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.
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Things to see & do
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
There has been a pottery at Chessell on the Isle of Wight since the 1970’s and in 2003 Pottery Café moved in. The studio seats over 50 people and is popular throughout the season for visitors making mementoes of their visit to the Island and Islanders creating special gifts as well as capturing baby’s hand and footprints. The Chessell Café serves a range of tasty light lunches, much of which is prepared from locally sourced ingredients. We love their award winning ‘Island Cream Tea’ – home baked scones freshly baked each day with clotted cream and their own delicious strawberry jam, all served on hand-made Chessell strawberry pottery. Yum!
Eating & drinking
Nomad – Newport and Cowes
A couple of travelled chefs serve up their extraordinary interpretation of global street food in the heart of the Isle of Wight. Their menus are changing every week – sometimes twice a week. They are constantly seeking out new ingredients and techniques, and they’re right there to tell you all about the food you are eating.
We always recommend their famous Shut Up and Feed Me. How does this work? You pay a fixed price and they bring you the very best the kitchen has to offer – it’s usually from three to five of their main dishes, including some surprises you won’t get from the menu. It’s the best way to enjoy our food.
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.
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 Mess – Canteen + Bar – Cowes
The Mess-canteen+bar is set in the heart of Cowes and provides local fresh homemade food at honest affordable prices. The menu changes daily depending on the seasonal fresh produce that is available from local suppliers. The Mess is a place that can be enjoyed throughout the day serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. By night the fresh fruit jam jar cocktails have proved to be a hit with all ages, even the children can enjoy the non-alcoholic mocktails. Whether you are stopping by for one of their hearty breakfasts, mouth-watering lunches, award winning coffees and homemade cakes or having a jar with friends over dinner the mess-canteen+bar will provide you with a relaxing atmosphere and leave you wanting more.
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.
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.
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.
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””.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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