The Isle of Wight is right at the south of England - 91 miles south west of London and 4 miles south of Southampton. It is perhaps best known for its sandy beaches and ports and it has long been a favourite with the yachting set. The island is also popular with cyclists, walkers and families coming on holiday - the "bucket and spade brigade." It has been a holiday destination since Victorian times.
A visit to the Isle of Wight will bring back a nostalgic childhood holiday feeling. Many guide books describe it as "England in miniature." It is compact - just 23 miles east to west and 13 miles north to south. Despite its size, there is everything here, from golden sandy beaches to rolling hills to really pretty towns and villages.
The climate on the Isle of Wight is normally mild and gentle (although we had some very windy and cold weather during our week here). There are lots of outdoor activities on offer as well as 25 miles of clean, unspoilt beaches.
The Victorians discovered the island and built resorts here. If you enjoy 19th century architecture, you will see lots of it here. The island has a lot of variety - the scenery is ever changing, and each town or village offers something different. Queen Victoria loved it here and used to come with her family. It was at Osbourne House near Cowes on the Isle of Wight that she died. It was also a favourite place of Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens and other literary figures.
Cowes is the premier port for yachting in Britain. Henry VIII ordered the castle here to be built and now it is the headquarters of the Royal Yacht Squadron. The sea front and high cliff road have scenic views. Cowes is divided into North and East Cowes, separated by the Medina River and linked by a chain ferry called the floating bridge.
Shanklin has a lovely old village and Shanklin Chine - a fissure in the cliff where you can walk up to see a waterfall, is pretty. Ventnor is often referred to as "the Madeira of England" as it rises from the sea in a series of steep hills. It has a unique micro-climate which means that tropical plants can grow here. You can see all sorts of amazing things in the botanical gardens.
The West coast of the island was our real highlight. This was where we stayed - it is very unspoiled and has the most lovely scenery. A must see here is the many coloured sand cliffs of Alum Bay and the Needles - 3 giant chalk rocks.