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Walking the Island: Crossing the Bar Project

Crossing the Bar Project – three days of inspired walking with the New Carnival Company – part of the IW Walking Festival 2021.

The New Carnival Company (NCC) has created an original programme of 13 short and longer walks celebrating the Island’s coastal footpath, as part of three-year arts and walking project linked to the opening of the new National Trail - The England Coast Path – and a designated national ‘Year of the Coast’ festival planned for 2023.

The new England Coast Path, approximately 3000 miles long, will be the world’s longest continuous coastal trail and there are planned events and celebrations in towns and villages all along the route during the festival.

The Isle of Wight, boasting one of the most beautiful and varied of coastlines to be found anywhere in the country, is naturally a highlight of the new National Trail. We want to showcase and share what beautiful beaches, cliffs and estuaries, wildlife, heritage, and culture we enjoy, with people of all ages and abilities, residents and visitors alike.

These inspired walks bring together local artists, schoolchildren and communities, the IW Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the IW Ramblers, in an innovative participatory programme to highlight special places along the route.

In each of six selected locations – Wootton, Bembridge, Niton, Brighstone, Totland and along the Medina estuary, people are invited to join in for guided walks that connect to a site which has been interpreted by local people in a unique and creative way. Community Art installations and short performances will engage walkers at the crossover point of the short and longer walks in each location.

Crossing the Bar is inspired by Tennyson’s famous poem of the same name, written whilst travelling across the Solent to his home in Freshwater. The poem contemplates his future, life after. The New Carnival Company has used this theme to start conversations about the future of our world as we emerge from the pandemic, and by exploring the changing relationship with our environment in the face of climate change.

Dozens of volunteers have helped out in planning and leading the walks, each of which takes in a part of the proposed new coastal trail. Schoolchildren and their families have been making beautiful flags to bring along to the shorter walks and adult workshops in community settings are creating some of the imaginative responses to be seen and heard along the way.

All the walks are all free to enjoy. The longer walks are number-restricted and prebooking is required. The New Carnival Company will be publishing the walking routes after the festival for all to enjoy at any time. They plan to double the number of sites for creative interventions next year, and in 2023 to lead and animate walks around the whole coastline for Year of the Coast celebrations.

See isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk for this year’s Crossing the Bar walks programme and booking information.

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