It’s been on my hit list of places to visit for quite some time. Especially every time the Isle of Wight festival was mentioned on the radio, I would muse to myself, WHAT IS IT LIKE OVER THERE?
At last, the opportunity to find out presented itself in the form of a family holiday. Cottage booked! Ferry booked! Are we nearly there yet?
We travelled to the New Forest and caught the ferry from Lymington, a lovely part of the country. Only a 30 minute crossing, we were there in no time. We stayed in the middle of the island which was handy for travelling all over the island. The Isle of white was rather enchanting and I would certainly like to go back.
The most memorable places we visited:
Quarr Abbey – there is no charge to visit this lovely monastery which has nearly 9 centuries of monastic presence since 1132. The architecture is stunning. It’s home to a small group of Benedictine monks. There was plenty to see including ruins of the old Quarr Abbey, woodland walks, pigs, art gallery, tea shop and farm shop.
Monkey Haven – a home for rescued animals. Free parking and tickets are valid for 7 days so you can visit many times. Animals include eagle-owls, gibbons and lemurs and meerkats to name a few. The keeper talks were scheduled every few hours and very interesting.
The Isle of Wight Bus & Coach Museum – free to enter but it’s registered charity and run completely by volunteers so you are able to buy a programme and contribute to the running costs. Really very interesting, the museum has a display of around 20 historic vehicles, transport artefacts, displays, photographs, a tea bar and a shop. You can get nostalgic and climb aboard many of the buses and coaches. They even had an 1880s Civility Stage Coach, complete with life size horse models.
Isle of Wight Steam Railway – we all enjoyed a trip on the steam railway. There is also a falconry bird of prey center on site, plus museum and tea rooms.
The Needles – a row of three distinctive stacks of chalk that rise about 30m out of the sea off the western extremity of the island, close to Alum Bay. It’s a breath taking walk to the closest viewing point at the old and new batteries, you can catch a ride in an open top double decker but only if you have a head for heights! Lots of kiddies attractions, some eateries and cable car rides too.
Osbourne House – a former royal residence in East Cowes. Owned now by English Heritage. A great day out. The weather forecast was dodgy that day so we started in the walled gardens outside whilst it was fine and then headed to Queen Victoria’s private beach. Then onto The Swiss Cottage before a picnic lunch. Then the rains came ☹. So we headed inside the house to look at the State Rooms and Family rooms. Lovely.
Rosemary Vineyard – one of the largest producers of English Wine. They have also just started making gin. Free tours of the distillery are available most days where they go through the winemaking process and the equipment used, followed by a tasting of the wines, juices, liqueurs, gins and ciders. Café on site too.
There are also several golf courses on the Island that I need to play – one day 😊