From Victorian times the Isle Of Wight has been called
'Garden Isle'. It is a small island approx. 22miles by 14miles off the
south coast of England, the nearest port to the island being Portsmouth
which is 15mins. by the catamaran ferry. However the Hovercraft Service
from Southsea is the quickest route to the Isle of Wight, taking only 10
minutes to cross the Solent to the Ryde Esplanade. The island is very
picturesque with rolling green hills surrounded by glorious coastal
scenery. There are many footpaths for walking and also cycling tracks,
where the Island is ideally suited to leisure cycling for the energetic.
It is packed with places of interest; attractive villages, stately homes,
beaches, lots of different types of countryside, pubs, cafes and tea rooms
- with never too far to go from one place to the next. Some of the roads
are so narrow that it is often necessary to slow right down in order to
pass other vehicles or horses. The island also has many areas for sailing,
surfing, hang gliding, golf and swimming, together with a big choice of
Alum Bay & The
This area is particularly famous for the 20 or more different shades of Alum Bay coloured sands, which are available from the The Needles Pleasure Park, where one is able to take a chair lift right over the cliffs down to the sea and bottom of the cliffs. This is an enjoyable trip but not for the nervous. The Pleasure Park offers the family a pleasant spot to relax in, where the children can enjoy the various
funfair rides and buy huge ice creams. Restaurants are available and also interesting tourist shops for souvenirs and nicknacks. Boat trips are also available to visit, at close quarters, the Needles, which are three large pinnacles of chalk, rising 100 feet high from the sea, together with the red and white-banded lighthouse. On the downs, high above the lighthouse, is The Fort of the old Needles Battery, built in 1863 and restored by the National Trust. You can catch open deck buses to the Needles Battery, or if you are energetic, you can walk from the Pleasure Park to The Fort, which is invigorating and offers magnificent views of the bay and the mainland across the water.
A short bus ride from Newport will take you to Bembridge, a scenic spot with a harbour full of yachts and barges. The shopping area is small, yet compact, with all that the local village residents need. Bembridge has a maritime museum with interesting exhibits from the past, including horsedrawn lifeboats. There are picturesque walks through the countryside, especially one walk to Brading past the old Bembridge Windmill which was built in 1700. Bembridge has its own airport for light aircraft and one is able to hire a plane for excursion trips to see the countryside from the air. A popular resort for tourists is The Haven, which is situated right on the sea front and offers scenic views plus the opportunity to relax and take in the refreshing sea air.
Seaport and resort on the Medina estuary, opposite Southampton Water. It is a major
yachting centre. Cowes is the starting point for the Around the World Yacht Race,
finishing at Cape Town; and Cowes Castle is the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron, which
holds the annual Cowes Week regatta. Maritime-related industries include
boatbuilding, marine engineering, sail-making, hovercraft construction, and
the manufacture of radar equipment. Tourism is important; facilities include
the island's ferry connection with Southampton.
East and West Cowes, divided by the Medina estuary, are connected by a floating bridge. East Cowes is
the location of Osborne
House, built by Albert, the Prince Consort, and Thomas Cubitt
in 1845. The house was a seaside residence of Queen Victoria, who died there in 1901.
View the Royal Apartment, full of treasured mementoes and curios and take
a glimpse into Queen Victoria's study, her bedroom and closet. Also see
the charming nursery and the grandeur of elaborately decorated state
rooms. The house is seen today just as it was at the time of her death.
Nearby is Whippenham Church (1854-62), which was designed by Prince
Albert. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and their family attended this
church when they were in residence at their holiday home. The church
contains many royal monuments. East
Cowes Castle, now in ruins, was the former home of the architect John Nash. Yachting and sailing clubs
include the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, the Royal London Yacht Club, and the Island Sailing Club.
In 1663 the first English settlers for Maryland set sail from Cowes to North America. Thomas Arnold,
headmaster of Rugby School, was born here in 1795.
Cowes, which is situated at the northern tip of the Island, is the centre for all the
yachting festivities, including the Annual
Cowes Week, which is generally held at the beginning of August. During
Cowes Week all the best yachtsmen from around the world assemble here to compete in the various competitions. Cowes is generally the starting off point for The Around the World Yacht Race where it takes the yachts three weeks to reach Cape Town in South Africa. West Cowes has narrow streets and a wide variety of shops and restaurants and has a fast ferry service to Southampton. There are many walks particularly a pleasant walk along the seafront to Gurnard, a neighbouring town. At the western end of the parade is the Cowes Castle Headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron, the world's premier yacht club. In the front of the Castle are mounted 22 small, brass canons which are used to start and finish the races.
Many visitors come to this part of the island to see where the poet Alfred Tennyson lived. He resided in a large house called
Farringford, which is now a hotel. However the study of the famous poet is still as he left it and is on show for the visitor to see. The
surrounding green and luscious countryside, which Alfred Lord Tennyson so greatly enjoyed, is still the same and free for all visitors to see and enjoy. The views in Freshwater Bay are picturesque and offer the tourist and inhabitant of the Isle of Wight beautiful scenery that is hard to beat. Hang gliders can be seen here jumping off the cliffs to enjoy their chosen sport and golfers can enjoy the spacious and undulating course overlooking the sea. The town itself is small and usually quiet and has a variety of pubs and tea rooms to choose from, in which to relax.
The main attraction in the village is its church perched high above
the village, dating back to the 14th century. Godshill Church has a
feature of a Lily Cross, a wall painting, depicting Jesus Christ crucified
on a triple-branching lily, which shows the stamens still golden and
visible. Surrounding the church is a cluster of thatched roofed cottages
still inhabited by folk, making the scenery the picturesque view it is, as
seen on the picture postcards still being bought by all the holidaymakers
when they visit this olde worlde spot in the centre of the Isle of Wight.
Godshill was the home of John Wesley, the founder of The Methodist
Church,for a few years during the 1755-1758 period, when he preached on
the Island during that time; thus the evidence of so many Methodist
Churches on the Isle of Wight. Godshill offers the tourist a restful
stopping off point where tea-rooms are plentiful and the tourists shops
offering local goods, such as honey and wine. Open all year and worth a
visit is The Old Smithy and Gardens,
Newport, on the River Medina, is the capital of the Isle of Wight dating back to 1180 when the town was founded by Richard de Redvers. In spite of Newport being razed to the ground by the French in 1377, the town flourishes today. Newport is a busy centre for coach visitors from all parts of the world, who enjoy the local market which trades every Tuesday. Newport has all the facilities of an active shopping centre. Newport is also home to the Isle of Wight County Press, which is on sale every Friday, giving all the local news and sports.
Visitors can also enjoy the famous
Carisbrooke Casle where Charles 1st was imprisoned before being executed at the Tower of London.
Set on a ridge, Carisbrooke Castle's royal connections date from early
13th century. The Wellhouse, dating from 1291, is quite unique since, from
the eighteenth century, donkeys were used to tread and turn the huge wheel
to retrieve water from the 161 foot well, a task which the famous
Carisbrooke donkeys can still be seen performing to this day. As a royal
prisoner, King Charles 1 was held captive at Carisbrooke in 1648 before
being taken to London for trial and execution. You can see the window
through which he tried unsuccessfully to escape and the green where he
played bowls to pass the time. You can step back in time by enjoying the
selection of displays, re-enactments, music and drama as knights
challenged one another. The Isle of Wight County Council Offices can be found at County Hall at the eastern end of the High Street. In St. James Square are monuments to Queen Victoria and the last Governor, Earl Mountbatten of Burma. The present parish church dates from 1857.
Resort on the NE coast of the Isle of Wight, on the Solent opposite Portsmouth, with which there is ferry and
hovercraft connection. Ryde is noted for its wealth of Regency and Victorian
buildings. The half-mile long pier, which was built in 1813, is a
prominent feature with the promenade stretching right along to Appley Gardens. This favourite walk of many continues along the seawall through oak woods and flower beds with the pleasant view of the Solent and all its shipping, from yachts to gigantic tankers. In the town there are a host of shops, restaurants and cafes catering for the visitor, especially in Union Street, the main thoroughfare which sweeps down to the sea.
The seafront has been transformed in recent years, with an ice rink, ten-pin bowling complex and an open air swimming pool, which can be enclosed during inclement weather. There is also a canoe lake and paddling pool, plus a pitch and putt course and children's play area at nearby Appley. The seafront also offers plenty of other amusements and a fine sandy beach for children to play on and for older ones to sunbathe. There are many pubs and restaurants in Ryde and the surrounding suburbs. Just outside Ryde and beyond Haven Street village can be found the interesting IOW Steam Railway which runs from Smallbrook Stadium to
For the holidaymaker who likes sun and sand, this is the place to visit, because the sand is fine and during the season the weather is generally warm and sunny. Sandown is lively and has many shops and activity
centres including The Pavilion, where visting artists can be seen right throughout the Summer months. Sandown is largely a 19th century creation, though Henry VIII built a castle here about 1540 as a strategic defence for the island. The castle was
unfortunately washed away by the sea but was replaced by Charles I until it was demolished when the town was formed. The hotels and pubs face the sea so that visitors can enjoy their food and drink in pleasant surroundings. Once again the walks are refreshing and picturesque, particularly the mile long esplanade walk alongside the sea and the walk over the downs to
Shanklin. For those who are less energetic, there is the mini golf course and the boating lake or one can visit the local zoo, home of the Tiger Sanctuary and
Lemurland. Open deck bus rides are available during the warmer months.
Resort on the southeastern coast of the Island. To the south is Shanklin Chine, a wooded
fissure in the sandstone cliff, 55 m/180 ft wide and 91 m/300 ft deep. A popular centre for visitors is the quaint town of Shanklin, which stands mostly on the cliff tops some 150 feet above the sea. Shanklin is between Sandown and Ventnor and it is here that you can stop for a satisfying lunch at one of the thatched pubs in the old partof the town.
Unfortunately the storm of 1987 demolished Shanklin pier but Sandown Pier which is a short walk away is still standing. Shanklin has many shops and all the necessary amenities for the holiday maker and is a seaside resort for those wishing to enjoy a quiet time with hotels and boarding houses that offer fine food and accommodation to suit the more discerning.
Resort on the southern coast of the Island. The town is built on a series of terraces south of St
Boniface Down, a hill that rises to 240 m/787 ft, the highest point on the island
(owned by the National Trust). Tourism is the principal industry. The walks are picturesque with all the fresh air you need to give you a new lease on life. A delightful walk is the walk down past the Cascade and Winter Garden, which winds down a steep curve, decorated on the one side with splashes of colour produced by the vast array of flowers and waterfall. The Spyglass Inn on the seaside front is a popular spot to take in a bite to eat and a glass of your favourite
beverage. An enjoyable place of interest is the Ventnor Botanic Garden, which consists of 22acres of garden allowing for a wide variety of species to be grown that are impractical to grow on the mainland as they are too tender for the prevailing winter conditions. A great place in which to relax. Also worth a visit is the RARE BREEDS and WATERFOWL PARK at St. Lawrence, near Ventnor.
YarmouthThis town is the arrival and departure point for the Wight Link ferry to Lymington on
the mainland and is a busy harbour and boatyard for enthusiasts. There is a castle that Henry
V111 built to defend the Isle of Wight coast against a French invasion crossing the Solent in 1545.Also visitors can enjoy the many tea-rooms in Yarmouth as well as a variety of pubs serving meals. The
pier in Yarmouth is open to visitors and fishermen alike and is a pleasant walk on a fine day. In addition, open air buses are available for visitors to visit the Needles, where
more panoramic views are to be seen. Nearby you can discover FORT VICTORIA in Westhill Lane, where you can visit the MARINE AQUARIUM, the ISLAND PLANETARIUM, the Sunken HISTORY exhibition and the MODEL RAILWAY.
Benedictine monastery at Quarr Abbey; Parkhurst
Prison, just outside Newport;