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About The Isle Of Wight
The Isle of Wight is the largest island in England, situated off the southern coast in the English Channel, roughly 5 miles from the mainland of Hampshire and Dorset and separated by a body of water called the Solent.
The Isle of Wight is 147 square miles in size, about 70 miles from its easternmost point to the west and the third-least populated of the UK’s 48 ceremonial counties. It is also home to the annual Cowes Week sailing regatta.
What Sort Of Landscape And Natural Features Are There on The Isle of Wight?
The Isle of Wight is internationally famous for its sandy beaches and cliffs, which are especially notable for their fossil and dinosaur remains. 73 square miles, almost half of the island and almost all of its southwestern corner – is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thanks to being separated from the mainland it is also home to a number of animal, bird and insect species that are increasingly rare in the rest of the UK, earning itself further protected status as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
One of the most notable natural features – although not perhaps one which is the most compatible with a dog-friendly holiday – is the Isle of Wight’s population of red squirrels. The island is one of the few places in the British Isles as-yet-unreached by their pesky grey North American cousins.
What Are The Notable Parks, Beaches Or Wild Areas Are There On The Isle Of Wight?
The Isle of Wight boasts 57 miles of coastline, predominantly sandy beaches with white chalk cliffs. The most celebrated of these areas is at the northern edge of the island, the Hamstead Heritage Coast, between Yarmouth and Cowes. Coupled with the large Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to its south, much of the western half of the island is given over to unspoilt landscape for you and your furry friend to enjoy.
Away from the coastal areas, the majority of the island is downland, meadows, fields, forests and chines – areas of rocky “spines” which are another of the island’s more notable geological features.
Six Things For You and Your Dog to do in The Isle of Wight
Visit Osborne House
Built between 1845 and 1851 as a royal residence for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert – the snooty pair having found the Royal Pavilion at Brighton to be very much not to their tastes – Osborne House has been open to the public since 1954 and is currently under the care of English Heritage. In what is going to, sadly, become a familiar tale, dogs are permitted to visit the grounds only and all the while on a lead.
Visit Carisbrooke Castle
A medieval castle of significant historical importance, situated at the southern end of the river Medina close to Newport. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I it was maintained as a defensive fortification against the Spanish Armada. Two generations later, at the end of the English Civil War, it would be home to the imprisoned King Charles I as he awaited his trial in London. You’ll have to explain all of this to your dog in advance, because they are not permitted to go inside of the on-site museum. However, they are allowed throughout the rest of the grounds as long as they are kept on a lead.
Ride on the Isle of Wight Steam Railway
The heritage railway on the Isle of Wight chuffs and puffs around the east side of the island between Wootton and Smallbrook Junction, where passengers can switch over to standard island rail services to Ryde and Shanklin. Dogs are permitted to travel on the railway as long as they are kept on leads and off the seats… and provided they stump up £3 each for a dog ticket. Perhaps you will be able to lend them the money.
Visit Godshill Model Village
Situated at Godshill, a few miles inland of both Shanklin and Ventnor, you can trick your dog into thinking they are a giant with this 1:10 scale model village – complete with tigers and dinosaurs – which is nestled in the two acre grounds of an old vicarage on the high street. Dogs are welcome, provided they are on a lead.
If you’ve not spent at least some time on a chine, have you really been to the Isle of Wight? Blackgang Chine, set within the Isle of Wight AONB, is the island’s most famous such rocky resort and includes gardens, a theme park and, almost invariably, dinosaurs. So as not to alarm these, dogs are required to be kept on a lead.
Robin Hill Country Park
Another theme park set in glorious downland and woodland countryside. For a time, Robin Hill was home to the Bestival rock festival but now it has settled to a more sedate pace with theme park rides, grounds and gardens – with red squirrel spotting a real possibility – and a 4D cinema. Dogs are welcome within the grounds as long as they are kept on a lead and don’t tell anyone at the 4D cinema how their film ends.
Seven Walks for You and Your Dog to Enjoy in The Isle of Wight
By this point in your holiday to the Isle of Wight there’s a good chance that your dog won’t even remember what life was like without a lead or a harness. Help is at hand, though, as the island makes up for it with countless ideal opportunities for walkies.
Fort Victoria Country Park
A twenty hectare site near to Yarmouth featuring woodland, sandy beaches and the ruins of old fort buildings, there is plenty here for both you and your dog to explore, free at last from harnesses and restraints.
The Needles is one of the island’s most famous landmarks, three chalky protuberances standing out proudly against the Solent and served by their own lighthouse. This seven mile walk takes in amazing beach scenery, the remains of a Cold War rocket testing site and plenty of views of the mainland. It is also served by a dog-friendly cafe.
St. Helens Duver
A series of walks along the sandy spit to the easternmost point of the island, between St Helens and Bembridge. It is ideal for walkers and dogs of all energy levels and abilities thanks to being an expanse of flat and wide open downland, leading to the beach at Nodes Point.
A National Trust property sat at the heart of the Isle of Wight AONB near Brighstone, the grounds of Mottistone House provide clearly marked paths and a variety of different walks for all tastes and abilities.
A total of 14 miles of paths and trails, set in the heart of the AONB and ideal for hikers and energetic dogs. This walk will take you through some of the best of the landscape the Isle of Wight has to offer, from dense forest to a view of the Needles.
Combley Great Wood
Another great choice for fans of a tree-lined life, Combley Great Wood near Ryde also offers views of the coast and the Hampshire mainland, as well as having a dog-friendly pub at the end for some R & R.
Hamstead Heritage Coast
A circular ramble around the island’s most northerly nature reserve, this walk along the coast of Cranmore – east of Yarmouth – takes in some of the finest of the Isle of Wight’s most famous beach scenery.
Where to Stay in The Isle of Wight
Given the overall size of the Isle of Wight, visitors need not feel particularly held back from visiting anywhere on the island, no matter where they base themselves. Many, however, will find it easier to lay their hat in Cowes, Newport or Ryde, the main travel hubs for those coming over from the mainland via ferry or hovercraft.
Cowes sits at the northerly tip of the island and is separated by the mouth of the river Medina into two individual towns, Cowes and East Cowes. Both are ideal starting points for a holiday in the Isle of Wight, with Newport down the river and both the Osborne House Estate, Ryde and Wootton Bridge close at hand.
Ryde is one of the most normal arrival points on the island, for travellers on the hovercraft from Southsea. As a base of operations it should be ideal – itself a coastal town, it also provides easy access to the Osborne House Estate, Isle of Wight Steam Railway and island-wide rail services. It is the most populous town on the island.
A seaside resort to the south of the island, Ventnor sits on the eastern edge of the Isle of Wight AONB and is also a great place to stay for people wanting to visit Shanklin or the model village at Godshill.
Shanklin is another of the travel hubs of the island, with rail services and the Isle of Wight Airport both close by. It would be a great place to stay for anyone wanting to be near the beaches at Sandown and Ventnor, or just to enjoy the beach at Shanklin itself.
Stood at the end of the river Medina, Newport is situated more or less centrally on the island. While this is not ideal for easy access to the famous beaches, it does put visitors within close reach of the Isle of Wight AONB, Steam Railway and Carisbrooke Castle.
Ideal for those wanting to base themselves around the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and all of its walking and wildlife-watching opportunities. Brighstone is a few miles inland from the beaches on the southwestern coast of the island, and near to both Blackgang Chine and The Needles.