As a child I had a souvenir of the Isle of Wight that consisted of a glass lighthouse, filled with multi-coloured layers of sand. These cliffs are at Freshwater Bay, which is a lovely bay and beach to the West of the island.
My picture was actually in Bembridge (an area of the town called Forelands), to the far East of the island. Just as you are coming into town from Sandown you pass a sign to the Crab and Lobster pub, next to the Coastguard Lookout Station. Go for a drink and watch the boats below you This is a well known real ale and seafood pub.
A delightful beach opens below you; there are chalets with lovingly-tended gardens and little kiosks selling ice cream, but little else apart from waves and gulls and seaweed and cliffs...
Amazon world was created by Derek Curtis after a vist to the Amazon rainforest. Concerned by the distruction & devestation being caused there he wanted to raise awareness of how serious the situation is, Amazon World was born.....
There are many ecological facts here as you walk around, many birds, animals reptiles, insects, amphibians and fish mostly from the Amazon region of the world.
Talks about the animals throughout the day & also falconary displays near the front entrance.
Open from 10 daily, admission was roughly £7.00, cafe, outdoor Jarassic play area, plus gift shops.
The Botanical gardens sit on the site of a former Hospital for diseases of the chest, with the advancement in medicine the hopsital was no longer needed & finally demolished in 1969 after 80 years of use.
Originally called Steephill Pleasure Gardens, with the position of being under a huge cliff which created a warmer area Sir Harold Hillier decided it should be changed in to a Botanical Gardens. The gardens have not been without their problems, first with poor clay soil & then in the violent storm which hit Britain in 1987 & another in 1989 over 500 trees were lost. Which make what you see today even more of a wonder & achievement.
The impressive new colonial looking visitor centre houses interactive displays, toilets, cafe & shop.
The Gardens are split in to different areas, Mediterranean, New Zealand, Japanese, Americas, native flower meadow..... my favourite is the Palm Garden, probably becasue it reminds me of going abroad. The gardens are set within 22 acres of gentle slopes, there is also a good childrens play area. A large greenhouse houses exhibitions.
Admission is free (small charge for the green house)
Above Alum Bay near the Needles is "The Needles Park". From here you can get a chairlift to the beach below (£3.50 return I think) or you could walk the 188 steps.
Also there is a sand shop which is quite interesting & tacky tourist shops & amusement arcades. Entrance is free, parking £3.00. From here there are some great views over to the Needles itself.
The Isle of Wight is very proud of its association with the Romans & the time they spent here, there is evidence of them here all over the island.
At the Roman Villa are some of the best Roman mosaics in Europe, plus also an interactive centre & Roman Garden. Unfortunately the Roman Villa was closed when we visited, but check out there excellent website for more detailed information.
Around the coastline of the island are "chines". 'Chine' is a local word and now used only in the Isle of Wight and Dorset. It is of Saxon origin and means a deep narrow ravine, formed by water cutting through soft sandstone leading to the sea. The Island has a number of chines but the two largest are Blackgang, where very little of the original remains, due to erosion, and Shanklin, unique in the quality of its flora and fauna. With a drop of 105ft to sea level, and just over a quarter of a mile, the Chine covers an area of approximately three acres.
We walked from the bottom of the chine near the sea, where we had spotted men thatching the roof of a cottage, right up to the top leading out to Shanklyn village.
At the bottom of the chine is the Heritage Centre, with information, museum, shop and the inevitable tea room. Well worth a visit.
The town of Sanddown is typical of many on the south-east coast of the island and it is notable for its long stretch of easily accessible golden sandy beach. It is the site of the lost Sandown Castle. Sandown has been a seaside resort town since the Victorian age thanks to its sands and the sunny weather. Today Sandown Esplanade boasts some fine Victorian and Edwardian hotels which overlook the golden sands of the beach below. Sandown Pier hosts a large amusement centre with arcade games and children's play areas, typical of a sea-side resort. The pier is also good for doing a spot of sea fishing with designated areas especially for the keen angler.
Much of the land around the lower part of St Helens is countryside and maintained by the National Trust. By the Old Church are numerous pathways leading along the beach to Seaview, up the hill to Nodes Point and up to St Helens village. These walks are only short in comparison to other Island walks but you still take in alot of nature. In wooded areas you may get a chance to see a red squirrel or if you stay by the coast see the birds breaking open shells and snails to feed on. These walks may not be a highlight but can be anice break.
A well walked path leads from behind Baywatch cafe and crosses St Helens duver, a magnificent area of open land, criss crossed by a river and covered in wild plant life. From the duver you can cross over a causeway to Bembridge or cross the wooden bridge and ascend the hill to St Helens village.
This is the Swiss cottage located in the grounds of Osborne House. It was designed by Victoria's husband Albert and built for use of the children. The area is surrounded with vegetable gardens where the Royal children used to grow food which they would later cook and serve to their parents in the cottage. The other Swiss cottage just behind the one pictured was a museum where the family displayed all their presents given from foreign Kings, Queens and ambassadors. From stuffed birds to Zulu shields nearly all the gifts given to the children are displayed there.
To get there from Osborne House is a ten minute walk or two minute minibus journey. Not open in winter due to cost of keeping open.
Well, I admit I'm a little biased, in that I've never been to another festival on the Isle of Wight... but that aside, in my experience of festivalising, I enjoyed the Bestival immensely... at the time of (originally) writing, they will have just held this year's one which, disappointedly, I was unable to attend. And that would only be the 3rd one they've held so far.
The Bestival is the last major music festival of the season in the UK, won a 'best medium sized festival' award, and felt just right for a balance of music, activity, size (ie being able to explore as much as possible without being bored or feeling you have run out of time)... and most importantly, good F.U.N.
There is a fantastic dressing-up theme to the party, and last year we collectively won a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the biggest ever fancy dress party :D
Alongside a whole array of musical delights, there were many fine eating establishments setup for the 3 days - from taste-tastic crepes, to the ultimate chips (I queued for half hour and missed a lift home for these... 100% worth it), and churros to dip in chocolate, to name but a few.. lots of dressing up tents/cheap accessories and costume hire, naturally, and then of course there was the man-made beach with real beach huts, the huge teepee zone, the 24 hour sauna (yes, at a festival!)... and the yoga zone, hula hoop area, women's institute tea tent and inflatable church...
I could go on, but why not have a look for yourself at the websites I've mentioned below, as well as robin-hill.com, which tells you about Robin Hill Countryside Adventure Park - where the festie is held. I'd certainly go back to the Isle of Wight just to visit that park again!
I'll add a few personal photos, too, when I have access to the technology again ;)
Permission to use information given by the RN Museum in Portsmouth
and Country Life.
A secure investment
December 20, 2005
No Man's Land fort in the Solent proves a man's home can be his castle
The property values showing little sign of falling, the fate of one familiar property,
No Man's Land fort in the Solent off the coast of Hampshire,
is a timely reminder that the financial laws of gravity still apply.
The massive fort was built during the 1890s to prevent ironclad
French warships from bombarding Portsmouth's dockyards.
Massive granite blocks were cut and shaped on land, trans-ported on
barges and lowered into the sea to form a base for the fortress.
The upper walls were covered in thick armour plating, and internally,
the gun-emplacements were designed to absorb the heaviest barrage.
In the early 1990s, the fort was offered for sale by Knight Frank at a guide price
of £950,000, and subsequently bought and converted over a six-year period
—first to a private residence, then to an exclusive venue for conferences,
weddings and functions, at daily rates of £50,000 or more.
On May 11, 2000, this 'ultimate secure destination for business or
pleasure' was offered for sale in COUNTRY LIFE by FPDSavills at £10m;
100,000sq ft of accommodation included the converted lighthouse,
25 bedrooms, 6 bars, an indoor swimming pool complex, two helipads
and entertaining space for 500 guests.
Projected annual profits of £1m evidently failed to materialise.
An advertisement placed by Savills in COUNTRY LIFE (November 3, 2005)
invited 'offers' on behalf of the LPA Receiver, presumably on the basis that,
sometimes, what goes down can also come back up again.
This article was published in Country Life magazine, December 22/29 2005
These forts can be seen when you take a trip over to the
Island from Portsmouth or walk along the beaches close
to Ryde or on the 'Pompey' side. I used to hear stories as
a boy of how boats would go out the forts and use a horse
head as bait to catch conger eels. Fact or fiction these forts
always visible but steeped in mystery and had a very foreboding
look about them. Would be a great place to make a horror movie
alternatively, set the stage to write a ghost story.
Permission to use information given by the RN Museum in Portsmouth
and Country Life.
The Sea Forts
These sea forts were built to prevent any ship from entering
the Solent on the east without coming into range of their big guns.
* St Helen's Fort - privately owned.
* No Man's Land Fort - recently up for sale for £10,000,000.
* Horse Sand Fort - owned by the Ministry of Defence
* Spitbank Fort
I returned after 26 years to the Island and the
cream on the cake was a visit to the West Wight!
Brook Bay-Driving along the Military Road to
Freshwater Bay then onto to Yarmouth then back
to Newport and över to Arreton Downs where
we were staying on a farm.
Here is a view of Ryde from the pier.
This is the town where I grew up and is
steeped in history.
Any references on these pages from
the web I have permission to use.
Queen Victoria's hideaway on the island. Apparently the Queen and her husband loved the area so much on a visit, that they commissioned the building of a holiday home here for themselves.
Osborne House is reachable by bus and requires a good couple of hours to see the house and grounds. We went in August and expected it to be busy, but in fact it was pleasantly quiet.
It is a beautiful house, in the Italianate style, and you are able to go around a good many of the rooms, which still contain the Queen's possessions. The art collection, including paintings of the family, is well worth seeing.
We also had a startling experience of finding a tiny horseshoe bat caught in a spider's web, in the eaves of the Swiss Cottage. My husband has to rescue it as the spider was trying to wrap it further, and the tiny bat was shrieking loudly.
Apparently there is a successful breeding programme in the grounds, and a 'bat lady' came and took our little fellow off for some TLC. I'm happy to say that he survived his experience!
It certainly made our visit even more memorable!
We have just returned from a most excellent stay in this hotel, excellent in ALL respects. The...more
Stayed at the Cygnet Hotel 10th to 14th August. Hotel under new management; hotel rooms clean, with...more
High street, Wootton Bridge, Ryde, United Kingdom
Good for: Couples