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

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 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.

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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!

Cottages for Group Holidays

Sometimes going away on your own is peaceful, and going away with a partner is something most of us do regularly. And of course, going on holiday as a family is something we all love to do; taking the time to relax with the ones we love most. How about doing something a bit different though? Our larger cottages are perfectly suited to groups that consist of couples; and many are situated near pubs and restaurants. All this adds up to our idea of a perfect holiday!

Isle of Wight

Apse Wood Cottage

This cottage sleeps 9 in 4 bedrooms. With huge gardens to enjoy soaking up the sun or an evening barbeque, this cottage is perfect for a grown up group. The cottage is situated a short drive away from the attractions in Shanklin; which is a traditional seaside resort on the east of the island. Shanklin Old Village has a wonderful atmosphere, with thatched roofs and unique gift shops, and there are several open green spaces to enjoy the sunshine and wildlife. Shanklin Esplanade is a great spot to explore the restaurants and pubs.

The pretty village of Godshill is also a short drive away from the cottage, meaning you’ll be perfectly positioned to explore the island.

The cottage itself is equipped with some little extras to make your stay more comfortable; an iPod docking station, WiFi and a flat screen TV amongst others. The kitchen has all you need to cook wonderful meals for the group, and the bedrooms are comfortable and cosy.

The Glass House

This house really is the epitome of luxury. Sleeping 8 in 4 bedrooms, the glass walls and extensive balconies present stunning views over the sea at Cowes. With tonnes of outdoor space for enjoying meals and the view, The Glass House is a perfect option if you are interesting in boating or the boutique style stores in Cowes itself. Decorated to a really high specification, with a well-equipped kitchen and dining area and beautifully presented bathrooms, this is a stunning property and would suit a group of couples down to the ground. The views across the sea are uninterrupted and really do offer something special compared to more traditional holiday cottages.

The village of Cowes is, of course, world-famous for the annual regatta, but it has other attractions as well. The shores are always filled with interesting boats, and there’s also plenty of artisan shops and designer stores to trall around. Cowes also has a thriving nightlife scene; mainly centered around the numerous pubs and the regular live music nights.

The Isle of Purbeck

St Edmunds House

St Edmunds is a Grade II listed Purbeck stone cottage with beautiful, large gardens and gorgeous hill-views. The cottage itself is within close walking distance of the village centre of Corfe, with the castle taking over the foreground views. The cottage is also within walking distance of open fields and pubs, and within a taxi ride of numerous more pubs in the local area. The gardens are a great place to enjoy a BBQ in the sun, as well as simply sitting and soaking up the sunshine. The cottage is handily situated on a bus route; which goes to Wareham and its train station in one direction (handy if you’ve decided to leave the car at home and travel to the cottage by train) and the Victorian seaside resort of Swanage in the other.

The cottage has a large, open kitchen and dining area, which is perfect for enjoying time together as a group. It has 4 comfortable bedrooms and 2 baths and a walk in shower. The cottage offers a well-equipped study, which includes an xbox, a printer, photocopier and a monitor so you can bring a laptop and work if you need to.

The Bakery Cottage

The Bakery Cottage is situated centrally in the quaint village of Langton Matravers. It has an enclosed courtyard style garden with garden furniture and a BBQ to enjoy in the sunny weather. You can also enjoy a pint of beer or a glass of wine in the front terrace which overlooks the main thoroughfare of Langton; perfect for people watching! The cottage has a large sitting room, which is brilliant for playing games together or just putting the world to rights. Sleeping 8 comfortably, with an extra bed provided in the top floor double bedroom, this cottage offers plenty of space for a group of couples to relax.

Bakery Cottage will also accept two medium sized dogs, which means that you don’t have to worry about finding suitable kennels or dog sitters!

Langton itself is a relatively small village, with a shop, some pubs and a post office, however it is only a short bus ride or taxi journey to the nearby seaside resort of Swanage. There is more to do in Swanage, with plenty of pubs, restaurants and shops, as well as a thriving seafront and event calendar. The cottage has 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms.

Dog Friendly Purbecks

If you’re coming to the Purbecks with your dog, you might be wondering what there is to do that will keep you both busy. Well, the Purbecks’ open countryside and coastal paths means there’s plenty of walks to wear you both out. Once they’re sleepy, make your way to one of the dog-friendly restaurants, cafes or pubs listed below.

Walks

There are plenty of trails and paths across the Purbecks to entertain and tire your pooch out. One of our favourites is the walk from Swanage to Durlston. Start from the Peverill Point lookout station in Swanage, and walk up ‘The Downs’ across the top. As well as being surrounded by sea for nearly 360 degrees, you’ll be able to spot Durlston Castle from this point, which will give you a good idea of the distance. Keep going until you reach a wooded area, and continue along the path. Dogs are allowed inside the castle as well, and there’s water provisions which have been made around the castle.

Another great walk is from Swanage to Corfe (or the other way round) across Nine Barrow Down. Forming the north of the Purbeck hills, one side gives views over Studland, Poole Bay and Harbour, and the other gives views of Swanage and the surrounding countryside. There are nine stone age burial mounds (barrows) on the hill, hence the name.

Swyre Head to Kimmeridge is another wonderful walk to do with the dog. A short trip, you should start at Swyre Head near Kingston. This is the highest point of the Isle of Purbeck, and on a clear day you can see as far as Dartmoor to the west. You can then go to Clavell’s cafe and restaurant in Kimmeridge, which is dog-friendly and serves gorgeous locally sourced food.

There are also plenty of beaches that are dog-friendly all year round, including; Kimmeridge, Worbarrow Bay, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Shell Beach and Knoll Beach and Man O’ War Beaches. Some of these do allow off lead dogs, but it’s best to check each individually before your holiday to confirm.

Refreshments

After traipsing through the countryside and beaches, you’ll be tempted to stop for some refreshments. Luckily, because of the dog-friendly nature of the Purbecks, there are plenty of places to stop and eat.

Harry’s Cafe Bar in Wareham serves Mediterranean style food, and welcomes dog inside. It’s a good option if you’ve been for a walk through Wareham forest (which is another great place for a dog walk.)

Coffee Saloon in Wareham welcomes dogs, with water bowls and dog treats for your pooch. Focussing on coffee, they do offer a selection of cakes and snacks, which are lovingly handmade.

The Ship Inn based in Swanage does classic pub meals. They allow dry dogs inside (to the right of the bar only) and there is a small seating area out the front as well. The food really is delicious, and the pub normally has a busy atmosphere with major sports games being shown.

The Red Lion is tiny inside, and although dogs are welcome, it’s better to sit out in the large beer garden. The pub serve food and has a wide range of ciders as well. There’s normally a few dogs outside though, so this might not be a good option for shyer dogs.

Castle Coach House New Photos 2017

Castle Coach House has new photos to show the updates and improvement of this historic Ventnor Cottage for the 2017 holiday season.

These photos were taken in March and include a new look at the front room, bathroom and bedroom of this beautiful self catering cottage in Ventnor Isle of Wight.

View all the new photos as well as a full description, availability and prices at Castle Coach House Ventnor Isle of Wight

How to spend Mothers Day in the Purbecks

Isle of Purbeck

Spending Mothers Day in the Purbecks gives you plenty of options to treat the Mother in your life.

For those who appreciate a bit of pampering, why not visit The Bay in Swanage? With treatments including facials, manicures and massages, this is a great way to help her relax.

Afternoon Tea is always a safe bet for treating your Mum, and we’d recommend Mortons House Hotel in Corfe. Fresh scones topped with Dorset Clotted Cream, sandwiches (if you call ahead) and various types of teas and coffees; and all set within the stunning village of Corfe, which is well-worth an explore.

For those who prefer a typical country pub, visit the Scott Arms in Kingston. A historic pub with probably the most spectacular views in the whole county, their ingredients are sourced from in and around the Purbecks. Serving a mix of British classics alongside more adventurous dishes, you can’t go far wrong with a meal here. And, if the weathers nice be sure to sit out in the expansive garden.

If the weather is nice and you fancy a walk, why not take the Jurassic Coast route from Swanage to Durlston Country Park? There’s also a planned ‘The Spring is Sprung’ walk for just £3, exploring Durlston in the Spring (you’ll probably need to phone ahead to book). You can also visit the castle for the Visitors Centre, or to take in some refreshments in the cafe.  

And, if you’re celebrating with the children, we’d recommend taking in the countryside on the Swanage Steam Train to Corfe. You can explore Swanage and Corfe, and will be sure to find a pub, cafe or restaurant to treat the special lady.

Save £25 on a 2017 Holiday Booked Before New Year

As a Christmas gift to all of our Facebook Friends we are offering £25 off any 2017 holiday booked before New Year.

Simply ‘Like’ our Facebook page and enter the voucher code below while making a booking online or quote it while booking by phone.

Voucher Code: NF644

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