The Isle of Wight region
Separated from the mainland by a short, low carbon ferry trip,the island has lost none of its charm since it was discovered by the young Victoria in the mid nineteenth century to be a perfect holiday venue. Almost half is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty and it has sixty miles of coastline with coastal paths which form some of its 500 plus official walks. The island attracts record levels of sunshine for the UK and has a variety of beach resorts to suit every taste.
On arrival after the relaxing scenic ferry ride, the visitor will be faced with the problem of which of the amazing range of activities to embark upon first. Over 1000 festivals are listed by the tourist board ranging from internationally renowned pop music festivals to village flower shows and regattas. As well as the obvious attraction of Cowes week at the beginning of August, there are many other sailing events throughout the year and the island is an ideal venue for the pursuit of water-sports, fishing, walking, cycling and riding. There are also castles, country houses and ancient historical sites to explore as well as animal sanctuaries, parks and museums designed to be of special interest to the children.
Bembridge / St Helens, Bembridge area
St Helen’s Duver (a sandy dune area of coastline) and the shoreline around the area are noted for their extraordinary variety of maritime plants and wildlife, and much of the coastline in the immediate vicinity is under the care of the national Trust. Beyond the Duver is St Helens beach (both within walking distance but served by a car park if required). The beach has a mixture of sand and shingle varying with the tides, and there are rock pools at the Nodes Point end. It is child-friendly with toilets and, in season, the Baywatch Cafe and a small beach shop, and is relatively quiet all the year round. The larger resorts of Ryde, Shanklin and Sandown are only a short drive or bus trip away.
A hundred yards up the road is the historic Green, the hub of village life, which is bordered by picturesque cottages, and all village amenities including two excellent restaurants, a shop with post office attached, a bus stop, a children’s play area, the pavilion for cricket and football games held there, and, of course, the village pub. It also hosts the weekly boot sale in the summer months (at the far end), and the August Bank Holiday Village Procession.
A greater variety of shops and facilities are to be found in the nearby village of Bembridge. Bembridge is known for its harbour, said to be a haunt for pirates in bygone days, and is now an attractive venue for the sailing community.
Both villages are situated between the Downs and the sea so that the tourist can alternate between forays into the countryside and the coast.