Incredible Days out in the Isle of Wight, Hampshire
The best thing about writing a blog as extensive as this one is the sheer joy it has given me to re-discover the diverse range of beautiful landscapes, white sandy beaches, hidden coves and Hobbit-like moorland we have in the UK. Honestly, who needs to go abroad when ALL of this is a car ride away? I consider this a new bucket list. You are never far from a beautiful walk, beach or spot for a sneaky wild swim. Read on for our next instalment of recommendations for fun family days out in the UK. This one focuses on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire & Dorset. Many thanks to all the kind friends who have shared their holiday secrets with me yet again, helping me unearth some gems from these two fabulous counties of ours.
Steephill Cove and Crab Pasties by the Beach
- Appropriately named, Steephill Cove is definitely worth the effort because it is one of the most charming, secluded spots on the Isle of Wight with treasure at the end of your labours in the name of The Beach Shack serving its famous crab pasties, crab sandwiches and if you get there VERY early, freshly caught lobster.
Crab Shack, Ventnor: www.beachshack-ventnor.co.uk
A Donkey-Drawn Well at Carisbrooke Castle and Breakfast to remember
- A visit to the English Heritage owned Carisbrooke Castle is highly recommended. Take a tour of the castle battlements overlooking the cool, green moat and don’t miss the donkey-wheel demonstrations, pulling water from the well. Finish your day with a delicious meal at The Hut at beautiful Colwell Bay, a very popular family beach with far-reaching views to Hurst Castle. If you arrive by boat, they have their own river taxi service to collect you from your Mooring. You could be fooled into thinking you might be in Ibiza in this very cool beachside restaurant!
Carisbrooke Castle: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/carisbrooke-castle/
The Hut, Colwell Bay: www.thehutcolwell.co.uk
Blackgang Chine Theme Park
- Start your day at one of the nation’s best breakfast venues: ‘CANTINA’, shortlisted by the Daily Telegraph where the Austrian chef serves up mouth-watering pastries and delicious American style pancakes and waffles. This should tee you up perfectly for a day at Blackgang Chine theme park is on the Southern Isle of Wight Coast, a theme park for the family including pirate, fairy and cowboy lands to ignite young imaginations as well as rides and slides for all ages. There is so much here to do that the park allows you to return on another day for the same price.
Blackgang Chine Theme Park: www.blackgangchine.com
Cowes Week Fireworks, A Pub accessible by boat and the Red Arrows
- Cowes week takes place during the first week of August and although usually frequented by the sailing fraternity, if you decide to dip your toe in choose the Friday so as not to miss the Red Arrows Flyby and the closing Fireworks display. For a bite to eat, head up the Medina River to The Folly Inn which has its own pontoon for customers to moor their boats. If you aren’t able to beg or borrow a kayak or paddleboard, there is a regular taxi service to ferry customers from Cowes.
Cowes Week Information: www.lendycowesweek.co.uk
Ferry Timetable: www.cowesharbourcommission.co.uk/
Paragliding over the Isle of Wight, One for the Teens..
- For a more EXTREME day out, head over to Chale and sign up for a tandem paraglide with an experienced pilot from Butterfly There is no age limit, and the Isle of Wight with its’ favourable weather conditions is a perfect spot to start. Glide on warm thermals over this stunning part of the world. The Wight Mouse Inn in Chale is a good spot for lunch.
Butterfly Paragliding: www.paraglide.uk.com
The Wight Mouse Inn: www.wightmouse.co.uk
The Needles by Chair Lift and Top Notch Pub Food
- Take a chair lift from Alum Bay to enjoy the full Needles We stopped at the top for a picnic with a view of the multi-coloured sands and turquoise sea but if you’re in need of something more energetic, there is a small fairground with water zorbing, pedaloes, mini vintage cars and other rides Voted as one of GQ’s top ten pubs in the UK, The New Inn at Shalfleet is highly recommended both for its range of local ales and it’s top-notch traditional pub food.
Chair Lift & Needles Attractions: www.theneedles.co.uk
The New Inn, Shalfleet: thenew-inn.co.uk/
A Country Walk, Outstanding Fish at Salty’s & Cycle Hire on the Isle of Wight
- Go for a walk in Fort Victoria Country Park in the morning, stop for a delicious fresh fish lunch at Salty’s and work off your fish feast by hiring a bicycle from Wight Cycle Hire and pedal along the Yar Estuary to Freshwater Bay. If you are in Yarmouth on a Thursday, Wightwood Pizzas is usually parked in the Long Stay Car Park by Yarmouth Primary School selling wood-fired pizzas from a vintage French van.
Fort Victoria Country Park: www.fortvictoria.co.uk/
Wight Cycle Hire: www.wightcyclehire.co.uk/
Wightwood Pizzas: wightwoodpizza.co.uk/
HAMPSHIRE DAY TRIPS
Beaulieu Motor Museum & Hampshire’s Salt Water Baths
- Petrol-heads should head to the Beaulieu Motor Museum; home to one of the finest collections of cars, motorbikes and motoring memorabilia in the world. Here you can see cars that have broken the land speed record as well as amazing examples of pioneering motoring history throughout the ages (from as early as 1875). It’s only a stone’s throw away from pretty Lepe Country Park; a perfect picnic spot overlooking the pine-fringed coast. On a hot day, there are the Lymington Sea Water Baths where as well as swimming, you can try paddleboarding, water zorbing and even aqua-jousting.
Beaulieu Motor Museum: www.nationalmotormuseum.org.uk
Lepe Country Park: www.new-forest-national-park.com/lepe-country-park.html
Lymington Sea Water Baths: www.lymingtonseawaterbaths.org.uk
Horse-riding on the New Forest and a Waterfront Lunch
- The New Forest is also the perfect spot to try horse-riding whatever standard you are. Stop by and book in a lesson or just a ride out on the New Forest amongst the wild deer and horses. Lymington Yacht Haven has a superb restaurant with a view overlooking the busy Solent and never fails to deliver on a tasty, reasonably priced meal (think fresh fish, mussels etc & gastro burgers here…)
Lymington Yacht Haven: www.havenrestaurant.co.uk
Adrenaline-fuelled Action on the Solent
- If you are in the area for a few days, you might want to book one of the UKSA Sailing Days from the Hamble, but if you are only there for a day why not go crabbing at Hamble quayside and take a trip on the famous Pink Ferry over to Warsash where you can up the tempo by hiring a power-boat for a buzz around on the Solent.
UKSA Sailing Days: uksa.org/schools-and-groups/residential/learn-to-sail/
Powerboat Hire: www.solentribcharter.co.uk/
Gunwharf Quay in Portsmouth with Ninja Warriors
- Visit the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth with the HMS Warrior 1860, the Mary Rose Museum, Gunwharf Quay with it’s fantastic cafes and shops, the Spinnaker tower (in itself awash with interactive RIB experiences, a new SKY Garden etc) boasting a superb 100m high view of the Solent. Much like London’s Shard, you can now have breakfast with a view as well as champagne receptions or a smart tea aloft! Alternatively, take a harbour trip and nip over to the Royal Navy Submarine Museum or immerse yourself in weaponry at the Museum of Naval Firepower. To avoid a museum overdose, stop in at Boathouse No. 6 to ‘Action Stations’ with its rope course, rotating indoor climbing wall and Ninja Warrior Course.
Historic Dockyard: www.historicdockyard.co.uk/
Gunwharf Quay Shopping: gunwharf-quays.com/
Spinnaker Tower: www.spinnakertower.co.uk/
Royal Navy Submarine Museum: www.submarine-museum.co.uk
Museum of Naval Firepower: www.explosion.org.uk/
Ninja Warrior Course: www.urbanjump.co.uk/ninja-warrior.php
Chocolate Courses, Gastropubs & Wild Swimming
- In the pretty historic town of Alresford lies The Alresford Chocolate Company offering 2 hour long chocolate craft making sessions. Follow this up with a fabulous meal at The Wykeham Arms in Winchester, probably my favourite pub in the UK, in winters there are roaring fires and sizzling sausages served to clientele over the bar. Swim it off after lunch in the River Itchen at Shawford Lock, near Twyford. Here there is a 2 metre deep pool without steps, ideal for competent swimmers.
The Alresford Chocolate Company: chocolatecraft.co.uk/
The Wykeham Arms: www.wykehamarmswinchester.co.uk/
Wild Swimming Spot: Search ‘Church Lane, Twyford’ on the Sat Nav.
Highclere Castle & Fireworks
- 5th August- Battle Proms Picnic at Highclere Castle, a slick choreographed Spitfire Display accompanied by Orchestra….taking inspiration from Napoleonic wars, prepare to be dazzled by dancing aeroplanes…finishing with fireworks display….
Kite Surfing at Hayling Island
- Hayling Island Beach is a beautifully clean, long beach dotted with multi-coloured beach huts. On a windy day, it is busy with kitesurfers and windsurfers…. Kelleys Hero Charters (kelleys-hero.com) deep sea fishing experience or www.hi-rock.co.uk indoor climbing wall