We absolutely loved our first time on the Isle of Wight and we’ve been itching to return ever since. It’s taken a little longer than we anticipated but we ventured back recently. We were kicking ourselves when we did as the Isle of Wight is SO easy to get to on the Red Funnel ferry from Southampton. It literally took an hour and we had seating on the ferry despite it being peak season. Our trip, albeit unintentionally, coincided with Cowes so it was awesome to see an abundance of boats as we approached East Cowes.
Before checking in at Luccombe Manor in Shanklin, we headed to Bembridge Windmill. Managed by the National Trust, it’s the last surviving windmill on the island. The impressive Grade I listed building last operated in 1913 but incredibly has most of its machinery still intact. We had a great time looking for the secret millers inside, seeing how the mill would have worked way back when and climbing to the top. There are wonderful views from there and Bembridge has great little trails for kids on the ground as well. POD was delighted to find all the secret millers and was asked to suggest a name for next year’s batch. She’d be over the moon if ‘Millificent’ is picked.
Our hotel was Luccombe Manor, a country house hotel located in an idyllic position on a clifftop. With views of Sandown Bay and within walking distance of Shanklin Old Town and Shanklin Beach it made the ideal base for our weekend. There are both indoor and outdoor facilities as guests of Luccombe Manor are able to share the facilities of sister hotel Luccombe Hall (next door). At Luccombe Manor we had a spacious room and there were ample opportunities to relax – whether it be in the outdoor heated pool and hot tub or while eating in the restaurant. If we’d been there longer, we’d definitely be taking advantage of all the facilities.
We’d grabbed a bite to eat at the Crab Inn before exploring Shanklin Old Town. While we were there we had to visit the Isle of Wight’s oldest attraction. Shanklin Chine was created by Mother Nature some two hundred years ago. This tree-lined gorge with its winding paths, waterfalls and bridges is just wonderful. There are a few parrots to see there too which POD was quite taken with (one even said “hello” to POD!) along with a lovely cafe. We managed to time our visit to Shanklin Chine with a torrential downpour but headed there anyway. I’m not sure my camera has ever been so wet but it was totally worth it and the gorge was deliciously lush. I was so tempted to head back in the evening to see the Chine Lumière but the rain was pretty relentless at that point.
We headed to the cafe in the gardens of Luccombe Manor after Shanklin Chine for a coffee and a well earned piece of cake each. It’s a gorgeous little spot with a dry area, bean bags to sit on and home-made food. We could see Shanklin beach from there and hoped to venture down the cliff steps following morning to have a look. As you can imagine, six year old POD was itching to get her bucket and spade out.
A hearty breakfast and a morning swim were on the cards before heading down to Shanklin beach. We’d woken up with the sun beaming through our bedroom window and while the gloriously blue skies weren’t expected to stay, it was great to see the sunshine. Donning wellies and clutching her bucket and spade, it took POD no time at all to walk the 160 steps to the beach. There she got stuck straight into digging and building sandcastles.
Shanklin Beach is a blue flag beach and we almost had it to ourselves bar a few surfers and walkers. Having had a dig, a wander and listened to the sound of the waves, we headed along the esplanade. There’s an adventure play area and crazy golf there along with a few surf shops. There’s a lift at Shanklin beach too and while we did think about using it to get back up top, we walked instead. You always see so much more when you’re on foot.
Having said goodbye to Shanklin, we made our way to Monkey Haven which is a rescue centre and sanctuary for primates and birds of prey. Located in Newport, there’s lots to see like gibbons, macaques, capuchins, marmosets, owls, meerkats and reptiles. There are animal talks on plus there’s an adventure playground and cafe. We managed to sample some of the local ice-cream while we were there, it was just superb.
Next stop was Godsill which is known as the Isle of Wight’s prettiest village and situated between Newport and Ventnor. Seems hard to be believe but the first ever Isle of Wight Festival was held in Godsill way back in 1968. It’s a quintessentially English village with winding streets, lovely thatched cottages and quaint tea rooms serving scones. While it was fairly busy in Godsill, there’s ample parking at one end of the town so it’s an easy stop off. We enjoyed heading up towards the church as it’s much quieter and there are the most beautiful perfectly kept houses close by.
Godsill is most widely known for the detailed model village which we would liked to have seen had time allowed. We did get distracted by the enchanting Willow Tree Tea Gardens opposite though. It’s a renaissance garden with sculptures, waterfalls and hanging baskets. We got to have ploughmans and sandwiches sat on stone seats at a stone table. We discovered when we returned home it’s got less than two stars on Trip Advisor but we really enjoyed it. Reminds me of a secret garden and it surely must have an interesting history.
We had a list as long as your arm of places we wanted to see in the Isle of Wight. We only had two days there and the weather thwarted a few of our plans. We’re keen to discover the west of the island and the needles on our next visit and get to Blackgang Chine. Exploring with your own car makes it such a doddle, none of the many attractions are too far away. Once again the Isle of Wight totally captured our hearts. Until next time you beauty.
Disclaimer: Our return ferry tickets were courtesy of Red Funnel. Opinions are as always our own.