Hidden secrets of the Isle of Wight – words Al Woods

Taking a trip to the Isle of Wight? The second most populated island in England has plenty to offer visitors, with great food, excellent watersports and some superb venues to explore for people of all ages.

It’s quick to take a flight or boat, and there are plenty of b and Bs, hotels and offerings from companies such as Classic Cottages to try. Check out five of the best hidden secrets of the Isle of Wight in this guide to exploring the island. 

 

Ventnor Botanic Gardens

These stunning gardens have a varied collection of sub-tropical and exotic plants that make you feel as if you’re in the Mediterranean, not a few miles of the English coast. These gardens offer more than just plants, holding art exhibitions showing the likes of Picasso and Banksy. Once you’ve had a whole look around, grab something to eat at the Ventnor Botanic Gardens cafe – the Plantation Room, which uses herbs that are grown in the gardens. Then explore the secret passageways, underground caverns and tunnels, the biggest of which is 350 feet long. There are daily guided tours available, check it out more here.

Thompson’s

The secret is well and truly out with this one, ever since this contemporary restaurant climbed to the top of the TripAdvisor charts for the island. In 2007 founder Robert Thompson became the youngest British chef to be awarded a Michelin star, before repeating his success with the Hambrough, also in Ventnor. Having opened his own restaurant and striving for similar success, reviewers rave about meals such as day boat mackerel in cucumber and sea herbs, oven roasted wood pigeon and the Asian spiced fish broth. It’s well worth a look if you’re after a meal to remember.

The Calbourne Water Mill

With 35 acres of beautiful rural landscape, The Calbourne is one of the oldest water mills in the United Kingdom. It has its own war museum which takes you back in time with an authentic fire station, and a Granfer’s Shed and Grandma’s Kitchen exhibits. Whilst you’re at the mill take a walk through the Ancient Oak Woodland to see the ponds, build a small Lego house on the Lego tables or take some time to sketch out something pretty on the giant chalkboard, before jumping on a pedalo and take a trip down the relaxing stream.

Steephill Cove

Tucked away by the Ventnor Undercliff, Steephill Cove really is a true hidden gem. Only accessible by foot, it is a great place to relax with its mix of beautiful scenery, clear waters and rock pools. The buildings around the cove just add to the charm with brightly coloured beach huts, traditional deck chairs, a fisherman’s cottage, lobster pots and fishing tackle. If you’re hungry or thirsty whilst visiting the cove, there is a café that serves hot and cold refreshments as well as restaurants serving locally sourced seafood during the season. On warmer days you will usually find the locals swimming in the sea and children exploring the rock pools in this idyllic venue that local residents have always been keen to keep on the hush.

Devil’s Chimney

This evil-sounding rock formation near the village of Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight is made up of a tall narrow fissure and waterfall; carved into the rock is the Devil’s Chimney walk that that forms part of the Bonchurch landslip beneath. It is a must see for anyone who loves to walk climb as there are a variety of different routes through the wooded area. It is fairly steep and can sometimes be slippy so make sure you have decent footwear. Before visiting the Devil’s Chimney download the Dinosaur Island app to find terrible lizards dotted throughout the trees. When all your exploring is finished relax at the Smugglers Haven Café nearby.

Hidden secrets of the Isle of Wight – words Al Woods

 

 

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