The Isle of Wight loves walkers. A favourite is to start at the Botanic Gardens to the west of Ventnor and walk along the coastal path and the undercliff towards Nitin, turning into St Lawrence - where the church is open and welcomes walkers with squash and biscuits. Then head north to reach the Stenbury Trail up on to the downs - where at Week Down the sea can be seen in all directions and you can imagine this is where Tennyson stood on his frequent walks there - then follow the paths back down to Ventnor. Reward yourself with an excellent meal in the art deco Rex Piano Bar in Ventnor with a view out along the coastal path you started on.
The Wightlink catamaran crossing to the Isle of Wight only takes 15mins, but stepping onto Ryde pier is like rewinding the clocks fifty years. The church spire piercing the sky, the streets stacked like books. Sweet shops, fish and chips, tea rooms.... Despite the Islands attempts to re-invent itself for the 21st Century with Dinosaur museums and two of the summer seasons best music venues ( Isle of Wight Festival and Bestival) it still retains its old fashioned charm. Days of digging sandcastles, the best sand at Sandown naturally, sipping tea, try the Cameron Tearooms in Freshwater, and for an ice cream to lick all others then Minghella’s is a must. Chase waves at Cowes week and Vampires at the Garlic Festival. Catch a steamtrain at Havenstreet and re-live that glorious bloomer waving scene from The Railway Children. Just don’t expect to get anywhere in a hurry, take your time round those looping lanes and seafront promenades.
The Island is bright and vibrant in the summer season but off season it becomes windswept and bleakly beautiful. Walking Tennyson Down, or down to Steephill Cove, for those who like their holidays wrapped in fleeces and hoofed with stout shoes. Enough bracing sea air to have a meal at The Spyglass Inn in Ventnor without needing to loosen your belt.
To quote Jane Austen, ‘She thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it the Island, as if there were no other island in the world.’ Pay it a visit and judge for yourself.
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