Our Island

She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight and she calls it 'The Island' as if there were no other island in the world.

Jane Austen – Mansfield Park

Dates for the diary

13th – 16th of June —– Isle of Wight Festival

The award winning Isle of Wight Festival is steeped in history and famed for mixing iconic legendary artists with the hottest up and coming acts. Year on year, 55,000 stylish, free spirited Festivalgoers come together in a beautiful location, for one of the most distinctive events of the season. With the best atmosphere around and a friendly vibe, as soon as you set sail across the Solent it feels like the holiday has already begun.

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29th of June —– Round the Island Race

The annual Round the Island Race, organised by the Island Sailing Club, is a one-day yacht race around the Isle of Wight, an island situated off the south coast of England. The race regularly attracts over 1,400 boats and around 15,000 sailors, making it one of the largests yacht races in the world and the fourth largest participation sporting event in the UK after the London Marathon and the Great North and South Runs.

Competitors come from all over the UK, other parts of Europe and as far away as the USA to follow the 50 nautical mile course round the Isle of Wight. Starting on the famous Royal Yacht Squadron line in Cowes, the fleet races westabout, to The Needles, round St Catherine’s Point and Bembridge Ledge buoy, and back into the Solent to the finish line at Cowes.

Spectators can find many vantage points, both on the mainland and Isle of Wight, to watch the race progress. The first start in Cowes for the 2018 race is at 6.30am, and you can find more information about where the boats typically are at different times during the day by clicking here. Those who cannot get to watch in person can always keep an eye on the race’s progress on the website, via our live text commentary and our boat tracking facility.

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30th of June —– Royal County Show

 

A great event for all the family, visit the County show website to see whats on offer.

We’ve tried to think of everything, so that you can enjoy a fun day in the Showground, with all the amenities that you need. Here are some of our facilities…

  • Free carpark on site

  • Buy tickets with cash or cards

  • Places to eat & drink local produce

  • Free WiFi

  • Park & ride from IOW College

  • Lots of toilets with sinks

  • Alcohol will be served in our ‘pubs’

  • Hand washing facilities

  • Free tractor rides

  • Designated disabled toilets

  • Indoor, outdoor & shaded areas

  • Picnic areas

  • Places to lock up your bike

  • Water bowls for dogs

  • Isle of Wight ice creams available

  • Seating on hay bales

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Rhythemtree Festival — 12th of July – 14th of July

In July 2019 Rhythmtree returns for the 9th consecutive year to it’s beautiful tree lined site on the Isle of Wight.

With it’s unmatched reputation as a relaxed, fun-filled and family friendly musical weekend Rhythmtree gives everyone, young or old, the opportunity to enjoy the very best in international, national and local music in the safe, easily accessible and utterly gorgeous surroundings of Three Gates Farm and this year there’ll be more than ever before for both adults and kids to enjoy with new performance spaces and even more kids entertainment than ever before.
At Rhythmtree you can come for a day or stay for the weekend on our lovely campsite right next to the main arena – camping and car parking are both free, entertainment runs from late in the morning to late in the night.
With beautiful open spaces dotted with oak trees, our lovely stages in the shady glades of Jill’s Woods, the ever popular “Didg Cafe” with it’s comfy sofas and chairs, the return of the magical “Carnivale” and some completely new areas for 2019 Rhythmtree has “everything you want from a festival without any of the things you don’t.”
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Vegan Festival — 21st of July

The Island’s Vegan Festival is a unique day packed with exclusively all things vegan. The garden will be filled with vegan related stands, ranging from food to clothing and skincare products, plus activities in our health and fitness studios. We will also have live music to keep you entertained.

Entry to this event will be completely FREE.

Our café and restaurant will be serving exclusively vegan food all day, giving everyone a chance to sample vegan cuisine. Even non-vegans will love this extravaganza. For more information give us a call on 01983 855397.

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Ventnor Fringe — 23rd of July – 28th of July

VENTNOR FRINGE FESTIVAL 2019: 10th Anniversary Edition

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary in 2019 the Ventnor Fringe is a week long festival which sees the Island’s southernmost town totally transformed into a whole world of pop up venues and bars in every conceivable space, hosting over 100 different shows.

From outdoor cinema, the best new comedians and gigs in the harbour to the truly barmy events like improvised hip hop in a Laundrette or a 1930’s Parisian ‘Book Bus’ the Fringe has something for everyone! Best of all you can pick and choose which ticketed events to see or simply explore the many free events on offer.

Details of our programme will be released in the Spring.

Artists Registration is now open! If you would like to take part please go to our Ventnor Fringe website.

“One hell of a homegrown festival….an authentic, bohemian festival experience” The Independent

“…rapidly becoming the country’s most surprising and inspirational multidisciplinary arts festival” The Sunday Times

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Newport Carnival — 25th of July

Carnival fever comes to the Island’s capital town, various locations around Newport. See website for procession route.

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Sandown Main Carnival — 27th of July

Join in with the carnival fun with Sandown’s Main Procession!

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Dick and Dom Presents – The Great Wonderfest — 1st of August – 4th of August

New family festival in 2019 on the Isle of Wight – TV legends, Dick & Dom Present The Great Wonderfest that takes place between the 1st August and the 4th August.

The Great Wonderfest will feature music, magic and merriment including:

* Live acts and DJs.

* Magic and mystique.

* Family shows and TV stars.

* Comedy and cabaret.

* Big games and family fun.

* VIP packages and boutique accommodation.

Plus much more.

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Jack up the 80’s — 10th of August – 11th of August

ack Up The 80s is renowned for being one big Summer party and that’s the true essence of what people love about it. Now there’s fabulous news for party-goers as this hugely popular event is broadening its appeal to allow for a richer variety of music.

Returning as ‘Jack Up The Summer’ in its traditional slot this August, this much loved family friendly throwback festival will continue to celebrate the upbeat, hand-clapping music of yesteryear, centred around party hits and feel-good music from the 80s and 90s. Organisers said; “We’re now into our seventh year and with so many UK festivals having latterly fallen by the wayside it’s essential we allow the event to evolve naturally, but without losing any of the fun-loving charisma which embodies the Jack Up brand and makes it unique. We want to be able to bring audiences a wider variety of acts however it goes without saying we still absolutely love the 80s and the 80s spirit will always be at the heart of Jack Up The Summer. In fact, the 2019 edition of the event guarantees 100% 80s chart acts on one of the two days.

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Things to see & do

Tapnel Farm

The perfect place for indoor and outdoor fun, connecting with and learning about animals, and enjoying delicious food and snacks with some of the best views of the island.

Jennifer’s Review : Tapnel Farm is such a family friendly place to visit, you can get hands-on with daily activities including the huge soft play zone, jumping pillow, pedal go-karts and so much more. We love to go along and meet all the animals and have a good hearty lunch.

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Strings Bar and Venue

A 300 capacity live music and performing arts venue situated at the heart of the Isle of Wight, founded and run by musicians for music lovers.Taking pride in hosting a wide variety of high-profile acts from legendary artists of yesteryear to current trending and touring bands from across the world. We are also passionate supporters of local and emerging talent

 

Getting here is easy, with the Island’s central bus station literally on our doorstep with links to all vehicle and passenger ferries, and parking available within short walks from the venue. Throughout the day we are the perfect hangout for any muso, coffee or cocktail lover who likes their beverage served alongside great music and a relaxed atmosphere.

Grace’s Review: I’ve been lucky enough to watch my partner play here on several occasions,  Strings is a great venue for listening to local bands, tribute acts and well-known artists. The staff are very friendly and the quality of sound for a small venue is amazing. If you fancy a chilled evening with a few drinks and good music, this is the venue for you.

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Monkey Haven

Since opening in 2010, Monkey Haven has rescued hundreds of creatures in need, from tiny songbirds to the mighty Siamangs. We’ve also won prestigious awards from Visit England, including a Gold Award, and we’re in the TripAdvisor Hall of Fame. This is a fun place. We make animals happy and people happy. Come and see for yourself!

 

Megan Baker Girls Review:  A charity close to our hearts (we sponsor the Javan Langurs).  The primates and birds are so well looked after and the long-standing team are truly passionate about the rescue and welfare work they do.  A great day out with lots to see, interesting talks, close-up meeting with some of the gang and a good café.  Lovely people, gorgeous animals – a great place to visit and support a good cause!

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National Trust

Some of the Island’s most beautiful countryside, amounting to some 5000 acres, is under the careful protection of National Trust.  From stunning rugged coastline to rolling chalk downland and historic houses, there’s something for everyone.  The Isle of Wight has a special warm maritime climate that makes it unique in the UK and the Trust manage their land so that wildflowers thrive.  It’s also a great place to watch birds – some of the best sites are on National Trust land (including the now-famous Bee Eaters!).  For squirrel-spotting on the Isle of Wight, then head to Borthwood Copse, where the population is thriving in carefully managed woodland. The limestone ledges off St Helens Duver on the Isle of Wight are one of the best places in southern England to go rock pooling.

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English Heritage

Delve deeper into the Island’s history, with five English Heritage sites on the Island you can discover what it was like to be Royal for a day at Osborne House or be on lookout at the castle keep at Carisbrooke. You can also discover how the Western end of the Solent was protected in the 16th Century at Yarmouth Castle and find out the history of the Worsley family and the masterpiece of Baroque architecture that is Appledurcombe House. Lastly not forgetting the “Pepperpot” or St Catherine’s Oratory, a Tall Medieval tower built in 1328 with great view from the south of the Island a lovely place for a family picnic and adventure.

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Robin Hill

One of the Islands favorite award winning attractions set in 88 acres of countryside there is something for everyone be it picturesque woodland walks or the downhill toboggan run. You can get lost in the maze and race you friends to the finish line and catch the daily falconry shows. After dark the park come alive with the electric woods – the woodland area and trees become magical with their special lighting and evening entertainment until 10pm Tuesday and Thursdays throughout the summer. If you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of the cheeky Red Squirrels that run through the tree tops.

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Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Step back in time as you take a trip on the steam railway in one of the carefully restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages and see some of the Islands Idyllic country side along the way. Hear the whistle blow and the sound of the tracks as the locomotive pulls away and transports you to another time. Take a look around the museum and Train story discovery center – if you are small enough you can raid the dress up box and pretend you are the one driving the train.

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Blackgang Chine

Overlooking the stunning South coast of the Isle of Wight and set in beautiful gardens, Blackgang Chine offers an enchanting experience like no other. Let your imagination run wild as you venture on a journey of discovery …. fighting pirates on-onboard your own ship, discovering life size moving dinosaurs and escaping from danger, being sheriff of your own cowboy town, rounding up the outlaws and locking ’em up – or experiencing the magic of being fairy princess in your own castle! Let your inner child go crazy!

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Eating & drinking

Hungry Bear

An independent family run eatery with Stuart the Hungry Bear himself at the helm. Open all year round providing high quality but honest breakfast, brunch & lunch menu and a weekly changing diverse specials board. All ingredients are locally and ethically sourced as often as possible and all food is cooked fresh to order.

 

Grace’s Review: The staff at Hungry Bear are so passionate about providing good honest food. They love a challenge when it comes to visitors with dietary requirements, so I was in my element, they will design anything on the menu to suit you, as long as they have some notice. The restaurant is dog-friendly as well so my little pickles could come along too.

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Three Buoys

The Three Buoys Restaurant is well known for its variety of dishes offered as well as its quality of service. They are a seafood specialist restaurant (but have lots of other options too) based in Ryde and can be easily accessed from anywhere on the Isle of Wight.

 

Megan’s Review: Set right on the beach in a first-floor position so a great place to sit and watch the ever-changing Solent outlook.  Brilliant service, imaginative dishes and a good vegetarian and vegan range.  I’m happy to drive to the other side of the Island to visit!

 

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The Tea House – Ventnor

Ventnor has recently welcomed the TEA HOUSE. to the food & drink scene with open arms. Since opening in July 2016 they have greeted visitors and locals alike to enjoy their cakes, loose-leaf tea’s and fine coffee.

Listen to the vinyl turning out classics and admire the fantastic artwork the family has created on the walls. The TEA HOUSE has artistic flare and a relaxed environment for the whole family to enjoy.

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The Coast – Cowes

Set in the heart of Cowes, they serve locally sourced, seasonal food in a relaxed and welcoming setting – all day, every day

“You can drop in for breakfast or a cake with a morning cappuccino, enjoy a hearty lunch or a three-course dinner, as the relaxed informal style of our Bar & Dining Room is designed for every day eating”.

The Megan Baker Girls Review: No matter what time of year we walk past Coast, it is always busy, that must say something. We have all enjoyed a glass of wine watching the world go by sitting in their window seats. The food served is always brilliant and they do a fab breakfast menu.

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The Piano Cafe and Mezze Bar – Freshwater Bay

The Piano Cafe and Mezze Bar, just a short stroll from Freshwater Bay, located opposite the famous thatched church of St.Agnes. They serve quality house blend Batista made coffee ‘Piano, Piano’, loose leaf teas, wine, beer, homemade cakes, nibbles and delicious sharing mezze boards and homemade specials. All food is lovingly made with the freshest ingredients and they use local produce where possible. They have live music at least once a week (Thursday, Friday or Saturday evening) And Piano most Sunday Lunchtimes. They are cyclist friendly with rails outside and they also have Free WiFi.

 

Megan’s Review: A little gem of a find! Set in the bohemian Freshwater Bay this is a real favourite amongst locals. Fresh and bright inside, the intimate cafe is great for brunch, lunch and dinner with live music most weekends. The menu changes daily and has innovative, simple dishes, specialising in fabulous mezze sharing boards. Classy yet friendly, a definite favourite of mine. 

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The Pointer – Newchurch

A warm welcome awaits at The Pointer, where Landlord and Lady, Rob and Rachel, invite you to join them in one of the oldest, most historic pubs on the Isle of Wight. Famous for its food, ales and friendly service, this was Fuller’s Country Village Pub of the Year in 2012 & 2013.

Plenty of pubs source local produce for the kitchen, but at The Pointer, they go one better. Their bartering system allows local growers, gardeners and allotment experts to swap their home grown produce for beer or food – then they use the fresh ingredients to craft their daily specials.

As well as landing the title of Fuller’s Country Village Pub of the Year Award in 2012 and 2013, they were also awarded the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence two years running. They have several Master Cellarman awards to their name too – maybe it’s time they got a trophy cabinet…

With beautiful views across the downs, their spacious garden makes a blissful spot to enjoy an alfresco ale. They’ve got a lovely heated pergola too, great for dining – and for those who really want to enjoy the Mediterranean lifestyle, they’ve got the Gallic game of Petanque too.

 

Jennifers Review: There is a very nice friendly atmosphere as soon as you walk through the door, I have only been on 2 occasions but both visits have been brilliant, the food was lovely and the staff make you feel very at home, I would highly recommend a meal here.

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Dans Kitchen – St Helens

On the south side of St Helens’ village green, with views across the Solent and beyond, this smart neighbourhood eatery opened in the summer of 2011. With chef/owner Dan Maskell at the stoves, and wife Carla out front, expect some equally smart cooking backed by affable personal service.

You could start with a pressed Moor Farm ham hock terrine with pickled vegetables and cider jelly, before sampling pan-fried local pollack with creamed potatoes, brown shrimp and leeks.

Desserts also combine comfort with innovation – witness orange cheesecake with rhubarb crumble and blood orange sorbet. That said, our best sellers are battered fish with triple-cooked chips, and locally smoked haddock with spinach and quails’ egg risotto.

 

The Megan Baker Girls Review: We have been lucky enough to have a fabulous Christmas meal at Dans Kitchen, the whole team did a wonderful job of making us feel very welcome. The food was perfect and the restaurant is in a lovely setting overlooking St Helens Green.

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Cantina – Ventnor

Cantina is a café restaurant, bakery and kitchen in the heart of sunny Ventnor, one of the Isle of Wight’s best-known towns for eating out. Cantina provides informal, friendly hospitality. You will find their door open any time of the day, all year.

Bread plays a very important part in their menu. Cantina has its own bakery, where bread and pastries, sweet and savoury, are baked daily.  “The secret is our pizzas are made by hand from slow-rising sourdough. Some of our customers have pronounced them “the best pizzas on the Island””.

Jenny’s Review: I have often made a pit stop at Cantina with the children, after a fun-filled day on Ventnor Beach. They offer a wide range of food options, and my children loved their cakes.

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The Taveners – Godshill

The Taverners is a real country pub that is popular with locals and tourists alike. They buy their produce daily depending on what is available at the markets, from the farms & what has been caught, foraged, shot or hunted. All their meats come from Island farmers all the time, the fish comes from local waters & they use I.O.W vegetables when they are in season. They bake our own bread & pastries daily & their local cheeses come from the award winning Richard Hodgeson of the I.O.W cheese company. All their chips are hand cut & triple cooked. They believe all of this gives them some of the freshest & best quality ingredients on the Island. They then prepare it simply and cook it only when you order, it takes time, effort & patience but they believe it is worth it.

They take their drink seriously as well, offering 10 wines by the glass, a selection of premium spirits, quality draught lagers & real ales including their own Taverners brew. Throughout the year they make some seasonal treats such as vin d’orange, limoncello & mulled wine.

 

Grace’s Review: Oh I love this pub, it has to be one of my favourites. Good honest food, cooked fresh and a very welcoming atmosphere. My top tips for going for dinner would be to make sure you book, they get very busy with holiday makers and of course us regulars. 

 

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Getting here

By Ferry

There are up to 200 Isle of Wight ferry crossings a day operating from Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington.

The main links operate for passengers into 5 different Island towns – Ryde, Cowes, East Cowes, Fishbourne and Yarmouth – the latter 3 services also carry vehicles.

Hovertravel, Red Funnel and Wightlink are the Isle of Wight’s Ferry Travel providers, running regular services from the south coast of England to ports on the north side of the Island. The Isle of Wight has no fixed link, so the only way to get here is by boat or hovercraft!

By Train

 

With great links to all of the connecting ferry ports it is easy to access the Isle of Wight by train from anywhere in the UK. Travelling by train takes out much of the hassle, and in many cases will shorten your journey time.

Average travel times from major UK rail stations to the Isle of Wight (inc Ferry journey) are:

London – 2 hours 3 minutes (to West Cowes)

Brighton – 2 hours 5 minutes (to Ryde)

Oxford – 2 hours 25 minutes (to West Cowes)

Bristol – 2 hours 46 minutes (to West Cowes)

Birmingham – 3 hours 25 minutes (to West Cowes)

Cardiff – 3 hours 40 minutes (to West Cowes)

Exeter – 3 hours 40 minutes (to West Cowes)

The majority of connecting trains to Isle of Wight are operated by South West Trains.

You can purchase joint train and ferry tickets, and also review train times and information on their website at www.southwesttrains.co.uk

For rail services to and from other areas of the UK check out www.thetrainline.com  or www.nationalrail.co.uk

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By Coach

One of the best value ways to travel to the Isle of Wight is via coach, with regular connections running from almost anywhere in the UK to Portsmouth and Southampton where Isle of Wight ferry connections are located.

Travellers arriving at Portsmouth’s “The Hard” bus station are a short walk from Portsmouth Harbour Station where the Portsmouth to Ryde passenger service operates.

Alternatively you can pick up the “Hoverbus” which will drop you at the Southsea terminal of Hovertravel to catch the Isle of Wight Hovercraft to Ryde.

Drop offs at Southampton Coach Station have a short walk to the train station, where they can pick up a free shuttle bus to their ferry connection to West or East Cowes.

There are also “all in one” tickets available, which include coach travel to the port, ferry travel and connecting bus service once you arrive on the Island.

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Flights

Whilst there are no direct commercial flights to the Isle of Wight, it is within easy reach of several of the UK’s key airports.

If you are planning on flying to the Isle of Wight from further afield, or outside of the UK you can reach it via the major London airports of Gatwick and Heathrow, or for a shorter connection time travel via the regional airports of Southampton and Bournemouth.

Connections to the Isle of Wight from Gatwick and Heathrow are available:

By coach or bus to Portsmouth or Southampton, where the Isle of Wight ferry connections to Ryde and Cowes are located

By train from airport stations with ferry inclusive tickets to any of the Isle of Wight ports at Yarmouth, West Cowes, East Cowes, Fishbourne or Ryde

By taxi direct to any of the Isle of Wight ferry connections

For flights into Southampton Airport you can catch the train from the Airport Station to Central, where you can pick up the free shuttle bus to the passenger connection to West Cowes.

If travelling via Bournemouth catch the A1 Yellow Bus Service from Bournemouth Airport to either the Bournemouth train or coach stations for connecting services to Isle of Wight ferries.

Private Flights

It is possible to fly private aircraft to the Isle of Wight, with airport facilities available at Bembridge (http://eghj.co.uk/) and Sandown (http://www.eghn.org.uk/) – please visit their websites for further details.

Getting around

By Foot

There are over 500 miles of public rights of way to explore on the Island, and although it isn’t the fastest way to get around it undoubtedly gives the best views!

Put your best foot forward and explore some of England’s most spectacular coastal paths and seascapes, you’re never far from a secret cove or enchanting village!

By Bike

The Isle of Wight was recently voted one of the world’s top cycling destinations by Lonely Planet, and an excellent network of cycle ways and rail trails links up much of the Island.

Within an area of just 147 square miles you will find over 200 miles of cycle routes enticing you into the countryside or along the coast.

Cycles can be hired from a number of different outlets throughout the Island and there are companies that are able to offer a delivery service, guided on – or off road guided rides.

By Bus

The main bus service on the Isle of Wight is operated by Southern Vectis, with 14 regular routes in operation connecting most parts of the Island.The timetable for this service varies throughout the day with buses to the major towns and resorts running until late into the night.

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By Car

Vehicle ferry services operate from Lymington to Yarmouth, Southampton to East Cowes and Portsmouth to Fishbourne.

The road network across the Isle of Wight is well signposted and many have outstanding natural views, however a number of Island roads are quite narrow, so take care when driving and be aware of other users.

By Train

The Island Line train service operates from Ryde Pierhead round the east coast of the Island, down through to Shanklin – directly linking with both Ryde passenger ferry services, providing a through service from London Waterloo.

You can buy a through ticket from London Waterloo to any station along the Island Line network which will include travel via either of the foot passenger ferry services.

The line is also operated by South West Trains so any discounts which apply on their network are also valid on the Island Line and connections.

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Local services

Schools

The Isle of Wight Local Authority has a 2-tier system of schools with 49 local authority maintained schools or academies which comprise 41 primary schools (for pupils aged 4 to 11);  6 secondary schools (for pupils aged 11 to 19) and 2 mixed-sex special schools (for pupils aged 4 to 11 and 11 upwards).  From the well-respected private Ryde and Priory Schools to tiny village primary schools, the schools are spread right across the Island.  Ofsted reports for the Island’s schools can be found here.

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Libraries

Everyone loves a library don’t they?  We are lucky enough to have eleven on the Island ranging from large purpose built facilities in our central towns to the gorgeous tiny Brighstone cottage library and even a mobile and home service for those unable to get to their nearest library.  There’s always lots of events going on at the libraries too!

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Vets

With all our beautiful countryside and great dog walks on our doorstep, it’s no wonder we are an Island of animal lovers.  To look after our furry, feathered and finned friends we have a variety of vets covering the whole Isle of Wight.  Ranging from equine and farm specialists, small animal heroes and even those happy to take on an IW zoo tiger, we are blessed to have some great animal specialists close at hand.

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Hospital

Based at the heart of the Island, with 246 beds and handling 22,685 admissions each year, St Mary’s Hospital in Newport is the main base for delivering acute services for the Island’s population. Services include A&E, the Beacon Centre (providing walk-in access to GP services), Emergency medicine and surgery, planned surgery, intensive care, comprehensive maternity, NICU and paediatric services with 1,338 births last year.

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Doctors

There are some twenty four doctor’s practices on the Isle of Wight covering all of the main towns and several of the smaller villages.  There is also a walk-in centre The Beacon centrally situated in St Mary’s Hospital in Newport which sees patients who have used the 111 service.

What is NHS 111?

It’s a new NHS telephone number to help make it easier for patients to access local health services. If you live in, or are visiting the Isle of Wight you can now call 111 when you need medical help fast, but it isn’t a 999 emergency.  You will be assessed, given advice and directed straightaway to the local service that can help you best. That could be A&E, an out of hours doctor, a walk-in centre, community nurse, emergency dentist or a late opening chemist.

You can ring the 111 number 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Calls from landlines and mobile phones are free

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