Two hours South of London, lying just off the centre of southern England, the Isle of Wight's thirteen miles north to south and twenty three miles east to west contains a wide variety of landscapes from sheltered river valleys to wild, wind swept headlands, from long golden sandy beaches to forests, picturesque villages and market towns.
The main industries of the Isle of Wight are agriculture and tourism with the resident population of 125,000 more than doubled during the busy summer holiday season from May to September.
Thatched villages still nestle in the folds of the hills. Ancient churches, Elizabethan manors and working mills vie for pride of place. The magic remains.
One of these thatched villages and possibly the most well known on the Island is Shanklin Olde Village. Shanklin is made up of three parts - the seafront, the shops, and the 'Olde Village'. The seafront can be reached by a lift in the steep cliffs and offers a sandy beach bordered to the south by the Fisherman's Cottage, a lovely thatched pub on the beach and nearby Shanklin Chine.
The Chine is a fissure in the cliffs stretching into the land. Although there is an admission charge it is well worth a visit as a walk down the winding path through the trees ferns and waterfall is magical. At the head of the Chine you are now in Shanklin's Olde Village, with beautiful thatched cottages with lovely tea gardens.
One of the older seaside resorts on the Island is Ventnor, clinging to the steep hillside of St Boniface Down with hairpin bends on the roads and paths to the sea. The warm climate is ideal for the attractive Botanical Gardens which host a great variety of plants and can be reached along the seafront on the cliff path or from the main Ventnor to St Lawrence road.
Along the seafront you will find a sandy beach with cafes and small shops. Around the corner between the pub and the Botanical Gardens is Steephill Cove, a tiny bay that can only be reached by foot. White cliffs rise up on either side blanketing it from the world.
The Isle of Wight is the ideal place to head if you enjoy cycling and walking. The 250miles of bridleway are great for Mountain Biking with a real mixed bag of chalky descents, rocky/rooty singletrack, hellish climbs - in fact, you name it, we've probably got it!
Newbarn Farm's central location is a perfect base for getting straight onto some of the best trails on the Island, not far from the Tennyson Trail, one of the longest and most varied trails with killer climbs and long fast descents, also a large part of the route in the annual 7 hills killer orienteering/endurance event. Whether you ride on or off road, there is also a wealth of great pubs and cafes along the way for refuelling.
The Isle of Wight is a wonderful place if you like walking in the fresh air. The scenery is magnificent and you can vary your walks as the mood takes you, sometimes on the high ground with wonderful views, sometimes the sea-shore along the sand or amongst the rocks. Being an island, whichever way the wind is blowing you can always select a sheltered walk.
The Island's Coastal Path circumnavigates the Island and stays beside the sea most of the way around. The total length is approximately 60 miles (100 km) and for convenience the trail is usually split into four equal length sections. The northern side trails border the Solent, the southern side trails are along sandy beaches and magnificent cliff edges. In all, it is a microcosm of all England has to offer.