(This is number nine on my Isle Of Wight Summer Bucket List but I made it into a separate post as I had too much to say!)
Four friends and I completed number nine on my IOW list by taking a day in early August to have our own little “road trip” around the Island, which fulfilled the criteria I laid out including eating lunch in a pretty place, driving along Military Road and doing some exploring.
After meeting in Newport and gathering supplies in Sainsbury’s, we headed over to West Wight without a certain aim in mind, just wanting to drive places we didn’t normally go. We first tried to stop at Colwell Bay but it was absolutely packed with no parking spaces left whatsoever, so we moved down the coast a little to Totland Bay instead.
Although Colwell Bay is a more renowned beach, it meant that Totland was nice and quiet (even during the heatwave) and even though it’s slightly shabbier and sitting on the pebble beach hurts after a while, it still features a beautiful view across the bay from both the beach and the hill above it. This is where most of us chose to eat lunch too, as beach-hunting had made us hungry!
Next, we decided to head to Alum Bay as we were so close it felt foolish not to, but you can read more about that at point number four (I’ll add a link when that blog is up too!)
After that, it made sense to drive along Military Road. This titled section is only a portion of the A3055 but we went along the whole thing, finding some beautiful views and a relaxing drive along the way, from Freshwater to Chale. I don’t drive here very often as I live and do most things in the north of the Island, but it’s well worth a reminder of the amazing place we live every now and then.
This led us to Ventnor Botanic Gardens, which is another beautiful place, and we were pleasantly surprised to discover a discount for Island residents (not everyone even realises you have to pay now – please do, it will help them make the place even better in the long run!) It’s lovely to stroll around the different climate areas, and there are plenty of spots to sit and bask in this tranquil area.
Since we were nearby and one of our number had heard about it, we paid an exploratory visit to the Devil’s Chimney in Bonchurch. All I can say is wow! The walk down the very steep steps into the darkness may be scary for some – let alone the prospect of getting back up – but the corner of the world you find at the other end is well worth it and reminded me of Middle Earth. To think of the Island’s smugglers regularly making that trip is quite something!
Finally, we headed along to Sandown for dinner at Flanagan’s, which had a modern pub feel, a great view and even better food (the nachos were in a league of their own) before heading to the pier as a last stop as the sun went down (although the sunset itself was unfortunately hidden over the cliffs).
Overall, this was a fantastic day and a great example of what you can do on the Isle of Wight if you just get in your car and drive somewhere you don’t normally go. There are so many more combinations of places that we could have tried – and we didn’t even touch the East Wight!