A – Z of Locations: I is for IOW

During this year I shall be posting photographs from places around the UK, many of which have not been published before. Where I have previously blogged about a location I will provide a link to the post, though you won’t be able to comment on it as I restrict comments to six months.

I is for IOW – Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is a small island measuring 23 miles by 13 miles off the coast of Hampshire in the south of England. Regular ferry services cross from the mainland at Portsmouth, Southampton and Lymington. Passengers can also choose from catamarans and hovercraft options to Ryde. We went over for a few days break during August in 2008. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side.

West coast pier

There is a lot packed into such a small island from the busy seaside town of Ryde on the north coast to the quieter south coast. The Military Road which runs along the coast between Chale and Freshwater Bay was built by the military in the 1860’s as part of the defence of the Island.

South Coast where dinosaur fossils can be found

Also known as the Dinosaur Island it is regarded as one of the richest areas for Dinosaur discovery in Europe. There are picturesque inland villages with thatched roofed buildings, traditional seaside resorts, beautiful beaches and a botanic garden and miles of footpaths and cycling tracks.

Thatched cottages
The Needles is a row of three stacks of chalk that rise about 30 metres out of the sea off the western extremity of the Isle of Wight
The Needles from the mainland. The Needles Lighthouse stands at the outer, western end of the formation. Built in 1859, it has been automated since 1994.
Alum Bay is well known for its multi-coloured sand cliffs. The Needles offers a range of attractions and rides for all ages. No visit to The Needles would be complete without a visit to one of their entertaining demonstrations, where you can get hands on with fascinating glass blowing, sweet making and sand filling and take away a piece of the Isle of Wight you won’t find anywhere else.

On the north coast is the lovely town of Yarmouth with ferry crossings over to Lymington (New Forest). The historic port town sits at the mouth of the River Yar and contains some of the oldest architecture on the Isle of Wight, including a 16th Century castle.

A little further east is the Newtown National Nature Reserve with several bird hides which is a nice place for some quiet time.

Newtown National Trust West Bird Hide – a unique bird hide that feels more like home. Set on two levels, it has windows all around. Inside you can find books, chairs, binoculars and a lot of information about the local wildlife.

And if you like visiting historic houses then there is Osborne House. Queen Victoria and Albert bought the Osborne estate in 1845, and built a new mansion here as an escape from court life in London and Windsor.

The Italianate design of the house, in which Albert was closely involved, became known as ‘the Osborne style’ and was imitated throughout the British empire.

There are extensive grounds to explore including a walled garden and the ornate terrace garden which is a riot of colours in spring and summer. Take a walk to the private beach where Victoria and the royal children used to swim.

Complementing the magnificent Italianate ‘royal palace by the sea’, are gardens and grounds filled with breathtaking views.

The Isle of Wight has been known as a holiday destination since the Victorian era and it is definitely worth visiting.