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

Polar – Robin Hill, Running through November and December

Step outside this festive season and experience the thrill of a Christmas dream come true… Through frosty woodlands, twinkling lights and discovery, join us on an enchanting winter journey with a breath-taking FINALE like no other! The event finale is POLAR, a dazzling amphitheatre show that follows the magical tale of one boy’s Christmas dream come true, in a sensational dance and acrobatic theatre style production!

Christmas is just around the corner and booking tickets for POLAR needs to be at the top of your list! Make sure that you don’t miss out in the countdown to Christmas.

From 5pm-9pm lose yourself in this magical experience. Dreams really do come true… you won’t want to miss this!

WIN an exclusive family VIP prize package to POLAR.

Help Pippa the polar bear who is lost on the Isle of Wight! Archie and his family have travelled across the Solent with his favourite teddy, Pippa for an exciting holiday on the Isle of Wight. However, disaster has struck as Pippa was left on-board the ferry!

Pippa has magically come alive and is looking for your help! She knows that Archie was very excited

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Victorian Christmas at Osborne House

From turkey and crackers to figgy pudding and Father Christmas, the festive season as we know it today has its roots in the Victorian era. This December, take a trip back in time at beautiful Osborne and delight in a celebration of the perfect Victorian Christmas.

Surround yourself with good cheer as the sound of music and the smell of roasting chestnuts fills the air. Be captivated by Victorian toy makers as your children make toys of their very own to take home. Have a go at traditional games, take a ride on the carousel and marvel at daring jesters and their breath-taking fire shows.

After the excitement of our outdoor entertainments, head indoors, for Osborne will become Father Christmas’ home-away-from-home for the entire weekend. Join in an audience with the man himself, as he tells yuletide tales amidst the festive decorations of Osborne’s spectacular ground floor rooms.

In between, warm up with a tipple from our Christmas courtyard and choose the perfect gift from our stallholders. Grab a song sheet and sing carols as snowflakes drift in the breeze. A fast paced and humorous retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will have you laughing out loud, or you can huddle round to enjoy the Victorian tradition of Christmas ghost stories.

Victorian Christmas continues after dark as the festivities carry on into the evening. Gather to watch Father Christmas throw the switch on our festive lights, then gain a new perspective on the beauty of Osborne as you sip mulled wine and wander among the softly lit grounds.

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Southern Vectis Christmas Lights Tour – 7th – 23rd December at 18:30

All aboard for family festive fun – join the magical Christmas Lights Tour!

Dig out your winter woollies and experience the magic of Christmas aboard an open top bus.

Running nightly between 7th and 23rd December at 18:30, the annual Southern Vectis Christmas Lights Tour offers spectacular views of the Isle of Wight at night and visits some of the Island’s best Christmas light displays.

With the bus decked out in tinsel and lights, Christmas tunes playing overhead and Santa behind the wheel, the Christmas Lights Tour is the perfect festive night out for families, friends, couples, adults and children alike – a truly unique way to enjoy the Island at Christmas.

Journeying between the Island’s best Christmas Lights displays, the tour lasts approximately three hours with a couple of festive stop offs along the way for mince pies, hot drinks and other Christmassy surprises! Toilet break and drinks stop will approximately be at 20:00.

The Christmas bus will run nightly from either Ryde or Newport Bus station, starting and finishing from your chosen bus station.

Tapland Christmas at Tapnel Farm – Every weekend in December

Something magical is happening this December at Tapnell Farm Park with the opening of our new Christmas experience: Tapland …. in search of Santa.  An all-weather Christmas experience for children of all ages!

With immersive memory making around every corner, discover a new world of imagination where kids can be kids, and grownups can be too, making magical memories this Christmas …. in Tapland.

The journey starts at home, once tickets have been booked, with a personalised letter from Santa, who will be inviting children who have been extra kind and helpful to visit him in Tapland. But in order to find his secret home, they will first need to help some of his friends on the journey along the way!

This hour-long experience is led by a team of Santa’s trained elves who will fully immerse you in the wonderment of Christmas. There will be stories and interactive puzzles to solve, treats to enjoy and lots of amazing scenery … and at the end of your adventure you will meet Santa himself, who will know a lot more about you than you think!

And don’t forget, that as well as the Tapland Christmas Experience, you can also spend the rest of the day having lots of fun in the Farm Park itself – and take part in

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Guided Walk: Squirrels and Mince Pies – 20th of December

If you join our short gentle stroll around Borthwood Copse this Christmas, you might just get to spot something truly magical – a rare red squirrel. We’ll also explain how we look after the trees and woods to help the squirrels make their homes here. Afterwards there are even festive mince pies to tuck in to.

Suitable for all the family.

Donations welcome.

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New Year Yoga Retreat -29 Dec – 1 Jan

An opportunity to see in the new year at this incredible yoga retreat venue.

Log fires, warm company, blustery walks and inspirational yoga to start your new year in a positive, proactive way.

Stay in this five star accommodation, enjoy wholesome food and begin 2020 with yoga tuition from Emma Spencer-Goodier, a long established and much respected local teacher.

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Mothers Day Special at the steam railway – 22nd of March 2020

Give mum a relaxing treat this Mothers Day and treat her to a relaxing trip through the spring countryside.

Treat her to lunch with our afternoon carvery, being served between 12noon – 4pm.

Each mum will also receive a posy of spring flowers to make her feel extra special.

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Things to see & do

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

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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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


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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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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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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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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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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