Renna's Discoveries: Isle of Wight Family Getaway

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Isle of Wight Family Getaway

I absolutely love the Isle of Wight. We've been a few times as we have friends that live there, but every time we go, we do something new and I just wanted to give you a few ideas if you travel there.
Firstly, take a car, as it makes exploring so much easier. It doesn't take long to drive around the island and it means you can get to see so much more and plus you get to drive The Military Road which is a fantastic coastal drive along the bottom of the island. It stops at several beaches and has amazing views.
We've always used either Red Funnel or Wightlink ferries to travel over in the car. Tickets can be pre-booked or you can chance it and just turn up and get on the next ferry. (However you can get good deals online beforehand). Both companies are just as good as each other.
We have stayed in Park Resorts - Caravan Parks previously, however this year we stayed at a lovely holiday cottage in Yarmouth which we all fell in love with, and actually, it was completely perfect for us. There are loads of cottages and houses to rent for your stay on the island and I have to say, I found it very difficult picking one. So after a few enquiries, we went for Tap Cottage in Yarmouth.
I was so glad we stayed at Tap Cottage, it was a lot nicer than a caravan park as we had our own space and easy access to the sea and we just generally felt a lot more relaxed. Tap Cottage is right in the centre of Yarmouth but it's still only just over 100m walk to the pier, the shops and the restaurants. It's a lovely walk along the beach to Fort Victoria and you can walk around for miles and enjoy the sea air. There is so much to do in Yarmouth, we have to go back to finish it off. The cottage is fully functional with everything you need, yes, even a dishwasher and washing machine to use, and when you're staying somewhere for a week, that comes in very useful. We also had Wifi and plenty of spaces to park the car in around the cottage. Extra bonus is there were plenty of toys and books for the kids to keep themselves entertained with whilst we were milling around getting ready for our days out. Have a look at our cottage:
The good thing about staying in a cottage or caravan, is that you can take enough food for those nights in and sort out picnics for the day. We did eat fish and chips from town and ate in a local restaurant as well but it's nice to have that choice that you can cook your own food at 'home' as well.

Upstairs there is a good size bathroom with a large shower and a free standing bath!
The kids had their own room with a triple bunk bed in it and there is also another room with a high rise bed over the washing and drying machines, so there is plenty of room for all the kids.

We had the loft bedroom which was very nice. There is no hanging space upstairs so you have to use the wardrobe in the kids room, but that's OK. It just meant running up and down the stairs to get dressed.
So once you're all settled its time to go exploring. Take a walk to the pier and you'll pass Yarmouth Castle, so you can have a little wander in there. Better still , take your English Heritage Membership Card and get in for free. It's only a small castle, but its worth a visit for the views and well....its part of the town and the history, so you kind of have to.
This is a great map of the town, which shows literally everything. It even has a treasure hunt for you whilst you're walking around as you have to find the numbered historical items around the town.
Once you walk over the bridge you walk into Freshwater which takes you to Fort Victoria, the Country Park and The Needles which is well worth every step. We all loved it and we had milkshakes on the beach as well as exploring the history of the island and how they protected themselves.
One place I really wanted to go was Osborne House. This was Queen Victorias holiday hideaway. Similar to Queen Elizabeth having her holidays at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, Queen Victoria would holiday in the Isle of Wight too. She loved it so much, so she bought a smallish house with access to the beach and over the years bought most of the surrounding land so they had more privacy and space for all the children to play in and explore, as well as expanding the house. Some of the land has been sold now, but it is still a magnificent building and walking around the actual house was really quite fascinating.  Even more so for me as I've been loving the series Victoria, and can not wait to see the film Victoria and Abdul - which was filmed at Osborne House. Judi Dench also played Queen Victoria in Mrs Brown, which was filmed at Osborne House as well. Queen Victoria was a fascinating lady, a young queen and very determined. A great role model for todays girls.
This is Queen Victoria's writing table in her room where she would go through all of her correspondence and write her replies.

This is the India Room and there is actually a whole wing of the house dedicated to India and her relationship to Abdul. The ceiling is magnificent and everything about the house is very detailed. They loved their statues, paintings and furniture, it is all very exquisite.
Queen Victoria was actually there on the day we visited which was really great to see and a huge honour.....obviously

We took a walk down to the beach for a paddle and an ice cream. You can see how the royal children learnt to swim, in a pool that Prince Albert designed out of a boat and you can actually sit inside Queen Victorias bathing machine, where she would be pulled into the sea so she could swim and then get changed in private after her swim. No, I have no photos for you, so you'll just have to visit and see for yourself. This is the view of the house whilst walking down to the beach.
You can also walk around the gardens, which are immense, and you can walk over to where the royal children spent a lot of their day at the Swiss Cottage and have a wander around the museum. So there is lots to do and lots of walking so a picnic is the best way for a day out.
Have a quick look at the trailer for Victoria and Abdul, and you can see Osborne House and Balmoral House where Victoria spent a lot of her time in her later years. I love the fact that Abdul is wearing a suit in the tartan that Prince Albert designed.
Another royal building to see is Carisbrook Castle. It is slightly connected to Osborne as Queen Victorias youngest, Beatrice lived here with her family after her mother had passed away. She had many fond memories at Osborne House with her parents and family but decided to live elsewhere when she got older. She built a small house within the grounds of the castle and had her own garden, which is a much smaller version than at Osborne. You can visit the donkeys, re-enact battles from centuries ago and wander around the castle walls. They also have a museum and chapel for you to go into. But hidden away is a really quaint tea room full of delicious cakes!!

The views from the castle walls are so beautiful. She was surrounded by farmland, which to be fair is the perfect place for a castle, as you can see for miles.
On our last day, we took a drive to the actual Isle of Wight Needles. You can see them from Fort Victoria's Country Park, but we thought we go and actually have a look around. Which I'm glad we did as they have a mountain chair lift that you can use to go down to the beach. So you get to see them from up high and from ground level. They do have boat trips so you can ride right up to the rocks, but I think we'll save that for another time.
Of course....there are stairs to walk down and up if you prefer.
So from the Needles, we drove the Military Road towards Ventnor and came across lots of beautiful beaches, where people were playing, surfing, paddle boarding. It was a truly windy day, so we didn't stay for long, but we did stop where we could so the kids could explore and run around for a bit.
By the time we had arrived at Ventnor we had missed lunch so we had a early dinner in a pizza restaurant and wandered around the beach. A perfect end to a perfect week.

Other places that I would recommend to visit in the isle of Wight is definitely Black Gang Chine which is all day play day for the kids. It's brilliant, just make sure you add it to your list of activities.  Another good one for the kids is Dinosaur Isle. Oh and make sure you give crabbing a go! I've never attempted to catch crabs from the sea, but it was a lot easier than expected, and we even attracted the seagulls. It was so much fun, we did it almost every night. Then of course, we had crab races. It was hilarious, and I promise no crabs were harmed.
I need to spend at least another week or two to visit everywhere I want to go to and all the walks I want to do. Sunken treasures, museums, the Victoria Trail, oh...there's just loads.

Have you ever been to the isle of Wight,  do you have any suggestions for me, maybe something off the beaten track?
If you are interested in staying at Tap Cottage, please contact the owners through their homewear online shop Sansom Reed or via The Old Thatch instagram page.