The best walks in the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is such a small space, yet the geology and landscape changes dramatically in different areas. There’s wildlife that just can’t be seen in our bigger cities and towns, and frequent stunning views; of open sea or even back to the mainland. Here are our top suggestions for walking the island and taking in those wonderful views.

Tennyson Trail – Carisbrook to Alum Bay

14 miles – 6 hours

Starting in Carisbrook and ending in Alum Bay, this walk is very hilly but offers some fantastic views along the way. The route takes walkers through Brighstone Forest, and emerges onto Brighstone Down, where you can see the whole length of the island on a good day. The route then takes you over Mottistone Down, Brook Down and then Afton Down. You’ll then hit Freshwater Bay and walk along Tennyson Down, where you’ll meet the Tennyson Monument. You are essentially walking west from the middle of the island, so there’s quite a sense of achievement once the route is finished!

Coastal Path Pub Walk – St Lawrence to Sandown

7 miles – 3.5 hours

A much easier walk – and not just because there’s quite a few pubs to break up the journey. This trail passes through Ventnor and Bonchurch, before finally reaching the Victorian promenades of Shanklin and Sandown. The Spyglass Inn, The Bell or The Millbay are some pubs passed in Ventnor, and the Bonchurch Inn is reached once you’re in (you guessed it!) Bonchurch. Bonchurch also has some historic value, with an ancient church that’s still standing. Once you’ve followed the trail to Appley Beach, there’s another pub waiting – the Fishermans Cottage. Once you’ve headed towards Shanklin Chine, you’ll hit the Chine Inn. You’re not far from the finish once you’re here, simply head towards Sandown, where there’s plenty of places to eat or grab another drink.

Waterside Whippingham

4.4 miles – 1-2 hours

Starting in the village of Whippingham, which became part of Queen Victoria’s estate and subsequently pretty much rebuilt, this walk takes you through the village and onto the banks of the River Medina. In Whippingham you’ll pass the Priory School, where children were educated from the estate in Victorian times. You could stop at the Folly Inn to begin your journey with a bite to eat and a drink. Alongside the riverbanks you’ll pass the the Ryde Queen, which was the last paddle steamer to depart from Portsmouth to the island. It’s a lovely little walk along the riverside, and finishes in Newport, with options to grab a bus, stop for some food or just to explore the town.

Butterfly Walk

5 miles – 2 hours

This is a great walk to discover the wildlife that the island has to offer. The variety of butterflies that can be spotted along the way is hard to beat. The trail starts in Afton car park, which is a great place to find blues, you’ll then walk through the golf course to reach the Tennyson Trail. After heading eastwards along the crest of Compton Down, the dark green fritillary can regularly be spotted. After following the route to Compton Combe, you’ll be able to spot more blues, and finally graylings, green hairstreaks and small blues at the end point of your journey.

Isle of Wight Coastal Path

71 miles – 3-7 days

Definitely not one for the faint of heart, this is ideal for those who are wanting to make a whole holiday out of their passion for walking. It is possible to walk around the whole island in as little as 3 days, however that isn’t really feasible for most people, and might take some of the fun out of the walk! The route can be split into 9 sections, which make for a nicely paced 7 day trip. Especially if you know you’ve got a cosy cottage to come back and relax in! You can start from any point on the island, and go in any direction, but we would definitely recommend checking multiple sources of information to guarantee you’ll be able to pass through certain areas. We’ve found a brilliant resource to help you get started – which can be found here. And, if you do walk the island we’d love to hear from you!

The best walks in the Purbecks

The Purbecks are a brilliant area for walking; whether you’re looking for something short and easy, or longer and more strenuous, there’s plenty of walks to keep you busy. Due to the nature of the area, most of the walks are relatively hilly so we’d recommend checking out your route fully before embarking. And of course, please stick to public footpaths and away from livestock!

Swineham and the Piddle

3 ¼ miles – 1 ¾ hours

This walk will take you around Wareham and to Swineham, which in old English means ‘where the swine are kept.’ There’s no pigs here now, but there is lots to keep you interested including the salt marshes, reedbeds and mudflats of Poole Harbour. You’ll then be able to follow the route back through grassland and woodland, and eventually ending up in Wareham. Click here to find out more.

Acton and Langton Matravers ‘Quarrymans Way’

1 ½ miles – 1 hour

This is another circular walk, starting in the village of Acton and taking in Langton Matravers. The walk highlights the days that the local population was heavily made up of quarrymen, and is full of interesting historical tidbits. This walk provides a chance to imagine what life would have been like in Purbeck 100 years ago, and the brochure (found here) gives some really interesting bits of information, and is interesting enough to keep children entertained as well.

Studland Round Walk

4 ½ miles – 2 hours

Starting in Studland village and taking its walkers round and up onto Ballard Down, before heading across to Old Harry Rock and back towards Studland, this route is hilly but worth it for some incredible views. The views change from the sea at Poole Harbour and back across to ‘the mainland’, to Swanage Bay, hills and countryside. The views from Old Harry Rock are also pretty spectacular. It’s worth grabbing a drink or a bite to eat in The Bankes Arms in Studland, you’ll need some fuel!

Kingston to Corfe ‘Commoners Way’

5 ½ miles – 3-4 hours

This route highlights the lives of ‘commoners’ who worked the land in Purbeck for hundreds of years. This walk is another hilly one, but because of this you’ll get some amazing views all the way along the route. The path does get a bit tricky in some spots, so this definitely isn’t a good one for those with lower mobility. We’d recommend stopping in Corfe village for a drink at the Greyhound before making your way back through Corfe Common. There is a wide range of wildlife that loves the Common, so be sure to watch out for wild chamomile, damselflies and bluebells in the Spring.

The Purbeck Way

27 ¾ miles – 15 hours

This is definitely not one for the faint hearted, but the Purbeck Way walk takes in the best of the Purbeck countryside and coastal areas. It can be split into several shorter, more manageable walks, or can be walked in one go. The scenery changes constantly as you walk; from the town of Wareham and it’s historic Saxon walls, to the river Frome, heathland, woodland and the stunning Jurassic Coast. There’s definitely an unbeatable sense of achievement once the route has been completed, even if you do nothing else but eat, drink and sunbathe for the rest of your holiday! Detailed directions (and information about the smaller, circular routes) can be found here.

Where to eat on the Isle of Wight

The White Lion Arreton 01983 528479

An old coaching inn with good food and friendly service, set in a relaxed atmosphere and lovely surroundings.

The Band Stand Sandown 01983 406875

A café restaurant on the seafront with lovely sea views. The historic bandstand was repurposed into this beautiful cafe, which is good for coffee and pastries, light lunches and special occasion meals.

Continue reading “Where to eat on the Isle of Wight” »

Apse Manor Forge Pond and Garden 2017

There is a new photo of Apse Manor Forge showing the front courtyard, the hanging baskets and the fish pond. Apse Manor Forge also has a beautiful garden to the rear of the cottage with lawns and beds of lavender but this front courtyard is the view we see when we first arrive at the cottage as part of a holiday on the Isle of Wight.

The grounds and gardens of Apse Manor Forge Cottage are lovingly tended to and are a beautiful place to relax as part of a self catering holiday on the East of the Isle of Wight. Although the cottage is within a short walk or cycle ride of the beach at Shanklin, this rural location is peaceful and calming and seems miles away from the bustle of normal life.

For more photographs, including photographs of the gardens and surrounding areas visit Apse Manor Forge Self Catering Isle of Wight

Outside Photo of Westview 2017

Westview Cottage in Shorwell Isle of Wight has a new outside photo showing its location at the heart of the village. Shorwell is a lovely rural and peaceful location with a small post office and a village pub. Westview is also within a short distance of the coastal bays and beaches along the South West of the Isle of Wight.

The neighbouring village to Shorwell is the larger Brighstone where there are a choice of places to eat and an excellent village shop.

For more new photos as well as a full description, prices, availability and much more visit Westview Cottage Isle of Wight

Barn Whitwell Cottage Available for 2017

The Barn Whitwell is now available for holidays in 2017. This cottage has only recently released dates for the summer holidays and the rest of the year and therefore there is still some availability for busy holiday dates.

This period cottage is located in the village of Whitwell and within a short drive or pleasant walk of Ventnor. The cottage is also within walking distance of Godshill where there are shops and a choice of pubs.

The village of Whitwell is in an excellent walking and cycling area as well as having excellent access to the coast on both the South East and South West of the Island. In the village there is an excellent public house, numerous traditional thatched cottages and a historic church.

For more information visit The Barn Whitwell Isle of Wight

Best places to eat on the Isle of Wight (with incredible views!)

Hillside Restaurant

If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a meal for a special occasion, then look no further than Hillside. Its position perched on a hilltop near Ventnor mean that the sea views offered are panoramic, and you can also take in the surrounding woodland and vegetable garden. The woodland and garden are a hotspot for wildlife, and the garden produces many of the ingredients used in the meals. The rest of the ingredients are locally sourced where possible, and the decor features art from various local artists, as well as those from further afield. The food is described as ‘French Cuisine dining with a Scandinavian twist’ and has rave reviews on TripAdvisor. We’d definitely recommend booking ahead, as they owner’s state ‘we cook for those who book’ which means you can be sure of freshly made food.

Three Buoys

This family-run gem is situated in Appley Park, and has panoramic views of the Solent back across to the mainland, as well as the beaches at Ryde. With an experienced team leading the restaurant, the food served is of a really high quality and is really well presented. The description on their website states the food is ‘elegant with big flavours’ and the TripAdvisor reviews seem to agree. Three Buoys also offers extensive, well thought-out vegan and vegetarian options as well, which can be tricky to find! The focus is on fresh seafood, and they even offer Moules Frit Fridays, with fresh mussels, lemon salted chips, garlic ciabatta and a glass of sauvignon blanc for £14, every Friday.

The Bandstand Cafe Restaurant

The Bandstand has been lovingly restored from an old bandstand which was put up for sale by the council, and although it’s traditional features have been kept, the new owners have also added modern finishes. An example would be the upper seating area, with large glass windows to allow the view to be appreciated. If you’re a boat lover, this is one of the best places to watch the boats going backwards and forwards across Sandown Bay and the Channel. There are menus for brunch, lunch and dinner, which means that whatever time of day you go, you will be able to choose from a wide selection of options. The decor is really well done and has kept original features such as wooden beams, and the building itself was awarded the IOW Conservation Award in 2016.

The Bargeman’s Rest

This traditional pub is set smack bang next to the River Medina, which gives it a different kind of view from the other restaurants on our list. Offering good, honest pub grub and fantastic portion sizes, The Bargeman’s Rest is the perfect place to relax and unwind. Newport, being the county town of the island, is a great place to explore the shops before heading here as well, so why not make a day of exploring this area of the island? The interior is characterful and traditional; think wooden floors and boating paraphernalia. And, there’s live music to enjoy most nights of the week, which definitely makes this place a must-visit whilst on holiday.

Off the Rails

This restaurant opened in 2014 on the site of the historic Yarmouth railway station. The restaurant offers views of the nearby countryside and the river, which makes it a particularly picturesque place to enjoy a bite to eat. Off the Rails offers extensive breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, as well as cocktails and a variety of other drinks. If you’re taking your dog on holiday, this is a great place to visit, as they also offer dog food and even doggie ice cream! The restaurant has been tastefully decorated with railway themed interiors, and the old platform has become the outdoor seating area. The signal box has become a bird-watching hide as well, so you can get even closer to the surrounding countryside. The food offered includes a variety of meat and fish dishes, and there is a good selection of vegetarian and vegan meals as well.

Where to spot wildlife in the Purbecks

Dorset as a county is massively geologically diverse and indeed, ancient. With the spectacular Jurassic Coast detailing the history of the land, there is a wide variety of nature reserves, sites of special interest and plenty of fields across the county. Focussing mainly on the Isle of Purbeck, we wanted to suggest a few places where you could find some pretty interesting and rare species of bird, insect and fauna.

Arne Nature Reserve

This reserve, managed by the RSPB, is a stunning mixture of heathland and ancient woodland. Arne is situated near Wareham and Corfe, as well as being within a close drive of Swanage, Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers. The reserve sits within Poole Harbour (have a look on Google Maps to see what we mean!) which means you’ll be able to spot a variety of wading birds and those that love the water, however you’ll also be able to see some birds of prey as well. The reserve itself has plenty of walking trails, including some guided walks, a car park, cafe and a shop.

Studland and Godlingston Heath Nature Reserve

Every single reptile that is native to the UK can be found here, which makes this site so unique. The heath has an extremely varied geology, and has many different types of habitat, which unusually makes it a very inhospitable place. Because of this however, the plants and wildlife which do survive are of a much higher interest. You’ll also spot Agglestone Rock, which is said to have been thrown from the Needles by the devil and has landed in the heathland. Even if the devil himself didn’t through the rock, it’s pretty interesting as it’s not made up of the same material as the soil underneath; which begs the question, how did it get there?!

Brownsea Island

This island is the largest that sits within Poole Bay. As much as it might not technically form part of the Purbecks, it is extremely easy to get to and definitely worth a visit. You can take the chain ferry from Studland across to Sandbanks, and then take the yellow boat from Sandbanks to the island. Still home to numerous red squirrels, the island is also home to deer, lizards, minotaur beetles and peacocks. The northern half of the island is a dedicated nature reserve and has multiple bird hides overlooking the lagoon, lake and reed bed. Most famous for being the birthplace of the scouting movement, Brownsea Island was passed backwards and forwards between wealthy residents and now has many amenities and a full-time population of around 30.

Blue Pool

So called for the colour created by diffracting particles of fine clay within the water, Blue Pool is a flooded, disused clay pit. It’s near Furzebrook, and is easy to get to from Swanage and Corfe Castle. It’s surrounded by 25 acres of heath, woodland and gorse which make a wonderful habitat for many creatures such as; rabbits, badgers, foxes, deer and dragonflies. If you’re lucky, you might also see sand lizards and smooth snakes. There is a cafe at the sight, as well as a museum and gift shop. There are two clear paths around the pool, with one being suitable for most, and another perfect for wheelchair users or those with lower mobility.

Oakers Wood and Bog

This little known area is a beautiful mix of habitats. An open heath with wet bog and woodland, the area is home to the raft spider, damselflies, the sand lizard, smooth snakes, grasshoppers and crickets. The best way to explore is to park at Culpeppers Dish and walk down to Oakers. At the bottom of the hill, the road divides and goes one way to the bog and the other to the woodland. Explore both sides to get the full interest of the area. There are defined paths however very few other facilities, so this might not be the best area to take the kids.

Nature of Dorset has been a massively helpful resource in putting together this article, check out their website for as much nature information about Dorset as you could want!

Places to eat in the Purbecks with incredible views

The Cabin, Swanage

This outdoor cafe is a seasonal treat for those visiting Swanage, as it only pops up during the Summer. It’s situated along the private end of the beach, though anyone is allowed to walk down and take a seat. The menu offers a variety of fresh seafood and light bites, as well as a selection of drinks to wash it all down. The cafe has an adjoining shop where you can purchase beach equipment, which can be enjoyed on the beach in front of the cafe. The views are lovely, going from Bournemouth to your left, the Isle of Wight directly in front and Swanage itself to the right.

Shell Bay, Studland

This restaurant is set slightly back from the road to the Studland ferry crossing, but this does not get in the way of the view across to Brownsea Island and the other smaller islands in the water, as well as the heathland at Studland. It’s primarily a seafood restaurant and offers a wide selection of seafood, as well as some other choices, such as steak and Gnocchi. The restaurant has brilliant reviews on TripAdvisor and is extremely easy to get to, so is definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The Scott Arms, Kingston

A traditional countryside pub, The Scott Arms has possibly the best setting possible! It’s nestled in the Purbeck hills in Kingston, and has stunning views over to Corfe Castle. It’s an extremely historic pub, dating back to the 18th century, and is full of character. The food is standard fare for a pub, with all the usuals on offer, as well as regularly updated specials. They have a wide range of drinks available and are close to Corfe, Langton, Worth and Swanage.

The Bankes Arms, Studland

The Bankes Arms is well known for it’s attractive views and welcoming atmosphere. It’s perfect for walkers as it’s situated a little walk from the main Swanage-Studland route, as well as being easily accessible by car or bus. The view is looking over the sea towards Poole and Bournemouth, as well as taking in the beach at Studland. Well behaved dogs are welcome, and the pub has an extensive menu of pub classics, as well as selections for vegetarians and vegans. They also have an in-house brewery, where they brew ales to add to their selection.

Wessex Belle, Various

Confused by the heading?  The Wessex Belle is set on a train which runs from Swanage and back again, taking in the beautiful surrounding countryside so it’s not set in one location! The menu is varied with a focus on fine dining and there is a smart dress code to reflect this. From the reviews on Trip Advisor, this only adds to the intrigue and feel of the occasion. The food has consistently good reviews, and is definitely worth a visit if you’ll be celebrating a special occasion. The trains and the station are run by volunteers, so it’s a great way to donate to keeping the historic station alive.

New Bonny Blink Photos 2017

There are new photos of Bonny Blink self catering in Seaview Isle of Wight to show updates and changes for the 2017 self catering holiday season. This large and luxurious holiday home has a new bedroom available on the ground floor and there are numerous changes and updates across the property.

Bonny Blink is best known for its fantastic position by the sea and has immediate access to Seaview Beach. This sandy stretch of coast is a beautiful seaside location and the gently sloping beach has excellent swimming waters.

For a complete description showing updates and changes, as well as all the new photos, live availability, prices and online booking visit Bonny Blink Seaview Isle of Wight