Why the Isle of Wight is still a firm holiday favourite

  •  Once beloved of Queen Victoria, the Isle of Wight is a wonderful destination
  •  The Daily Mail’s Mark Palmer has fond memories of childhood breaks on the Isle
  •  He returns to Seaview for a long weekend – and finds it as charming as ever

A ferry ride makes all the difference. Somehow, you feel you’re going overseas – while still firmly in the UK.

On leaving Portsmouth bound for Ryde Pier on the Isle of Wight, children are in a state of high excitement, their parents taking in the air and chatting as if shackles have been lifted.

It’s only 20 minutes or so on the catamaran, ten minutes on the hover.

A long, elegant curve of coastline: Freshwater Bay is one of many places for a quick dip

A long, elegant curve of coastline: Freshwater Bay is one of many places for a quick dip

Locals say life can be tough here.

There are boarded-up guest houses, down-at-heel fish and chip shops and jobs aren’t plentiful.

All the more reason to support this precious island, where there is so much to do and see.

All aboard: Sailing is a huge element of the Isle of Wight's appeal, especially in Cowes Week

All aboard: Sailing is a huge element of the Isle of Wight’s appeal, especially in Cowes Week

I used to come here with my parents, staying in a B&B in Seaview called The Orange Tree.

I shared a tiny room with my brother, while our parents were down the corridor in a slightly larger double with a bay window and views of, well, a road.

But we knew that the sea was a mere 100 yards away and that when the tide went out we had acres of sand on which to play cricket.

A staple of the English seaside: The Seaview Hotel is a sturdy accommodation option

A staple of the English seaside: The Seaview Hotel is a sturdy accommodation option

There wasn’t a great choice of hotels then – except the Seaview Hotel, which is still going strong.

At low tide, you can walk to Bembridge, where the yachty crowd clink glasses and look forward to Cowes Week, which begins on Saturday.

Almost midway between Seaview and Bembridge is Priory Bay, a perfect spot for swimming.

When the sun shines it could almost be Greece.

Crucial is a visit to Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s favourite home, with its recently renovated ornate terrace gardens and HM’s private beach.

The pace of life is slower on the island – and that’s no bad thing.

TRAVEL FACTS 

The Seaview Hotel (seaviewhotel.co.uk, 01983 612711) has doubles from £95 B&B.

Sailings from Portsmouth, foot passengers only (wightlink.co.uk, 0333 999 7333), from £6.50 one way.





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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