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Location - Western Europe; Capital - England - London; Population - England - 50.5 million; Currency - Pound Sterling MORE UK - ENGLAND

The Isle of Wight is only two hours from London, via a train to Portsmouth and a ferry/hovercraft to Ryde on the north east of the island - March 2016.


uknote20 Pounds Sterling










eng5854My first night wasn't at Ryde but at Cowes, West Cowes to be precise. I woke to a great view from the B&B, with St Mary's Church on the hill on the left and the Solent ahead - Cowes


eng5912The Solent is the body of water dividing the Isle of Wight from the British mainland - Cowes


eng5915Sailing the Solent, which hosts the massively popular regatta Cowes Week every summer - Cowes














eng5920A view of East Cowes from West Cowes, as the Medina River flows into the Solent - Cowes














eng5857Clever name! Cowes


eng5858The floating bridge, or chain ferry, connects East and West Cowes via the River Medina. The ferry is pulled along using the two chains in the foreground - Cowes


eng5861The big attraction at East Cowes is Osborne House, former residence of Queen Victoria - Cowes














eng5862The 19th century home was a summer retreat for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert - Cowes















eng5877Osborne House was a big favourite of the Queen, and following the death of Prince Albert she spent more and more time here, in mourning. This is her bedroom where she died in January 1901 - Cowes


eng5896A Swiss cottage was built in the grounds to entertain the children - Cowes


eng5883The grounds stretch all the way down to a private beach - Cowes















At the beach is the Queen's alcove (left) and bathing machine (right). On a sunny day the beach is the perfect place to enjoy a drink at the outdoor cafe, taking in the boat-life and Portsmouth across the Solent - Cowes


eng5891A Wightlink ferry sails past one of the 19th century Solent forts, built to protect Portsmouth from attack (more about these further down) - Cowes


eng5902Not much is made of the riverside at West Cowes, but East Cowes has a small marina overlooked by a bar-restaurant - Cowes














eng5905A view of West Cowes and the River Medina as it opens into the Solent - Cowes














eng5939A rather pitiful looking River Medina passes through the island capital Newport on its way to Cowes


eng5940Newport Minster on St Thomas' Square - Newport


eng5927Perched on a hill at Carisbrooke, just outside Newport, is Carisbrooke Castle














eng5935King Charles I was imprisoned here following his defeat in 1645 in the First Civil War. He was executed in 1649 - Carisbrooke














eng5933The castle walls provide a great panoramic view of the north of the island, all the way to the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth - Carisbrooke


eng5942On the east coast is the resort of Shanklin, with a cute little old village of thatched houses














eng5944Most of the thatched buildings are pubs or restaurants - Shanklin














eng5948Shanklin is a major tourist hub with plenty of hotels, though it had the feel of an old-people's home at Easter!


eng5950If you're a Coeliac like me, gluten-free meals are relatively easy to come by on the Isle of Wight, including gluten-free fish & chips, the first I've eaten in over 20 years! Shanklin


eng5970You have been warned! There's several quirky signs dotted around the island - Shanklin














eng5968The coastline at Shanklin continues to Sandown, Yaverland and to the peninsula at Culver Cliff














eng5973Take a steep path down to the beach - Shanklin


eng5986On the outskirts of Sandown at Yaverland is the Dinosaur Museum. The island is a treasure trove of dinosaur fossils - Compton Bay even has dinosaur footprints visible at low tide.













eng5989The beach at Sandown, with a view of Culver Cliff in the distance














eng5992Another very soggy day at Sandown


eng5993Head south to Shanklin in the distance - Sandown


eng5998Taking the bus to Freshwater Bay on the south west coast














eng5999The seas on the south coast are quite boisterous, and on the eve of Storm Katie the waves were saying hello - Freshwater Bay














eng6005Missed him! A random statue of Jimi Hendrix stands at Dimbola Lodge, Freshwater Bay. Actually maybe not so random - he played the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970


eng6026Needles Park is a natural attraction at the western extreme of the island














eng6010The Needles refer to the Needles Rocks, a set of chalk stacks at the island's western tip - Needles Park














eng6023Also in the Park is Alum Bay, known for its coloured rocks - Needles Park


eng6025Coloured rocks means coloured sand, which also means a brisk business in sand bottle art at the nearby souvenir shops - Needles Park


eng6015Above the Needles Rocks is Needles Old Battery, built in the 1860s to protect Portsmouth's naval dockyards from French invasion - Needles Park














eng6014The invasion never came, but both the Old and New Batteries were manned during World Wars I and II - Needles Park














eng6009The New Battery was built in the late 19th century following subsidence to the Old Battery. The area was also the site of secret rocket and missile testing from the 1950s to the early 70s, above - Needles Park


eng6034The stony beach at Fort Victoria, between Needles Park and Yarmouth














eng6033Fort Victoria has been converted to an educational centre with a cafe, model railway, planetarium and the Sunken Secrets exhibition













eng6035Jutting into the Solent from the mainland near is the 16th century Hurst Castle, one of King Henry VIII's coastal forts - Fort Victoria


eng6043A short ride north east of Fort Victoria is Yarmouth, which also has a small castle overlooking the sea














eng6050The clay-coloured beach at Ventnor, on the south coast near Shanklin


eng6051'Get your fringe benefits here' - graffiti in a run-down building on the seafront - Ventnor


eng6052Located between Shanklin and Newport, Godshill is another cute village with thatched buildings














eng6056This lovely garden restaurant must get packed in the summer - Godshill














eng6078What looks like a permanent house (or houseboat?) at Bembridge harbour in the north east - Bembridge


eng6079As mentioned earlier, I was interested in seeing the four 19th century Solent forts built to protect Portsmouth from French attack. St Helens Fort is the smallest, and also the closest to the Isle of Wight, and easily visible from Bembridge


eng6063Head inland to see Bembridge Windmill, a National Trust property dating to around 1700 - Bembridge














eng6080Remind you of anywhere? The Shanklin to Ryde line uses old London Underground trains, and the interiors look remarkably familiar - nice touch! Shanklin


eng6082Not many hovercrafts are alive and kicking anymore, but the Southsea to Ryde passenger service is still in operation - Ryde













eng6084No Man's Land Fort is now a luxury hotel and events complex complete with lighthouse suite, helipad, swimming pool and cabaret club. Check out their website


eng6086Horse Sand Fort has been preserved as a museum piece, with original gun carriages, living quarters, artesian well and armour plated walls. The forts were upgraded during World War I and brought to war-readiness during World War II, though their role was limited as none could support anti-aircraft guns.

Spitbank Fort is the fourth and final Solent fort. The forts were deactivated after World War II and put up for sale in the 1960s though they weren't sold until the 1980s.



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LINKS - Isle of Wight tourist board, including links to ferry companies - England tourist board - Britain's official website - guide to south west England - guide to south east England - train information across Britain - National Express coaches cover Britain


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