Isle of Wight – Britain’s own island within the sun

Isle of Wight – Britain’s own island within the sun

The Isle of Wight can best be described as Britain’s Own “Sunshine Island” with temperatures and sunshine not only amongst the simplest to be found within the UK but often warmer than places like Corfu.

I discovered this at the top of May, when the local radio station proudly announced on my third day that the temperature would be higher than the islands in the Mediterranean region!

This is my wife’s nostalgic return visit, and it was the last time I visited the Isle of Wight 34 years ago.Where to stay in isle trip line.

 

What dramatic changes would we find?

Would the island be as “inviting” as we had found it way back within the 1970’s.the solution was simple? It had been as nice. There had not been too many changes although admittedly there have been a couple of more cars! But one among the thrill of the Isle of Wight is that traffic is to some extent “regulated” by space on the three car ferry routes linking the island with the mainland.

The character of the charming small villages scattered throughout the island is unspoiled. Traditional English tea gardens have cream tea, handmade cakes and teapots with “proper” cups and saucers. You have no cheap plastic waste!

God shill’s thatched huts, elegant visitor shops, and “micro village” attractions are still the most popular attractions and require three separate visits during the week!

For tourists who visit the southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight all day, they must travel “all-weather” on the colorful sandy beaches of Alum Bay and the needles (Needles). to figure off those “extra inches” added from the cream teas we decided to steer both down and up the 189 steps from the highest parking lot to the beach. For those trying to find quick access there’s a reasonably modern chair-lift which was good value at just £4.00 return. We found you’ll not collect your own colored sands at beach level but instead had to travel to the shop, purchase a container (of various shapes and sizes) and fill your own from tubs of the various colors. You’ll also purchase ready-filled shapes for small extra cash .

 

One surprising change on the island, possibly thanks to climate “warming”, was two vineyards. We visited Roasters on our return drive from Alum Bay because it was conveniently located between Freshwater and New bridge and were offered a tasting before deciding which – if any – of the red and whites on offer.

From German Dornfelder Red to Madeleine Angevine (1859) there was an honest option to be found and although best described as “young” the wines were quite acceptable and that we returned with a “few” bottles! I suppose finding wine on the Island shouldn’t have come as that much of a surprise because the Romans were here nearly 2,000 years ago. There’s a particularly interesting Roman Villa to be found at Brading and because the Romans enjoyed their wine I could well understand why!

Families won’t be disappointed if selecting the Island for his or her family holiday. With clear blue sea water; famous golden sands; two zoos and various attractions on the Piers at resorts like Sandown and Shackling, there’s sufficient to stay the kids happy.

For steam railway buffs there’s the enchanting steam railway and museum at Haven Street and its runs daily from mid-June until mid-September with special days before and after these dates. The track runs from Wotton to the mainline connection at Small brook Junction and may be a memorable trip back in time.

For gardeners amongst you the island has plenty to ascertain and a visit to the Garlic Farm at New church may be a “must”. No fewer than 40 different pickles and relishes all made up of garlic produced on the farm and you’ll also bring home your own garlic growing pack.

My wife and I live in Sandown at the St. Catherine Hotel [Editor’s note on March 18, 2016: this hotel is no longer open]; it’s only a 10-minute walk from the waterfront, but in a quiet part of the city. Own parking lot. Food was excellent and en suite accommodation couldn’t be faulted. After a filling three course dinner it had been nice to go away the car behind and walk right down to the promenade for a few refreshing evening air before retiring for a superb night’s sleep.

A visit to the Isle of Wight wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Queen Victoria’s favorite summer retreat – Osborne House – just outside Cowes. From the parking lot we took a horse-drawn carriage ride (only 0.50p each) to the most residence and spent an intriguing three hours visiting the varied rooms and gardens. It had been quite eye opener to catch abreast of the history of Victoria, her large family, and the way and where various “off-spring” had ended up.

We had chosen the ferry route between Southampton and East Cowes and it had been a tragic moment when it had been time to depart on the Saturday. But the hour-long crossing of Solent and up Southampton Water gave us many times to reflect on the various fascinations the Island holds.

And guess what. As we came into Southampton (West Quay) it had been RAINING! and that we had just spent an excellent seven days in sunshine and temperatures within the upper 20’s!

 

Getting There

Wight link (Wight link is that the largest ferry company on the Isle of Wight) and Red Funnel Isle of Wight Ferries (based in Southampton, and operates two ferry services) operate the ferry service between English mainland and therefore the Isle of Wight sailing the Southampton to Cowes, Portsmouth to Fishbourne, Limington to Yarmouth and Portsmouth to Ryde routes. Check for cheap airline bookings to isle.