Isle of Purbeck – Events Autumn/Winter 2017

The summer may be well and truly over, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty of things to keep you busy in the quieter season. Here are our top picks of events happening between now and the end of the year.

Purbeck Outdoor Weekend – 15-17th September

Although entries have now closed for this outdoor athletic event, there’s still plenty of opportunities to watch the runners, cyclists and walkers along their courses. With each event starting from either the Downs or Sandpit Field in Swanage, the atmosphere in town is sure to be busy. There are also individual events happening throughout the town; including yoga, kayaking and talks with a real-life explorer available for the adults and the kids. Use the link above to find out more and to book a space.

Film Nights @ Purbeck Golf Course – Various Dates

Set within the stunning surroundings of the golf course, these film nights are a wonderful way to spend a cosy evening. Cheap and cheerful, the films being shown are Rocky Horror (25th of September), Lion (15th November) and Hackshaw Ridge (29th November). Each film will be showing from 7pm, and the bar will be open for ice cream, snacks and drinks. The course has exquisite views over to Poole Harbour, as well as valleys and generally lovely countryside. You can book in advance from the reception.

Stargazing at Durlston Castle – 29th September

These stargazing events offer the chance to use the various telescopes at Durlston, including their main telescope inside the new observatory. There is also a short talk beforehand to give you more of an idea of what you’re looking at and what specifics to look out for. The Purbeck skies are extremely clear and offer a really good chance to enjoy stargazing without light pollution. The new observatory is supported by members of the Wessex Astronomical Society, which means the talks are informative and interesting.

Swanage Blues Festival – 5th – 8th October

The biannual Swanage Blues Festival is the towns last music based festival of the year. Growing ever more popular as the years go on, the Blues Festival takes place in almost every venue in Swanage, with over 30 bands and 15 indoor venues taking part. The support wristbands are only £10, and although they’re not compulsory for each venue, buying one supports the festival and allows it to continue each year. There are also jams and open mic nights, so if you want to get more involved you can!

Purbeck Film Festival – 13th -29th October

A huge number of films are being shown at various venues throughout Dorset and the Purbecks over this festival. There’s everything from indie comedies, blockbuster dramas and kids flicks, so no matter what your taste, you’ll definitely be able to find something to suit you. The film festival is also showing several foreign language films as well, which really backs up the idea of education through film that the charitable trust behind the event stands for. For more information, including how to book tickets, use the link above.

Santa Special Trains – Various Dates

These ones are perfect for the kids! A return journey on the steam train, with the opportunity to meet Santa, these trips are really quite magical for the little ones. Starting from and returning to Swanage train station, the journey is an hour long and includes a gift, soft drink and biscuit for the children, and a mince pie and seasonal drink for the adults. Whilst taking in the beautiful Purbeck countryside, you’ll also be entertained on board. The trains run four times a day, on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the beginning of December, and every day throughout the week from the 18th to the 24th. There is also a canapé and champagne version for the grown ups, held in the luxurious Pullman Observation Car, and Christmas Luncheons on the Wessex Belle as well.

New Bembridge Cottage Larkspur House Isle of Wight

We are pleased to introduce Larkspur House, a new self catering holiday cottage in Bembridge on the East of The Isle of Wight. This coastal town is surrounded by beach and the nearby resorts of St Helens, Seaview and Shanklin are within walking distance via the coastal path.

Lurkspur is a 4 bedroom holiday cottage and available for self catering holidays from now. The beautifully decorated cottage has only just been released so there is still availability for school holidays on the Isle of Wight.

For more information, including prices, availability and much more visit Larkspur Bembridge Isle of Wight

New Photos of Rosemary Cottage Godshill Isle of Wight

There are new photos of Rosemary Cottage at Godshill on the East of the Isle of Wight showing the bedrooms and living room.

Rosemary Cottage is located within a short walk of the centre of Godshill and is on the grounds of a beautiful farm surrounded by countryside. This lovely location gives excellent access to walking trails, footpaths and cycle routes with lead to some of the principle attractions on the Island. A footpath to Ventnor and Shanklin are located close to the cottage.

For more information visit Rosemary Cottage Godshill Isle of Wight

What to do on the Isle of Wight this bank holiday Monday

Are you looking for something to do on the island this bank holiday Monday? There’s lots for the whole family to enjoy, here are a few options;

International Scooter Rally (25th-28th August)

With 5,000 scooters expected on the island during the festival, if you’re a mod at heart you won’t want to miss this! One of the biggest scooter rallies in the world, there will be entertainment over the weekend, and a showstopping ‘ride-out’ from Ryde seafront on the Sunday. Centering in Ryde, definitely make your way there to marvel at the various scooters, as well as entertainment at Smallbrook Stadium, Ryde Pavillion Bar amongst others.

Island Steam Show (25th-28th August)

Set to be a brilliant day out for the whole family, the 43rd Island Steam Show involves steam train trips, entertainment in the main arena, comedy, fair rides and vintage cars on show. There will also be a chance to pick up some local crafts from stalls, as well as refresh yourselves at the beer tent. Moto-Stunts International will be putting on a must-see stunt show – which won’t be one for the faint hearted!

Cowes Classic Powerboat Race (27th August)

This 200 mile race is compared to Le Mans, for its sheer difficulty, and can be completed in 3 hours. The best places to watch from our Egypt Point and Victoria Fort, so why not set up with a picnic and lovely sea views to watch the thrilling race? Fort Victoria also houses lots to keep the children entertained, from an underwater archeology centre to a planetarium.

Arreton Barns

The biggest arts and crafts centre on the island, Arreton Barns truly has something for everyone. You can watch skilled crafters in their workshop, or explore the duck pond, village green or sweet shop. The barns also has a pub called The Dairymans Daughter, which is a great spot for some lunch and a drink. Over the bank holiday weekend, Isle Bounce will also be at the barns, with various bouncy castles to wear the children out!

Monkey Haven

Definitely one for the animal lovers, Monkey Haven is a rescue for primates such as monkeys, gibbons and marmosets. They give these lovely animals a new life, and also care for meerkats, owls and reptiles. There are lots of chances to educate as well, with keeper talks and feedings, as well as the chance to get up close and personal with many of the creatures.


The best spots for sea swimming in Dorset

Dorset is full of stunning beaches and seaside locations, most with plenty of cafes and restaurants around for refreshments; perfect for setting up for a day of sunbathing and swimming. Here are our favourite locations for beach days;

Swanage Beach

Swanage beach is a traditional, long stretch of golden sands, set within the quaint town. It’s perfect for families, as you’re never far from a cafe, shop or restaurant (try the Fish Plaice for the best fish and chips in town!) There are regular Punch and Judy shows during the summer for a nominal cost, and the views back to the Isle of Wight and Bournemouth are stunning. Make a day of it by walking to Peveril Point to enjoy some even more spectacular views, or by visiting the railway station and taking the steam train up to Corfe Castle.


This beach is another very popular tourist beach, and for good reason as well. With the traditional Georgian buildings surrounding the esplanade, the sights to be seen include donkeys on the beach, and more Punch and Judy shows to watch. The town itself has lots of cafes and restaurants, there’s also live music and fireworks displays throughout the summer. The sand is soft and the waters are fairly shallow, so it’s a great one to visit with smaller children.


The beaches at Studland are split into distinct areas; South Beach, Middle Beach, Knoll Beach and Shell Bay. Each one is good for swimming, however it is worth noting that there is a short stretch of the beach designated to naturists, so please make sure you follow any signage where appropriate. Knoll Beach is probably the best for setting up for the day, with sands which gradually slope into the water, along with watersports equipment for hire. There’s also cafes for refreshments, and an ice cream kiosk for when that craving hits! Studland can be accessed from Swanage by car or bus, and can be easily reached from Corfe Castle or Langton Matravers by car.


Bournemouth is across the chain ferry from Studland, so is around a 45-60 minute drive from Swanage and the Purbecks. It’s a hugely popular resort, with good reason too, the 7 miles of golden sands, surrounded by vibrant town centre shops, restaurants, and cafes means you’ll need plenty of time to explore. The main beach has lots going on year round, with events throughout the year, as well as the pier and it’s attractions. There are several things on the pier of interest, including RockReef (all-weather climbing and obstacle courses), as well as a zipline down the pier, and an indoor caving area – perfect for children.


Known as the home of many of the UKs rich and famous, Sandbanks has the 4th highest land value in the world (by area). Besides that however, it’s also a lovely stretch of sand, and has been recognised with the Blue Flag award countless times over the years, showing how safe it is for swimming. There’s a wide selection of watersports equipment to hire, as well as a crazy golf course. There’s shops, cafes, and restaurants, including Rick Stein’s which is great for fine dining. Sandbanks is just a short journey from the Purbecks over the chain ferry.

Best spots for sea swimming on the Isle of Wight

There is nothing that can come close to stepping into the (normally freezing!) sea for a swim, especially when the weather is glorious during the summer. Whether you’re planning on a paddle, a dip, or a full on workout, there are definitely risks which can occur if you’re not swimming in a safe area. The Isle of Wight has plenty of beaches with safe swimming waters and things to keep the family busy, here are a few of our favourites;

Colwell Bay

Colwell is situated to the west of the island, in between Yarmouth and Totland. There are plenty of cafes, shops, and a restaurant as well, so you won’t be far from amenities. You can also hire equipment for watersports, as well as purchase inflatables to enjoy the water even more. The waters are clear and calm, and offer views back across to the mainland. The water gently slopes into the sea, so it’s perfect for sea swimming. The only thing to note is that the bay is a hotspot for windsurfers and jetskiers, so practise caution and be aware of your surroundings.


Shanklin is possibly the most famous beach on the Isle of Wight, partly due to it’s stunning swimming waters. The beach itself is sandy, so is great for setting up for the day, whether sunbathing, building castles, or swimming. The promenade that sits next to the beach has plenty of things to keep the whole family busy; with crazy golf, cafes, shops, go-karting, and pubs. From Shanklin there are lots of good walks and places to visit, including walking round to Luccombe Beach at low tide.

Freshwater Bay

You might need to make sure you’re wearing sturdy shoes on this beach as it is a little pebbly, however once you’re in the water there is soft sand underfoot. This is a great spot to visit for those who like something a little different than the standard ‘beach day’, with caves that can be explored by kayak (with local instructors). You can also walk along an exposed rocky ledge to see a smaller bay to the west of Freshwater Bay, though this can only be done at extremely low tide so it’s worth checking before you travel. Freshwater Bay also has rock pools to explore, and is popular with surfers. From Freshwater Bay you are close to Tennyson Down and Monument, which are both things you should see whilst on the island.

Springvale Beach

The shallow waters at Springvale Beach make it absolutely perfect for younger children wanting to swim in the sea. The beach itself is made up of shingle and sand, and the waters are sparklingly clear, perfect for a paddle. It’s generally a fairly quiet beach as well, which makes it a nice change from some of the more popular tourist areas. If you fancy extending the day out, there is a nearby pub called ‘The Boathouse’, and the beach is only a short walk away from Puckpool Park, which offers refreshments as well as other activities such as mini-golf and tennis. There is a lot of free parking around as well, so a perfect cheaper day out.

Steephill Cove

Although Steephill Cove is only accessible via foot, it really is a hidden gem and well worth a visit. It’s a really quiet and picturesque spot to admire the views from, and has a much different atmosphere to some of the busier beaches on the island. The area also has lots of cute fisherman’s cottages and beach huts, which really add to the feeling of stepping back in time you get whilst here. There are several restaurants to refresh yourself in, which all serve fresh seafood, and the beach is dog friendly (although do double check with local information.) The only downside is the accessibility, as the cove is down (you guessed it!) a steep hill, which does mean it’s probably not suitable for those with lower mobility.


Care should be taken when swimming in any water, so make sure all children are supervised and you triple check for dangers, as well as being aware of any dangers which may be unseen.

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