Isle of Wight Travel

The image was breathtaking, that softly molded landscape on the horizon goose pimpled solid with millions of black, white and brown heads. And true or false I’ve never forgotten it. Isle of Wight island does not help you to forget it either. From the north as you approach holidays in Isle of Wight – it’s moored about four miles off the Hampshire shore to which it was once joined – the coastline has hardly changed in the last hundred years. Low clay-coloured cliffs topped with dark woods yield to multi-coloured farmland and the gentle swell of the chalk downland beyond. Even the landmarks are the same. To the east the high Victorian spire of All Saints Ryde – one of Sir Gilbert Scott’s best – and the Metropolitan-Water-Boardish campanile of Osborne House (Prince Albert and Thomas Cubitt in partnership), the French Baronial Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes holding the centre, and far to the west beyond the bird-haunted salt-pans and oyster beds of Newtown, Yarmouth castle and the Needles.

Like all islands, Isle of Wight – ‘The Island’, as the residents always call it, is touched with magic. Not the magic of remoteness – you are unlikely to be marooned or weather-bound there. Not the magic either of frowning cliffs and scurrying clouds – the Island is about as ferocious as a teapot – but the magic of the miniature, a Victorian miniature.

By geography, luck and the energy and foresight of those who care about such things’ the Isle of Wight is still largely un-spoilt. It is still possible to share a deserted village street with a sun struck cat, to walk the top of the downs with only the larks for company, to anchor for the night alone in a quiet creek and all this under a hundred miles from London.

The coastline is amazingly varied. Bird-haunted mudflats, luxuriant semi-tropical under cliffs, dramatically carved dazzlingly white chalk cliffs guarding a soft centre of tiny meandering little streams, meadow sweet valleys and gently contoured farmland.

Top Isle of Wight Attractions

Osborne House, Norris Castle, Newport, Shanklin, Ventnor, Yarmouth

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