Isle of Wight - An Ideal Island Getaway
Within two hours by car from our home in Bedfordshire, we boarded a ferry to transport us the short journey across the solent to begin a weekend of visiting pretty villages with thatched roofs that look like they are in a fairytale, joining a group of ramblers to view the island from a completely different perspective and to learn fascinating information from local people along the way, photographic opportunities galore from stunning sunsets on one of the many beaches to picturesque countryside landscapes that will keep any Instagram addict more than happy.
I have so many fond memories as a young child visiting the island with my parents and because neither of them drove, to get to the Isle of Wight was a real adventure. From the coach journey down to Portsmouth, the visit to Southsea funfair, where my father would take me up in the air on the 'Jets' ride, frightening the living daylights out of me, taking in Horatio Nelson's Battle of Trafalgar's flagship, HMS Victory at the Historic Dockyard and then boarding the ferry to the island. Once in Ryde, we would catch the train to either Sandown or Shanklin passing by the beautiful countryside along the way, before we would eventually arrive at our holiday destination. I can recall names such as Nodes Point and Whitecliff Bay, I'm showing my age now because this was in the 1970s but hey, I was so pleased to see that these sites are still on the island as we drove along the lanes as we explored the island.
Visit Isle of Wight had also asked if I would take over their Instagram account for the three days that we were with them, posting stories and videos as well as images to feature on their gallery...of course I was in my element.
I always find that visiting the Isle of Wight is like stepping back in time to a more sedate way of living. There seems to be more time here, no need to rush, take a step back and just breathe. It has a unique charm all of its own and I suppose this is what draws me back here time after time. You are on an island measuring 23 miles East to West and 14 miles North to South, so getting from one scenic location to the next just takes 15 or 20 minutes.
Our first stop was at Seaview, a small Edwardian resort overlooking the solent, during the summer months the village becomes a busy centre for sailing and watersports.
We drove through Brading, where the Roman Villa is one of the finest Roman sites in the UK, with beautiful Roman mosaic floors and a new visitor centre and museum. Sandown was our next stop with its long golden sandy beach overlooked by Culver Cliff. It was a pleasant surprise to see that the old bandstand had been redeveloped into a new restaurant with a unique glass upper seating area overlooking the bay.
The drive through Old Shanklin Village is always spectacular with the quaint thatched cottages, The Crab public house and Pencil Cottage lining the narrow meandering roads that take you upwards on to the cliffs and then back down to Ventnor. Here you will find one of the hidden gems to take refreshments... we always visit Steephill Cove, parking up at the road above and walking down the 'steep' incline and along the path until before your eyes this quaint fishing cove opens up in front of you. A cream tea at the Beach Shack with the waves gently breaking on the rocks below you, what better way to spend an hour?
Onwards to the West of the island where in my opinion you will find one of the nicest beaches. Compton Bay is a two mile stretch of beautiful contrasting shades of sand with the white cliffs at Freshwater Bay in the distance. I have captured so many fabulous photographs here using the reflections of the glistening beach at low tide, which also form natural ripples in the sand.
We finished our first day on the island making our way back around the north of the island to Ryde. This was the scene that we were met with as the sun set on a glorious day of adventure.
We stayed at the Warner Leisure Hotel in Bembridge, which is an adults only hotel. We had a beautiful sea view and balcony overlooking the solent. After dining in the Four Tides restaurant we watched the live entertainment show. On site there are bowls, archery, golf and beauty treatments available as well as a heated indoor swimming pool, steam room and sauna. We also had the Signature Experience of a generously stocked tea tray with fresh milk, delicious home-made cookies, a bottle of still and sparkling water, a bottle of wine, a wonderfully comfortable bed with a duo of soft and firm pillows and my favourite...fluffy white robes
The next day we had been invited to take part in the Warrior Trail, following in the footsteps of General Jack Seely and his horse 'Warrior'. This was a circular coastal trail on the islands south west flank. With over 500 miles of walking routes and 200 miles of cycle paths passing through woodlands, coast and countryside this really is a haven for seeing the island from a completely different perspective.
As part of the English Tourism Week 2018 (17th to 25th March 2018) we enjoyed some spectacular Isle of Wight scenery as we walked The Warrior Trail with Isle of Wight Ramblers and Bob Seely MP.
The walk started at Mottistone National Trust car park and followed the route of The Warrior Trail; a new trail created and published by Visit Isle of Wight in 2015. Warrior was the famous WW1 war horse that was trained on the Isle of Wight by General Jack Seely. Jack Seely’s great-great nephew Bob Seely who is MP for the Isle of Wight joined us on the walk.
We awoke on our third day on the island to snow, turning the island into the Isle of 'White'. I had never seen snow on the island before and according to the locals it is a rare sight indeed. So after breakfast we headed down into Sandown and Shanklin to capture this unique scene on camera.
Taking a holiday in the Isle of Wight is a reminder of the beautiful natural beauty that this part of south east England has to offer, with easy transport links from the mainland and the opportunity to get back to nature with superb walking and cycling routes allowing you to experience the stunning landscapes that can be seen here.
Our stay was complimentary. As always, all opinions are my own.