Whilst the south of England is a place I’ve lived, loved and enjoyed immensely, it’s still quite a busy and full place for the most part. Dorset is one of the most beautiful counties in England, with some of the most sweeping and green views around. And yet if you find yourself craving even more solitude and peace, and you don’t feel like exploring the countryside of Yorkshire, or the mountains of Wales, then the Isle of Wight might be perfect for you. Nearby you'll find the the sunny beach town of Bournemouth and beaches of Poole.
I think that it’s not a very well known little place, as many of my friends who are not English/British have never heard of it, but the Isle of Wight sits about three kilometres off the coast of England, next to Portsmouth (the most normal place to catch a ferry). The ferry is worth talking about as there is a fun option – hovercraft! This floating, gliding monster is noisy and fun, and creates a bit of a sense of exploration as you head off to this little island (actually the largest island in England).
The ferry terminal is right next to Portsmouth pier and the arcades you’ll find there. Honestly it’s not the nicest area, but you don’t have many options to get to the Isle of Wight so there you go. The ferry normally costs about £17 return if you come back the same day, or £24 return and you can come back any time within 365 days, which I think should be long enough.
If you are looking for a day activity to go along with your exciting hovercraft ride, then a visit to the largest town on the island, Ryde, would be a good plan. This has long been a retreat for the rich and the famous and the royal (Queen Victoria spent her last years at Osborne House on the island), and with such a status you’ll also find the oldest seaside pier in England. Ryde Pier is definitely worth visiting on a sunny day, and you can really feel the Victorian elements of design and aesthetic.
The pier is actually still very much functional, and holds a train station at the end, where the ferries arrive from Portsmouth. This train station connects many of the incoming guests with their next destinations, as well as bringing those leaving to the ferry terminals.
If you are feeling energetic and maybe are planning on staying on the island for longer than an afternoon (but actually it could also work for a short day), you could check out the Isle of Wight Coastal Path. This is a beautifully natural 113-kilometre route that takes you all the way around the edge of the island. The path is often started at the Ryde bus station (where the markings are clear) as this is a good spot close to where many people arrive at the Ryde Pier I mentioned above, or from the town of Cowes.
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