Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a favorite vacation spot of the wealthy English. It is known for its magnificent Victorian palaces, majestic temples, forts and beautiful nature. A large part of the island is occupied by nature reserves. There are 3 rivers flowing here – the Medina, the East Yar and the West Yar. The latter forms a fairly large firth on the coast – near Yarmouth. You can get to the island by ferry or catamaran from the ports of Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. Or you can take a comfortable hovercraft from Southsea.
The Isle of Wight emerged at the end of the last ice age. It was originally part of mainland Europe, but was separated from Britain by the Channel and Te-Solent straits due to rising ocean levels. The total area of the island is about 380 km². It has a diamond shape – the diagonals are approximately 40 and 20 km.
Popular towns and resorts on the Isle of Wight
Newport is the capital of the island, located in its central part, on the banks of the Medina River. An important attraction of the city is the ancient Carisbrooke Castle. It is known as the place of confinement of King Charles I shortly before his execution. The capital is home to the island’s main church, St. Thomas Cathedral, or as the locals call it, Minster-Newport. It was built more than 800 years ago. Near the city is another historical monument, but this time of the Roman Empire. This is Newport Roman Villa, a well-preserved Romano-British farmhouse built in 280 A.D. Animal lovers should visit the Monkey Heaven Safari Park, a center for rescuing wild primates. In addition to monkeys, there live meerkats, owls and many other exotic creatures. According to Tripadvisor rating it is one of the ten best animal shelters in the world.
The town of Ryde is located on the northeast coast of the island. The interesting stuff begins as soon as you arrive – there are usually lots of tourists gathering at the pier, enthusiastically watching the arrivals and departures of the hovercraft. It’s also worth paying attention to the local pier. It was built in the early 19th century and is now 681 meters long. Another historic monument of the Victorian era is the Church of All Saints. It was built in 1872 by Sir George Gilbert Scott, the famous British architect. There are several interesting museums in the city. The Isle of Wight Bus Museum and the Postcard Museum by Donald McGill, an English graphic artist and “king of the postcard. He is known for his powers of observation and extraordinary work. Beach lovers should not miss the magnificent sandy beach, which is one of the three best on the island. Hiking enthusiasts can hike the Isle of Wight Coastal Path, which runs through the town and along the entire Isle of Wight coastline.
Bembridge is a small village on the east coast of the island. Only about 3,500 people live here and it’s not very interesting on its own, except for a few historical monuments. These are Bembridge Windmill, a four-story windmill built around 1700, and a small old 19th century Holy Trinity Church. The village even has a small antique store, The Secret Garden, where you can buy some vintage souvenir trinkets as a memento of your trip to the Isle of Wight. Bembridge’s main beach is a great place to walk. Bembridge Beach’s shoreline offers great views of Portsmouth, Solent Bay, and parts of the south coast. You can also see Fort St. Helens, one of four fortifications built on the Isle of Wight in the 19th century on the orders of Lord Palmerston, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister.
East Cowes is a small town in the northern part of the Isle of Wight. It is visited by almost all the tourists who come here to admire the royal summer residence, Osborne House, built by the famous architect Thomas Cubitt for Queen Victoria. She lived in this palace for the last years of her life and died here at the beginning of the last century. In 1921 part of the building and the nearby chalet were converted into a museum. The East Cowes has another interesting place dedicated to the history of yachting, the Classic Boat Museum Gallery. Its exhibit includes various types of boats and workboats.
Seaview is a small resort that is very popular with tourists. It is located in the northeastern part of the Isle of Wight, near the town of Ryde. In this small village, there are many preserved old houses built in the Edwardian style. You can admire the medieval architecture on Bluett Avenue and Pier Road. They’re nicknamed “millionaires’ avenues” for the large number of luxury mansions. About a 10-minute walk from Seaview is Priory Bay beach, which is accessible only at low tide. It is covered with white sand and is great for swimming. The resort has its own yacht club. Regular regattas are held here, during which tourists can take part in traditional competitions on the shore.
Yarmouth is an ancient town founded by the Normans on the east coast of the Isle of Wight. The history of this settlement goes back more than 1,000 years. It still has streets built on an ancient suspension system. Over the centuries, Yarmouth has changed its face several times, but has managed to preserve a lot of historical monuments. These include the castle of the same name, the original town hall, rebuilt in 1763, St. James Church with a monument to Admiral Robert Holmes, and England’s longest wooden pier. It is now 207.5m long and open to the public.
A brief history
The Isle of Wight was part of the Celtic British Isles – the Romans called it Vectis. In the first century A.D. it was conquered by the Roman Emperor Vespasian. At the end of the IV century, the land was settled by the ancient Germanic tribe of the Jutes. The island was conquered several times by the kings of Wessex, Mercia, and Sussex, and they repeatedly attempted to convert the Jutes to Christianity. In the 17th century, during the English Civil War, King Charles I hid on the Isle of Wight. He lived here for about 14 months until his execution.
In the middle of XIX century there were races of the Royal Yacht Squadron. They were called the America’s Cup, after the winning yacht, and have since become one of the most prestigious in the world.
In 1901, Queen Victoria of England died on the Isle of Wight. In the middle of the twentieth century, Britten-Norman Islander light aircraft were produced here. This model became very popular worldwide and is still operated by many countries on short-haul flights.
What a tourist should do on the Isle of Wight
- Visit Quor Abbey. The Cistercian monastery was built in the 12th century and is on the official list of buildings of historical and architectural value.
- Admire the chalk cliffs of The Needles. They are located in the South Downs National Park, Britain’s newest nature reserve.
- Taste wines made by Rosemary Vineyard. It is located near the town of Ryde.
- Take a tour of No Mans Land Fort. The fort was built in the second half of the 19th century on an artificial island near Portsmouth.
- Watch wild birds at Alan Hersey Game Reserve. During high tides, salt water enters the reserve, forming a small lake overgrown with reeds.
- Climb Culver Down Cliff. It is a huge chalk cliff that offers a superb view of the English Channel.
Best time to visit the Isle of Wight
This region has typical English landscapes, but a much milder climate. The warm Gulf Stream defines the weather. That’s why there’s hardly any snow in winter and the summers are very warm and sunny, unlike other parts of Britain. Come and visit in April and May to see the trees blossom, the stunning scenery and wander the countryside as nature wakes up from winter. The air here in the spring gets up to +15°С and higher, but the water is still cold – you can swim and sunbathe on the beaches at the end of June. The tourist season ends in September and October, when the cold winds and frequent rains begin to blow on the coast.
Newport, the capital of the Isle of Wight, hosts the iconic Isle of Wight Festival, an annual rock festival. This event first hit the world in the 1970s, surpassing Woodstock in the presence of famous musicians and the number of spectators. Real titans of rock – Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Sex Pistols, The Who, Muse and many other, no less famous bands have performed on its stage. The festival is held in the Seaclose Park, and the most famous and popular British musicians come here to perform.
Cowes Week, one of the most prestigious sailing regattas in the world, takes place in the Solent each year. Thousands of yachts compete and races are open to both professionals and amateurs. Even if you don’t have any training or experience, you can rent your favorite boat with two experienced crew members and compete against other teams. In the evenings there are numerous concerts and parties aboard the yachts and on the shore – the atmosphere is always very friendly and informal.
Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a diamond-shaped island off the English coast in the English Channel. It is part of Southeast England, although administratively it forms a unitary county called the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is famous for its interesting topography, old oak groves and full-flowing rivers. It is often called “Little England” by the people.
Geography and climate of the Isle of Wight
The area of the island territory is 380 sq. km. Its southern shore is washed by the English Channel and the northern one by the Strait of TeSolent. The southernmost tip of the Isle of Wight is Cape St. Catherine. It is home to the lighthouse of the same name.
Like much of England, the Isle of Wight has a temperate continental climate, influenced by the warm North Atlantic Current. January is the coldest month (+6°C), while July is the warmest (+17°C).
History of the Isle of Wight
According to scientists, at the end of the Ice Age, the level of the world’s oceans rose. This resulted in the formation of the Channel and Te-Solent straits, which cut off the Isle of Wight from Great Britain and mainland Europe. At first it was part of the Celtic British Isles. In the 1st century A.D. it was invaded by the Romans, who ruled until the early 5th century. In the period from 530 to 685 it was ruled alternately by the kings Kerdick, Wulfher and Cadwalla.
A special role in the history of the Isle of Wight was played by the Royal Yacht Squadron Regatta. It was held in 1851 and was among the most prestigious regattas in the world. In 1901, Queen Victoria died at Osborne Castle in the north of the Isle of Wight.
Attractions and attractions on the Isle of Wight
One of Britain’s sunniest destinations is also an important tourist destination. In addition, the Isle of Wight is famous for its mild warm climate, recommended for respiratory and circulatory ailments. But tourists do not come here just to enjoy the peace and clean sea air. The Isle of Wight has a large number of attractions. Among them:
- The 30-metre high chalk cliffs of Needles in Alam Bay;
- The 108km Coast Path;
- Culver Cliffs;
- Carisbrooke Castle, 11th century, founded by William the Conqueror;
- Yarmouth Castle, built in 1547;
- Sandon and Shanklin Houses, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries; 1323, thought to be Britain’s oldest medieval lighthouse;
- St. Lawrence and St. Thomas churches;
- St. Catherine’s Chapel;
- Quarr Abbey (20th century);
- Fort Victoria (1850); (1845-1851), which is used as Queen Victoria’s family museum;
- a memorial to the poet Alfred Tennyson.
Among outdoor enthusiasts, the Isle of Wight is famous for the Yarmouth Yachting Center and Blackgang Chine Amusement Park. Visitors with children can visit the Dinosaur Museum or see a scaled-down model of Godshill Village.
Since 1968, the Isle of Wight has hosted an annual music festival attracting up to 600,000 people. Since 2004 the Isle of Wight has played host to another music event, the Bestival.
Hotels on the Isle of Wight
Beautiful nature, rich history and music festivals attract a huge number of tourists. The Isle of Wight hotels are small but cozy Victorian mansions. The most popular of these are:
- Mimosa Lodge;
- The Wight;
- Luccombe Manor;
- Travelodge Ryde.
The Isle of Wight hotels offer comfortable rooms, free parking and Internet access. Rates start at $33.
Isle of Wight Restaurants
The island’s cuisine has been influenced by many different cultures. Now you can find establishments here that offer an assortment of Indian, Chinese, British, and Italian dishes. The most famous restaurants on the Isle of Wight are considered to be:
- Thai Mukda;
In addition to different national cuisines, you can also enjoy seafood, fresh baked goods, desserts, pizza and steaks.
Shopping on the Isle of Wight
The shopping hotspots on the British Isle include Newport, Shanklin, Ryde, Totland and Sundown. There are whole shopping districts with souvenir stores and branded boutiques. But you can also buy basic necessities in outlying areas.
You can buy souvenirs on the Isle of Wight in the stores:
- Oasis – home furnishings;
- The Little Isle of Wight;
- The Rock;
- Alum Bay;
- Make It Wight.
There are also stores for Christmas goods, farm products, appliances, cosmetics, ceramics, and antiques.
Transport on the Isle of Wight
The island area is connected with the coast of Great Britain by ferries, which are formed in Southampton, Gosport, Lymington. There is no airport on the Isle of Wight. Nor is there a developed rail service.
You can travel between the towns of the Isle of Wight by car and bus. The largest carrier is the company Southern Vectis, buses which are painted green. While vacationing in coastal towns, you can rent a yacht or boat for a boat trip.
How do I get to the Isle of Wight?
It’s located in the far south of England. It is separated from the coast by 5-8 km. A map of the UK shows that the distance between the Isle of Wight and London is approximately 120 km. It can be covered by public transport in 4 hours. However, you will need to take a ferry part of the way. South Western Railway train leaves from London Waterloo station every day. It goes to Portsmouth, where you change to a Hoverbus. Take it to Southsea Hoverport then change to the ferry which takes about 10 minutes to your destination.
The distance between the capital of England and the Isle of Wight by car takes just over 3 hours. To get there by car, drive south west along the A3.