Pocket Britain
Britain > Hampshire > Isle of Wight

A large diamond-shaped island just a few miles off the south coast of England, covered in dozens of picturesque beaches and small towns

Listen to this article
The Isle of Wight is a large diamond-shaped island just a few miles off the south coast of England. Its 148 square miles are covered in dozens of picturesque beaches and small towns, making it a popular destination for tourists and day-trippers. This has been true for many years - even as far back as the Victorian age, when the isle's regular visitors included Charles Dickens, and Queen Victoria.
The main town is Newport, in the centre of the island. For the residents, it is the primary place for shopping and amenities - but tourists are advised to head straight for the coast, where most of the Isle of Wight's sights and attractions are located.
Perhaps the most famous landmark of all is a natural formation on the northern shore called "The Needles". The three white, spiky rocks poke out of the sea, in the midst of the most dramatic surroundings on the entire island. The image has been photographed countless times, and features on many postcards as the Isle of Wight's most recognisable symbol. Close to The Needles are several old artillery batteries, which were still active up until the end of the Second World War. Each gun needed around ten people to operate it. It fell into disuse during the 20th century, but has since been restored. It was opened to the public in 1982 by Prince Charles.
Just a short distance from here is Alum Bay, noted for the differing colours of its sands. This is a popular area for tourists, featuring an amusement park, a sweet museum, and several craft shops, which sell various ornaments made using the beach's multi-coloured sand.
The northernmost corner of the Isle of Wight is home to the coastal town of Cowes - which, for most of the year, is a calm, quiet place, home to only a few thousand people. But every August, it hosts the oldest regatta in the world, drawing in sailing and yachting enthusiasts from far and wide.
This is just one of the major events which regularly tempt people away from the mainland, and onto the island. Others include the annual marathon, which is the UK's oldest, and the Isle of Wight music festival, which has previously hosted one of the last ever performances by Jimi Hendrix. It takes place every June, and is regularly attended by more than 50,000 people.
Of course, during the rest of the year, the island tends to be a lot quieter. It is noted for its walking and cycling routes, which benefit from the island's great diversity. The varied landscape includes everything from cliffs and beaches, to rivers and farmland - leading to the island being known as "England in miniature". Walkers should try and keep an eye out for several of the UK's endangered species, such as red squirrels and dormice, which are known to flourish here.
The Isle of Wight is also known as one of the best spots in the world for finding dinosaur fossils. Many different bones and footprints have been found, dating back to more than 30 million years ago.
There's lots to see on the island - and wherever you go, you'll be welcomed by the friendly residents. Just don't be offended if they call you a "Grockle"! It's not an insult - it's just the local word for "tourist"!

Back ~ Top ~ Home ~ Index

Pocket Britain is optimised for use on a smartphone or tablet with internet access. All content is subject to copyright. All reasonable methods have been used to ensure information supplied is accurate at the time of publication. However, it is advisable to check information before relying on it. Privacy Policy