About the Isle of Wight
Travelling from home with the destination being an Island is always exciting. Pack up your bags and take a short trip down the A3 or M3 to Portsmouth, Southampton, or through the New Forest to Lymington; catch a ferry, relax and leave all your troubles behind. The short distance, maximum 40 mins journey across the Solent, and you will arrive at your destination, our beautiful Isle of Wight.
The Island - as a whole
The Island is diamond shape and is easily defined therefore with North, South, East, West and the Centre of the Island. It is approx 14miles x 27 miles so you can drive round it in a day - we often do!! You can only get to the Island by boat, hover craft, plane or helicopter, we can organise anything! Also, it is tidal which means that the views of the tide coming in and out means a constantly changing coastline. The Island is a constant inspiration to those who live here and we are sure to those who visit.
The Island was a Victorian play ground, even good enough for Queen Victoria herself and she built her own magnificent residence, Osbourne House. Dickens and Tennyson both were also inspired by the Island. The Island therefore has some splendid Victorian homes and a wealth of pretty cottages for us to live in and for you to holiday in. Some command fabulous views, be them in land looking over the rolling downs, or around the coast giving them the views of the sea and the air.
The activities therefore appeal to all. A fabulous coast line for stunning beach walks, horse riding and links golf courses. Fabulous walks can be enjoyed inland too with a plethora of wildlife and birdlife to enjoy. Being surrounded by the sea comes with its own activities with sailing, fishing, kayaking, or just lying on your lilo on offer.
Places to Eat
The Island is lucky enough to have some really terrific places to enjoy meals. We love our food and proud of how much is grown and supplied locally. Eateries range from seaside beach cafés with stunning views, great pubs, usually perfectly situated at the end of a good walk, and a Michelin starred restaurant for a real treat, and everything in between.
To the North of the Island you’ll find the famous mecca of Cowes. This is where those with yachts gather once a year to dash to the finishing line, spinnakers flying, for a whole week. Cowes plays host admirably with the parade being decked out with live music, individual stalls and a magnificent fireworks party to mark the end of the week. It takes place every year in August. The high street is always shut to cars so meandering up the high street, with its pretty, individual shops, is a lovely way to while away a day. Northwood House is in the centre of Cowes and has a wonderful park for walking and a play ground. To the west of Cowes is the pretty village of Gurnard with its sailing club, pretty green with a wonderful playground for children overlooking a row of beach huts. The beach runs along the coast with a few coffee shops, pubs and restaurants, commanding stunning views. Further to the West is Newtown, the oldest town in the country, with a beautiful nature reserve. Going to the East of the Island is Wooten Bridge which has a busy harbour and further round Quarr Abbey, a magnificent Abbey, perched on a hill, well worth a visit.
This part of the Island is quite spectacular - it’s quite different from any other part of the Island; it’s quite open with a rugged coast line. Running down the coast you’ll find stunning, long beaches in Sandown and Shanklin. Further along the coast you meet the windy, roads of the village of Bonchurch and in to Ventnor. Bonchurch is a pretty village nestled and the base of St Boniface Downs, Horse Shoe Bay just around the corner, a duck pond and a café bistro run by the Michelin Starred chef, Robert Thompson. On to Ventnor which is an impressive Victorian town situated on the sea and boasts a host of pubs, restaurants and the Michelin Starred restaurant, The Hamborough also run by Robert Thompson. There are antique shops and the famous Botanical Gardens, also well worth a visit. On out of Ventnor, towards St Lawrence and the spectacular St Catherine’s’ point. Keeping along the coast, The Military Road, itself is a spectacular drive with The Needles being at the end of the road. Along the way there are beaches, a golf course and you can even come across a real dinosaur foot print if you look hard enough - it is there! For more information, please refer to our HB Guide.
This is part of the Island is quite a fun, the busy fishing harbour of Yarmouth and the great fish and chips and more restaurant of Salty’s enjoyed by HRH the Princes and Chris Evans (!) lunches that run in to evenings with live music. The hairy chair lift ride to the famous Needles beach to gather your multi coloured sand, the wild and windy walks on Tennyson Downs, the spectacular beach at Freshwater, it is a whole different part of the Island. Henry VIII built a castle in Yarmouth which is kept open by the National Trust and you can picnic here and enjoy the views. Lord Tennyson also had a residence, The Farringford, near Freshwater, which has been lovingly restored by the current owners and you can play a round of golf in the grounds. Well worth a visit if you are not staying in this part of the Island.
This part of the Island is populated with pretty fishing villages, harbours and beaches. Ryde is the main town which has a good high street with independent shops and good restaurants running down to the front and the pier. A good stretch of beach which runs in to Seaview and along to Bembridge. Seaview and Bembridge are particularly popular with young families where the tides leave rock pools where the children can spend hours, lots of boat activity where father’s can enjoy their sailing or power boats and families can enjoy picnicking on the beach or dropping anchor. The village of Seaview’s beach runs all along the front towards Seagrove, The Priory Bay Beach and on to St Helens and around to Bembridge. St Helens his home to the largest green in the UK whilst Bembridge, around the corner is the biggest village in the UK. St Helens also is home to the Duver, an old Lynx golf course which leads to a row of beach huts and the beach, where there is a great place to enjoy moules and chips, Baywatch, whilst the children play on the beach. Bembridge is a proper village, entering it around the harbour with house boats flanking the shores, is The Pilot Boat Inn which serves great meals. Within the village you’ll find a fish monger, Shed - bistro/tapas/café, butcher and independent shops and lots of little roads which run down to the beach.
Within Newport are the usual shops you would find as well as play centres, vets, retail park and the hospital. Quay Arts is worth looking up with usually a packed diary of comedy clubs, art exhibitions and loads of activities for children and adults to enjoy. Quay Arts café is on The Medina River which runs through the centre of Newport and out to the Solent and is why Cowes is split in to West and East Cowes. Newport also plays host to the yearly extravaganza The Festival, a music festival with famous bands, old and new, which usually takes place over a June weekend. Other villages around the centre of the Island worth a visit are Havenstreet with their steam trains, Godshill with thatch and tea rooms, Shorwell because it’s so pretty and Arreton because of Farmer Jacks and the Dairyman’s Daughter. Also, just above here on the downs, another extravaganza The Bestival is held. A family friendly music festival usually held in September.