This week’s tour is still in the south and on the Isle of Wight. I’ve read about Wight before in romance novels but had never paid too much attention. Now, however, I think this place needs serious investigation.
Location: 4 to 6 miles across The Solent from the mainland
Getting there: Car and Passenger Ferries from Portsmouth and Lymington; Hovercraft for foot passengers from Southsea.
Getting around: The island is approximately 93,000 acres, 60 miles in circumference, has cliffs, woods and meadows so you’ll need some transportation unless you like to walk lots (500miles of well marked walking paths – including 67 coastal). The island has Cycle Hire, Car Hire and buses and even its own Steam Railway (http://www.isteamrailway.co.uk/)
Locations and Nearest Attractions
* Osborne House – Royal seaside palace overlooking The Solent where Queen Victoria lived with Prince Albert and their nine children. Osborne House offers a glimpse into the private life of the royal family and is filled with original furnishings and priceless artworks.
* Carisbrooke Castle – Crowning a hilltop south of Newport, this castle was the dominant defensive position on the Isle of Wight for more than 600 years.
* Newport Roman Villa – 3rd century Romano British farmhouse. Well preserved remains including bath house and garden.
* Yarmouth Castle – the last stone artillery fortress and most sophisticated addition to Henry VIII’s coastal defences was completed after his death in 1547, with the first new-style ‘arrowhead’ artillery bastion built in England. Displays inside the castle include recreations of how the rooms were used in the 16th century, and an exhibition about the many wrecks which occurred in the treacherous stretch of sea which the castle overlooks.
* St Catherine’s Lighthouse – situated at Niton Undercliffe, 5 miles from Ventnor. A lighthouse existed on the site from 1323, but the present tower was constructed in 1838 following the loss of the sailing ship CLARENDON on nearby rocks.
* Appuldurcrombe House – 18th century house set on 11 acres of ornamental grounds designed by ‘Capability Brown’
* Bembridge Windmill – This tiny gem, the only surviving windmill on the Isle of Wight, is one of its most iconic images. Built around 1700, it last operated in 1913 but still has most of its original machinery intact. Climb to the top to follow the milling process back down.
* The Needles Old Battery – Perched high above the Needles, amid acres of unspoilt countryside, is the Needles Old Battery, a Victorian fort built in 1862 and used throughout both world wars. The Parade Ground has two original guns and the Fort’s fascinating military history is brought to life with a series of vivid cartoons by acclaimed comic book artist Geoff Campion. An underground tunnel leads to a searchlight emplacement with dramatic views over the Needles rocks. The New Battery, further up the headland, has an exhibition on the secret British rocket tests carried out there during the Cold War.
The Needles and Old Battery –
* Brading Roman Villa – One of the finest Romano-British archaeological sites in the UK. The Exhibition and Visitor Centre contains insights into Roman life in Britain, from preserved mosaic floors to Roman archaeology, including coins, pottery and tools.
Need Somewhere to Stay Overnight?
Wight Mouse Inn, Chale – 17th Century Coaching Inn
George Hotel, Yarmouth – 17th Century Building
Arreton Manor, Newport – circa 885. Now a luxury Five Star bed and breakfast accommodation.
I haven’t found everything there is to see on the Isle of Wight yet. The place might only be a quarter of the size of Sydney Harbour, slightly shorter than Manhattan Island, NY (and significantly lower in population), but I’m sure I could spend a few weeks getting lost here. Maybe we’ll bump into each other.