- The Isle of Wight

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The Isle of Wight is accessible by a short ferry ride from Lymington, just south of the New Forest in Hampshire, docking at Yarmouth, or you can take a longer ferry ride from Southampton to Cowes/East Cowes. East Cowes is a more convenient location, being in the centre of the island. It's also the site of the annual yacht race. And the island's main attraction, Osborne House, is just a few minutes drive away.

Osborne House
Osborne House
Osborne House was Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's holiday hideaway and a favourite retreat. It's where she died, and the house is little altered since that time.

At Bembridge, on the island's east coast is an interesting windmill built in the 1700s, under the care of the National Trust. A lifeboat station museum is out at the end of Bembridge's long wharf. It's worthwhile for maritime lovers to spend some browsing time in. From Bembridge there's a scenic drive to the top of Culver cliff. It overlooks the village and Sandown.

At Ventor is a 22-acre garden that includes rare plants from Mexico, the Himilayas, and China. The Smuggling Museum is located beside the garden. Lovers of ruins will enjoy a visit to Appuldurcombe House (EH) at Wroxall.

Godshill Village Churchyard
Godshill Village Churchyard
Godshill village has a number of old houses, some of which are thatched. There are many shops for the tourist. Hidden behind the large parking lot is a good cafe. All Saints church is up a hill lined with attractive thatched cottages. It is the largest pre-reformation church on the island and dates from the 15th century. Shorwell is another scenic village.

At Carisbrooke the castle (EH) remains sited on a high hill were used as a prison for Charles I before his execution. Of particular interest in the castle is the old well with the wheel that was turned by donkeys.

In the busy town of Newport is a Roman villa, unearthed during excavations for a modern building. The historic Guildhall, designed by John Nash and built in 1816, houses the Museum of Island History and the town's tourist information centre.

Follow a long twisty drive to the Needles area, south of Freshwater on the far west coast. Here there's a battery with guns still in place. It was built in the 1860s as part of the coastal defence against the French.

Yarmouth Harbour
Yarmouth Harbour
The town of Yarmouth has an attractive square built near the harbour and lined with shops. Yarmouth castle, one of Henry VIII's, was built in 1547 squat and heavy as a coastal defence against the French. Shafleet is a scenic village as is Calbourne's "Winkle Street" set beside a stream and lined with thatched and historic cottages.

Sandown from Culver Point
Sandown from Culver Point
Much of the island is an area of outstanding natural beauty. Beach lovers will appreciate the four Blue Flag beaches. Allow four days if you want to see every nook and cranny of the island; two days will allow time for major attractions. The island has 500 miles of walking trails.


Destination guide and photographs by kind permission of Barbara Ballard of Destinations-UK

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