting to watch the sun as it sets from the Sea Mark on Ashey Down.  The colours in the sky and on the land are fascinating for their variety and texture.  A more intriguing view can be had from Luccombe Down, which is accessed via Ventnor Radar Station.  From the hill overlooking Shanklin you can see Culver to the East, but if you turn through 1800 you can see The Needles. In the summer the Down is alight with purple heather and Cetti’s Warblers with Skylarks trilling above.  

View of Brading Roman Villa from the downs

For the Walking Festival this year, I am guiding four gentle and convivial walks, between two and four miles where people can share information about what we see.  The emphasis is on stopping, seeing and engaging.  They are not about marching as quickly as possible to the end point.  

My walks from the Roman Villa encompass four quite different landscapes: downland, hanging woods, marshes and riverbanks.  The perfect exemplification of why this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and why the Island has been designated a UN Biosphere.  All within half a mile of the Brading Roman Villa.   

Brading Roman Villa is a Scheduled Monument in a Site of Special Scientific Interest, which is itself in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It is an under-used gem.  People can use it 24 hours a day 365 days a year, all for free.  So, my walks explore and explain the flowers, the animals and the land.  I can show you the difference between nuts that have been eaten by red squirrels, by dormice and by other nut eaters. I am passionate about helping people enjoy what is on their doorstep.