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7 Family Days on the Isle of Wight
By Ben Farrelly
Fancy recapturing your childhood in one long lovely day? A fantastic excuse to do this is to get yourself and your family over to Blackgang and the most southern tip of the island and enjoy a day in the UK's oldest theme park. Cowboy towns, smugglers, life-like dinosaurs, haunted mansions and fairy villages and castles are just the beginning of your trip down memory lane when you enter this theme park, its biggest selling point being its charm and character it is easy to spend the full day watching the children immerse themselves whilst you yourself are titillated by the bottomless eccentricity of the surroundings. Age is no barrier at Blackgang Chine and there are an abundance of things to do for everybody, all this with the breath-taking backdrop of Military Road and the beautiful Compton Bay leading all the way up to the Cliffs of Alum Bay.
A Day In Ventnor
After such a full day in Blackgang Chine it's time to kick back a little. Ventnor is a beautiful fishing town carved into a cliff on the Eastern side of the island. Surrounded by beautiful views of the Channel, Ventnor boasts its own micro climate and is a food hamlet that easily competes with many along the Mediterranean. A long day can be spent in Ventnor enjoying the beach as well as exploring the Botanical gardens. The crab on chips served at the Ventnor Fish Haven on the seafront is a must and a cheeky local ale from the Spy Glass Inn is a little treat. If you are feeling fit and athletic a tough walk to the top of St Boniface Down will give you some of the most breath-taking views on the island from its highest point, and I can assure you the walk back down is a lot easier on the legs. Also keep your eyes open for those wall lizards, they have made Ventnor their home and are very popular with the residents.
If you fancy giving the kids a fun filled and exhausting day then Robin Hill is the perfect destination. It's a beautiful environment crammed with adventures for the children and of course the young at heart. Robin Hill is a theme park with a twist, built on an ethos that compliments its countryside setting it provides an old school method of entertainment. Child friendly assault courses, mixing with wildlife as well as thrilling toboggan runs and 3D cinemas are all on the agenda. There is more than enough to keep the whole family occupied for the day and the setting and clean environment all add to the experience.
Spend the afternoon pottering around one of the prettiest little villages you will ever see. Why not start your visit with a fantastic and affordable meal in either the Taverners pub or the The Essex restaurant, we cannot recommend these establishments enough and the food on offer is at an incredible standard. After enjoying your lunch, burn it off with a short stroll up to the picturesque All Saints Church that stands proudly overlooking the thatched village. Then it's time to have some fun with the children by visiting the Miniature Village and Model Railway, remember to take some time to spot the hidden away humour that can be found within both. Finish the day exploring the shops in the back alleys and of course purchasing a tipple or two from the popular Cider Barn.
Osborne House is a must for any visitor on the Island. The beloved home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert she was quoted as saying "It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot". Rich in history and sentiment the home was one of the true royal romances that graced our kingdom. Once you see and experience the house and its incredible gardens it's easy to understand why they loved their home on the island so much. Enjoy just a little bit of the life, one of history's greatest romances shared at Osborne House, you will not regret or ever forget it.
Back to wearing those kids out again. Hop on the train from Shanklin and visit Ryde, known as the gateway to the island there is plenty to see and do in the town on the beach. Maybe a game of ten pin bowling or ice skating grabs your fancy? If not there are miles upon miles of sandy beaches to fill the day. The town offers plenty of shops, pubs and restaurants to visit as well as the old cinema and golf course or driving range. There is also the boating lake, go-karting and a wonderful pitch and putt course, and if your children are very young a trip to Peter Pans Fun Park or the children's beach park will give them plenty to do.
It's the last day of your break, so let's make it count. Sandown obviously has a very long beautiful beach that you can relax on, also there is plenty of water sports to enjoy if you fancy being a little more active. There is plenty to do on the pier as well, crazy golf; amusements and a children's play area to name a few. A walk along the esplanade brings you to more play areas, a pitch and putt and of course the famed Sandown Zoo, filled with tigers and lions it has become one of the most popular venues on the island. Also the Reef on Sandown seafront has numerous options for a lovely affordable lunch.
7 for 6 Weekly Holiday Offer
Make the most of our great value 7 days for the price of 6 Isle of Wight weekly holiday offer. Book by 27th February.
An Island of Dinosaurs
The Isle of Wight - Dinosaur Capital of the UK
By Justin Gladdis
The Isle of Wight is world famous for its dinosaur remains, with so many different types identified already. Excited? You should be, as many more mysterious are yet to be discovered on Great Britain's Dinosaur capital.
It's a well known fact that over 120 million years ago, the Island's environment was just perfect to support a rich biodiversity, from the smallest bacteria and insects living in ferns, cycads and large conifers, to the giant dinosaurs and soaring pterosaurs.
The Isle of Wight is proud of its Dinopast and to showcase this, we've an all year round facility called Dinosaur Isle.
Based in sunny Sandown it combines entertainment, education and enjoyment. Full of displays with clever lighting, artwork, sound, smells and animatronic technology which creates an exhilarating experience. In fact, you will really feel you have stepped back more than 120 million years!!
The museum's introductory exhibition gallery covers the geology and fossils as you walk back in time, taking in the Ice Age of the recent past, back to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs lived. There's also a large dinosaur gallery, which has exciting displays including real fossils, skeletal re-constructions, life sized fleshed re-constructions and two animatronic dinosaurs.
With miles and miles of gorgeous coastline, the Isle of Wight is a fossil hunters dream. Opposite the museum is Yaverland, where there is just a huge range of preserved fossils. Plants and seeds can be found along the shore as well as mammal, crocodile and fish remains.
Brighstone Bay is a good place too.. The famous Sauropod skeleton was found here. The shingle at Brook Bay is a haven for fossils. Larger bones have been uncovered in the cliffs.
The base of the cliff at Gurnard Bay is a great place to find fossilised insects as well as turtle and crocodile remains.
Over 200 species have been found at Thorness Bay.
And we've come up with a few handy hints should you decide to embrace our Jurassic Isle and go fossil hunting!
Go easy with your hammer - many good fossils can be found without hammering.
Make a record of where you found your fossils - you may want to go back to the exact spot later!
If you find anything exciting - why not take it straight to one of the Island's museums?
Stick to the paths - particularly during the holidays
In summer 2013, Island tourism chiefs launched a dinosaur trail and phone app in a bid to boost the number of visitors to the sunny isle even further.
The campaign was then followed at christmas by the release of the film, Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie.
In 2014 the trail changed so we are wondering what dinosaurs we might find on the island this coming summer....
Luccombe - A Hidden Gem on the Isle of Wight
by Ben Farrelly
Luccombe is the little hidden away cliff top village that is also a suburb of the holiday town Shanklin. It has become well known for its parks, natural beauty and of course its incredible sunrise that wakes the sleepy little hamlet every morning. It also hosts nature such as caterpillars and other insects that can only be found in this area as well as being part of the journey of the Shanklin Chine that draws minerals from the Ventnor Downs, that helps nourish the soil, and helps make Luccombe the flowering and green area that it is. If you happen to be staying at the homely and friendly Luccombe Hall Hotel on the cliffs overlooking Sandown Bay you will soon realise there is much to discover in Luccombe. After a hearty cooked breakfast why don't you and your partner or family take a stroll through the gardens and step into the fairy-tale Rylstone Gardens. Hidden away behind a blanket of trees and teetering on the cliffs of Shanklin, Rylstone Gardens is a real hidden gem. Home to a traditional round of crazy golf as well as a band stand and a delightful little tea garden the area is also a sun trap with plenty of trees to sit under for protection from the mid-day sun. During the summer months many a brass band can be heard coming from the park as well as the applause from the people soaking up the ambience as they enjoy a glass of wine or a picnic. It is a place of rest and relaxation and the benches are often filled with people escaping the hubbub of their holiday and sneaking in a chapter or two of their books as the red squirrels frolic in the trees around them.
Taking a left turn out of the Luccombe Hall Country House Hotel will set you on a steep walk along the coast towards Bonchurch and then Ventnor. It is a walk filled with more hidden treasures such as the Devils Chimney, Luccombe Chine, the wishing chair, hidden caves and of course constant glimpses of that incredible view. Through copses and winding paths every corner turned gives a new view that has been steeped in history from the Roman settlements,100 years' war through to the days of the smugglers and of course World War 2. Incredibly the area is still hugely untouched and only nature has left its impressive mark as coastal erosion and landslides have left an indelible landscape. Towards the end of your walk the soil turns to pavement once again and the unmistakably characteristic Bonchurch becomes the next destination. Once a holiday home to some of the world's greatest poets and playwrights the area is un-mistakenly inspiring and will surely continue to help many writers beat their writing blocks over the coming years. Strolling the quiet and leafy streets of Bonchurch will leave you feeling like you have taken a step back in time and the Victorian feel of the place is an emotion that will stay with you for some time.
Continuing along the costal walk will soon bring you into the town of Ventnor. Filled with subtropical plants, its own micro climate, gecko's and abundance of local music and of course its fantastic cuisine, Ventnor is a must for a day out. Built into a cliff face and regarded along with Shanklin as the warmest area in Britain, Ventnor is a very unique place. From the pubs serving delicious local ales to winding the day away exploring the impressive Botanical Gardens you cannot leave without trying the crab on chips served on the seafront in the Ventnor Fish Haven. If the local fresh crab doesn't grab your fancy don't worry, there are numerous establishments serving fantastic dishes and even more options become available during the warm Ventnor evenings. Make sure to check out La Cantina, The Spyglass Inn, Foggs, El Toro Contento, The Royal Hotel and The Boat House as well as many other lovely places to eat. Food options are not an issue in Ventnor and neither is great quality.
After filling yourself it is unlikely that you will want to take that walk back to Luccombe, so hop on a bus or into a taxi for a short and inexpensive trip back to Luccombe. The evening awaits and a freshly cooked four course meal awaits you at Luccombe Hall. You could always follow this with a walk down the cliff steps to enjoy another glass of ale in The Fisherman's Cottage situated at the foot of the cliff. With the stars above you, a local musician or band playing as well as the sea lapping at the shore just a few feet away from you surely there is no better way to end the day?
And let's not forget you have to get up nice and early to catch that sunrise as it climbs over the Channel. You would be crazy to miss it before another day exploring the Garden Isle.