Isle of Wight
With 2020 a write off, lets look forward to 2021 and the booking of our holidays for that staycation…
So to start my blog what a better place to start with than the beautiful Isle of Wight, a place I’ve called home since 2002, but has been deep in my heart since I was around 4 years old with family summer holidays here almost every year and then with my own family until we moved here, so welcome to the…
The Isle of Wight is a beautiful island found just off the south coast of England. Sitting in the Solent it is around 25 miles x 13 miles in size.
The island has played an important part in the defense of the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, and been near the front-line of conflicts through the ages, including the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Britain which I will cover in a blog another day.
So you may ask how do I get to this island and let me tell you that the quickest public transport link and taking approximately ten minutes to the mainland is the hovercraft operating from Ryde to Southsea.
This is a foot passenger service only and has been running since July 1965.
The resorts on the island have been holiday destinations since the Victorian times, known for its mild climate, its beautiful coastal scenery, downs and chines and seafront promenades.
With its well-conserved wildlife, high downs and some of the richest soaring cliffs and quarries fringed by farms and forest land to fishing villages and resorts its no wonder that The island was a chosen home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson, where Lewis Carroll had the inspiration to write his wonderful story of Alice in Wonderland and to HRH Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes.
Continuing on with the historical side of the Island, another excellent site to visit is the splendid Carisbrooke Castle now owned by English Heritage, it is an Elizabethan artillery fortress, once a prison for Charles I, a nice combination of attractions in addition to the fortifications, including a pretty garden, a walled walk with excellent 360 degree views and a 400 year old well drawn by a treadmill worked by a donkey.
Four donkeys are kept at the castle for public performances – don’t worry donkey lovers, they only work for a few seconds a day and spend the rest of the time in clover.
This is a must place to visit along with Blackgang Chine which had a reputation for shipwrecks, gangs and smugglers and to this day this swashbuckling imagery provides the inspiration for the Chine’s own theme park and the oldest amusement park in the United Kingdom having opened in 1840’s. Set on the cliff tops with stunning sea views and filled with a mixture of magical theme worlds, rides and attractions, you’ll find something for all the family.
Why not visit one of the many homes of the animals living in the Island, here are a few –
This all-weather recreation of the Amazon rainforest is home to over 200 species of exotic animals, featuring mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and insects, check out the cats, anteaters, toucans, parrots and free flying birds, walk along the riverbank and marvel at the fish and crocodiles in the water, the flora and fauna. Learn how deforestation threatens many of the species, step into the twilight and watch the armadillos, loris, sloths, owl monkeys, see the lemurs, the tapirs, meerkats and snakes, with a large Jurassic playground, the adventurers café and watering hole snack shack, this park is a great day out come rain or shine, and can be found in the village of Newchurch near Arreton.
Isle of Wight Zoo (now known as Wildheart Animal Sanctuary)
You might be surprised to find lions and tigers on the island, yet you can see them and lots of other animals looking quite at home in the Zoo, this family run zoo with a special interest in tigers and lemurs, is built within the ruins of a Victorian fort, which was built to guard Sandown’s coast. Part of the Wildheart Trust and cares for a variety of rescued big cats, all have come from a variety of backgrounds at different stages of their lives, but now have their forever home, visitors will also find many other animals including meerkats, monkeys, lemurs to name a few. Animal experiences are available for those budding keepers. There’s also a children’s play area, café and gift shop.
The Island’s award-winning primate rescue centers that makes animals happy – and people happy. A registered charity that cares for all kinds of wonderful animals, including whooping gibbons, cheeky capuchins, mischievous meerkats, birds of prey and many more exotic creatures. The mission is to provide a forever home for rescued animals and a wonderful experience for visitors. There are keeper talks and animal feeds throughout the day, play areas, stamper trails, tea room, gift shop, Wifi, full disabled access and a complimentary return within 7 days.
All proceeds from your visit will help support the animals you’ll meet. So swing by and visit them soon.
Set in beautiful countryside on the Newport Road, Yarmouth and surrounded by amazing views of the island and the Solent, Tapnell Farm Park is one of the Island’s biggest all-weather fun filled family attraction. There is just so much to see and do here, including pedal go-karts, jumping pillows, sledge slides, football shoot-out, a huge soft play area and much much more. Get involved alongside the keepers with hands on daily animal activities including paddock feeds, Meerkat talks, Bugs and Beasties, wallaby feeding and much more.
The Isle of Wight’s first outdoor floating aqua park measuring around 50 x 80 metres features a floating, inflatable course with a range of obstacles suitable for confident swimmers and fun lovers, there is a separate admission charge for the Aqua Park, (re-opening Spring 2021) For more information visit the website, www.isleofwightaquapark.com
Tapnell Farm Park accommodation and the amazing “The Cow Restaurant & Bar” can also be found here.
Lets also giving a shout out to West Wight Alpacas and a working deer farm just outside Newport has recently opened its doors to visitors, observe the 200 plus red and fallow deer on guided walks and drives of the 334 acre Deer farm.
And for the gardeners in us, no Isle of Wight break is complete without a trip to Ventnor Botanic Gardens, where plants thrive in the wonderful island micro-climate. With the magnificent location on the Island’s Channel coast, Ventnor Botanic Garden has a unique sub-tropical microclimate making it approximately 5 degrees warmer than the general British climate – making it Britain’s hottest garden! Set in 22 acres, with over 6,000 species of plants, shrubs and champion trees why not follow one of our many trails to fully explore the garden?
Take the Victorian Tunnel Tour out to sea or take the steps underground to our mushroom fruiting chamber. (Note! Tunnel tours and Mushroom Chamber tours are currently postponed as it is not possible for covid19 social distancing with a guide please do not attempt to enter the chamber until safe guided tours can resume.)
There is a well-equipped play area for young children and adults can enjoy teas, coffees, cakes and light snacks in the Plantation Room Café or enjoy an outstanding dining experience in the Edulis Restaurant, where much of the ingredients are grown in the Garden or sourced locally. They also have plenty of there own produce including jams, chutneys, cordials and even some fine botanic craft beers available from there own shop! which is open daily.
The Island has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat-building, sail-making, the manufacture of flying boats, the hovercraft, and Britain’s space rockets, annual music festivals including the Isle of Wight Festival, which in 1970 was the largest rock music event ever held.
On the island’s most western point you will find “The Needles” Landmark attraction, these are three huge, white chalk rocks, a truly unforgettable image guarded by a 19th-century lighthouse. Here you can explore the extraordinary, Jurassic adventure golf, Dino Jeep Safari, and New for 2020 is The Jolly Roger – purchase a super saver ticket for 25% saving on all attractions. Take a boat or rib and get close to the Needles Rocks, or Thursdays during July and August see the spectacular fireworks.
There is so much to see and do, whether you are into the historic side or just for fun then come on over and visit us, need somewhere to stay then find your perfect holiday accommodation in this beautiful island by using our search feature at the top of the page and “ISLE OF WIGHT”
If you have membership to English Heritage you can get discounted tickets to lots of wonderful places – five on the island – Osborne House, Carisbrooke Castle, Yarmouth Castle, Appuldurcombe House & St Catherine’s Oratory.
So lets have a look at each town or village in a little more depth starting with –
Sandown – Found on the south east part of the island, you will find Sandown Pier, a whole days all weather family fun in one! The Lost World Adventure Golf – crazy golf like you have never experienced before, Superbowl – Real ten pin bowling which is great for all ages! Magic Island – kids soft adventure play, A land of fantasy and fun, excellent place to children’s parties. For the adults Scruffy Jacks – Licensed sports bar with pool, darts; and if all that is not enough the back of the pier you will find The Dodgems, Snake Slide, Children’s rides, the middle of the pier houses all the latest in amusement machine, café and burger bar sandownpier.co.uk
Watch this space for more to come…until then click the button below and get more hints and tips with Southern England Travel & Fun TimesSOUTHERN ENGLAND TRAVEL & FUN TIMES