Isle of Wight

Old May 3rd, 2010, 12:27 AM
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Isle of Wight

We are thinking of including a couple of nights at the Isle of Wight next time we go to the UK. Does anyone have any suggestions about accommodation and what part of the island might be best to stay in? We like seeing English villages, walking and driving in the English countrside, and dining in English pubs at night. We usually have a car when touring England but whether we take it across to the Isle of Wight or not will depend on what we learn from your responses to this enquiry. Many thanks...
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 02:05 AM
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West Wight is the nicest area to stay and has some wonderful walking - Tennyson Down for instance is great walking, and over the headland towards the Needles too.
A little further along the coast you can see dinosaur footprints if the tide is out.

We stayed at http://www.frenchmans-cove.co.uk/hotel.htm, which is really a glorified B&B. The owners are lovely, and the setting perfect for walking. The food is good too, all freshly prepared, often including homemade ice-cream too. They had an honesty bar operating when we were there, not sure if that is still the case.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 02:25 AM
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The Isle of Wight is lovely and about 50 years ago I walked around the coast in 5 days; I also have family living there.
I can't remember the B & Bs that we stayed in, but the different parts of the island are quite different.
It's rather more old fashioned than the manland which makes for a lovely place to stay.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 03:21 AM
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Its been many years since we last visited the beautiful Isle Of Wight - we stayed both times in Chale. First time at Chale Abbey and second time in the little hotel in Chale Green.
One thing I missed out on was a walk on Tennyson's Down but we did mostly everything else like a visit to Queen Vics house,
Blackgang Chine, the coloured earths, the Roman Villa etc.

I've been yearning to go back for quite a while now so maybe next year! I will be watching to see what other suggestions for accommodation come up.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 04:36 AM
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The IOW car ferry crossings from the mainland are reputedly the most expensive in the world in terms of cost/distance. However, unless you're a cycling or have plently of time on your hands for the local buses, a car is virtually essential to get the most out of visiting the island.

The two ferry operators are Wightlink (out of Portsmouth) and Red Funnel (out of Southampton). Book in advance on-line to get the best rates, and be prepared for some eye-watering prices during the summer school holiday period (July/August).

The island (particularly) the centre and western parts have some great countryside and picturesque villages, with plenty to do and see for a few days (especially if the weather is good). I'll stick my neck out here and tell you that in over 30 visits (we live quite close to the IOW), I've yet to have a really good meal on the island (apart from the picnics I brought with me). For some reason, it's hard to avoid the re-heated stodgy pub grub / fish'n'chip scene. Not terrible, but the IOW is a bit of a through-back to how restaurant cooking used to be in the rest of England about, oh, 30 years ago.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 05:08 AM
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I agree with Gordon on the expensive ferry crossings! That is the main reason we did not take our motorhome across from the mainland while we were touring the UK in 2008!
The only way I would do the crossing now is as a foot passenger and hire a car on the island or use the local transport.
As for the grub......we only ate breakfast at the hotel on the last trip and ate the rest of our meals in our friend's private home.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 05:14 AM
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In fairness, the island has an unusually good bus system (http://www.islandbuses.info)for somewhere so rural: there's far less of the "one bus a week on Tuesday afternoons, but only in term time" syndrome than most of the British countryside has to put up with.

Though, as Gordon_R says, the buses are a tad more leisurely than many would like, it IS possible, if you're in most villages, to get them to much of the rest of the island. There really are a fair number of people who go in holiday there wihout a car: and even if the price of the ferries doesn't put you off, there's something quite liberating about being in the countryside without a car.

Agree, though, with Gordon_R that "dining" isn't the first word to come to mind when thinking of the IOW. He's being almost libellous about the standard of English cooking in 1980: 1955 (just after rationing came off) is a fairer comparison.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 09:18 AM
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We stayed in the New Forest and then took the ferry from Lymington. That was very easy -- And I don't remember it being all that expensive. I'll have to check and see if I noted the fares in my journal.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 12:42 PM
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Yes Lymington to/from Yarmouth is also an option. The cheapest I think I've ever paid for a day return (including car + passengers) was about £30, but during the summer season it's not unusual to be quoted about 80 10 100 quid - this for a 5 mile journey! If that's not expensive I don't know what is.
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Old May 3rd, 2010, 01:32 PM
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I just checked - car, two adults, Southampton to Cowes (Red Funnel) at reasonable times of day in July on a saver fare 65.50 return,
Wightlink was a lot more from Portsmaouth for the same dates and times - nearly 80 pound, also a saver fare.
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Old May 4th, 2010, 03:06 AM
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Thanks everyone. The western side of the island sounds best for scenery and walking and, yes, The Needles is an area we want to visit. Shame about the food, but I guess we'll make do. I must say pub food generally was very good last time we were in UK (2008), compared with our first visit in 1992. I went on line to try some dummy bookings Lymington-Yarmouth and Portsmouth-Fishbourne. There are specials of around ₤17 each way, but these seem to be for limited sailings (off-peak?) only. Is it necessary to pre-book? It would be nice to think we could just rock up on the day and get on! That's the free-wheeling style of travel that we like, but maybe it's an unrealistic expectation for the IoW?
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Old May 4th, 2010, 04:33 AM
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>>>It would be nice to think we could just rock up on the day and get on!

High risk. This is a guaranteed way to pay the highest possible prices. The ferry compaines like nothing better than a car load of people turning up at their ferry port with no immediate alternative means of transport and expecting to travel immediately to the IOW despite no advanced booking - they can charge what they like. Worse still, you may find the ferries are booked solid during the school holidays or at weekends at other times of the year when the weather is good.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:48 AM
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If you were thinking about leaving the car in Portsmouth and you've never been on a hovercraft before, you can go across to Ryde from Southsea beach in one, personally my preferred way to get to the Isle of Wight if not taking the car:
http://www.hovertravel.co.uk/
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Old May 6th, 2010, 03:38 AM
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Thanks Gordon, you're probably right. However the trick to rocking up on the day is not to care, and to always have a fall-back plan. If something we fancy (like crossing to the IoW) is too expensive or fully booked on the day, we move to plan B! It's an approach that works for us, although I appreciate some people might find such uncertainty a bit daunting. We've had some wonderful experiences that way, all the more so because - being the fall-back choice - they were unexpected.

The IoW idea was a fill-in to a bigger itinerary which I might start a new thread about with a more relevant (wider) subject heading. Meantime IoW is still up there as an idea, and I'm grateful for all the advice.
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Old Jun 17th, 2010, 06:03 AM
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We live on the IoW and like to walk from Ventnor along the coastal path via Steep Hill Cove to the Botanical Gardens. Or you could stay around Brighstone village, near to Brook and other nice beaches and walks.
The Hamborough in Ventnor is a nice Boutique Hotel with great food and views.
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