Isle of Wight Events and Activities

Sailing

The waters of the Cowes were like an exciting golf course, full of hazards and rewards. It’s experience of the tricky, fast-running double tides in the western Solent and the treacherous winds that gives local yachtsmen a distinct edge over competitors. They get used to all the hazards – especially dodging approaching craft in the crowded water.

The island buzzes with regattas almost every weekend from the last week in April to the end of Sept. There’s a full list of these and other events in ‘Treasure Island’, Tourist Board of Isle of Wight guide. The most democratic and exhilarating is the Round the Island Race every June. In Cowes Week, the first week in August, the crowds make it impossible to find a berth anywhere on the north side of the island unless you are a competitor or have reserved one nearly a year in advance.

Yarmouth harbour often gets very full at weekends – if you’re not there by midday on Saturday, forget it. Moorings on first come, first served basis. Bembridge harbour can only be entered 2 hours before and 1 hour after high water, dries out at low water except for marina. In spite of this fashionable with yachtsmen – has its own class of racing boat, the Bembridge Redwing.

Isle of Wight Tourism Board produces a useful information sheet on sailing with lists of yacht clubs, chandlers, sailing schools, boat hire etc.

Walking

Walking is by far the best way to see the rolling countryside in the centre of the island and the beautiful downs and cliffs of west Wight is on foot. There is an outstandingly well-signposted and organized system of trails and footpaths for walkers – altogether 148 miles of footpath including a 60-mile path going right round the coastline. The Country Council has produced a series of excellent leaflets on the seven main inland trails and four sections that make up the complete coastal path. These include precise directions, details of places of interest en route. flowers, animals and birds to look out for and bus services that run near paths for those who only want to walk sections of a trail.

There are three very pleasant walks through Forestry Commission land. Parkhurst Forest near Newport has a great diversify of species of trees Brighstone forest walk leads out on to downland with splendid views, Firestone Forest between Ryde and Newport offers a short but charming walk down to the waterside at Forest Creek, lots of wild flowers.

Windsurfing

Windsurfing – with good beaches, strong winds and tides, interesting spot to try it. Couple of places give tuition – International Windsurfing Schools have two centres at Toll Road, Seaview and Littlestairs Slipway, Sandown Bay. You need to book in advance. They hire boards and wetsuits to competent windsurfers. Mustang Yachts make and sell sail boards and give tuition in Cowes.

Surfing

Best surfing spot in Isle of Wight is at Compton Bay during spring and autumn – not so many big waves in summer. Small surfboard or belly-boards can be bought from the National Trust kiosk at the top of the cliff.

Fishing

Freshwater fishing mostly in the eastern River Yar, good for roach, bream, perch etc. Trout only available in private waters, no salmon on island.

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