Isle of Wight

Introduction

Great Britain - Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight Landscape

The Isle of Wight is a literal “world apart” from the rest of England, separated by less than a mile of water (only a 15 minute ferry ride) it could be another country. Cross-crossed with hundreds of miles of country roads, the lifestyle is laid-back – very much in tune with the wonderful countryside.

Getting Around

There are many options about getting around on the Isle of Wight. If you bring a car be sure you book your place on the ferry before showing up in Portsmouth for the trip across the water. You can get around without a vehicle by using the very good bus service and the (limited) train service (consisting of old London Underground trains!). An even better option is to use a “push bike” (bicycle) to travel on the roads where there is very little traffic even at the busiest times.

There are many walking and bicycling trails throughout the area which offer a different perspective on the area. The trails are all well marked and maps are available from the many Tourist Information offices on the island. With the whole island being only about 100 km around the perimeter, it is easy to get from one side to another in a short period of time.

Free maps of some of the bigger towns are available from the tourist offices. Additionally, the tourist offices will also arrange accommodation (a key element on a busy weekend).

Attractions

The following are some of the things to see and do on the island:

  • The Garlic Farm - If you can't make it the festival you can visit the Garlic farm all year round. There is a large on-site gift shop featuring all things garlic as well as a restaurant featuring the same. They have regular tractor tours of the farm itself (for a small fee) which are well worth going on. If you want to try before you buy there is a garlic exhibition/tasting room. Finding the farm can be a bit tricky as it is along a small, narrow road and I would not recommend walking from the local bus stop (dangerous with the traffic on the road).
  • The Garlic Festival - Takes place every August and is a great day out. No, it is not just about garlic (though there is some interesting garlic ice cream)…Great music, loads of stalls selling crafts/food, exhibits along with demonstrations of falconry, etc.

  • Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary - A great place to get up and close to a good number of our four-legged friends. Not just for donkeys, the sanctuary is also home to ponies and the occasion horse. A charity, the sanctuary has a small gift shop, café and often offers visitors the chance to groom or walk the animals. Entrance is free but a donation is recommended.

Chairlift down to Alum Bay

  • The Needles Landmark Attraction - One of the key attractions of the islands, there is now a series of attractions at the natural needle-line chalk formations in the ocean including a (tacky) fun park at the top of the cliffs, a chairlift that takes you to the base of the cliff to get a better view, open top bus rides out to the cliffs overlooking the needles, and boat trips to see the Needles CLOSE up. A bit on the touristy side but still worth a visit (note that there is a parking charge but you can get there by bus). Phone: (01983) 725 401

  • Sandown - A short distance from Shanklin (see below), Sandown is an old English seaside town complete with pier and tacky attractions. A long sandy beach is wonderful to walk along on a sunny day.

  • Old Shanklin - Though small, “Old Shanklin” is worth a visit despite the tourists and the busy, winding road, that runs through it. There are a series of thatch buildings including several tea huts that, yes, touristy but rather pleasant to spend some time in. The Chine is only a short distance away and is also worth a visit (see below).

Shanklin Chine Waterfalls

  • Shanklin Chine - “Chine” is the local word for a narrow gorge and Shanklin's is quite nice (very small) with a lovely walk through the gorge and view of the small waterfall. The chine contains a few minor attractions such as a small aviary, a gift shop and small café. A fee is charged to enter the chine and if you are around when they have night openings, this is highly recommended as the colourful lights really bring the chine to life.

Further Information

For further information, please see: