Looking for a change of scenery for the weekend? Look no further than the Isle of Wight. Just 28 minutes from Southampton on foot or with a bike, or just one hour with a car, swap bottomless brunches for a march through the countryside and shopping centres for the beach.
Sail over on the Hi-Speed Red Jet service and arrive in the waterfront town of Cowes in less than half an hour. Walk off the ferry and hop straight on the bus connecting you with the rest of the Island or take a wander through Cowes high-street, full of great places to eat, drink and independent shops. Hire bikes to get around from Two Elements just off the high street or Adrian’s Bike Shop at the start of the cycle track into Newport and beyond.
Turn right out of the Red Jet terminal and walk or peddle straight until you find yourself on Cowes Green, the perfect place for chilling by the sea with fish and chips or an ice cream. Keep following the sea from Cowes to end up at Gurnard. Gurnard Green is a great space for a day out, with a pebble beach ideal for relaxing, swimming, paddle boarding and kayaking. Stop for a cold one at the popular Woodvale pub with a big outdoor garden overlooking the sea, great pub grub and the best sunset views around.
Looking for a proper ramble? Walk from the ferry towards Gurnard Green and up through the village to ‘Marsh Road’. Walk to the end and connect with the coastal path just up from the very Instagramable Gurnard harbour. Walk the edge of the Island coastline with sapphire blue seas to the right and rolling fields to the left to reach Thorness Bay. Explore the secluded white sandy beach and feel worlds away from the city. From the Red Jet terminal to Thorness Bay, this walk will take you around 2 hours each way depending on how fast you stomp and how often you stop – but the majority is flat walking.
Wanting to explore the rest of the Island? Popular places to visit include Osborne House at East Cowes, Queen Victoria’s holiday home. The Island’s most famous landmark, the Needles, with a vintage chair lift to the beach for the brave! Freshwater Bay, ideal for snorkelling and paddle boarding with amazing views from the clifftop. The Steam Railway at Havenstreet, Carisbrooke Castle where Charles I was kept prisoner and ‘the Pepperpot’, a medieval lighthouse with 360 views of the Island – built by a local man in penance for stealing holy wine from a wrecked ship on the rocks below!
The Isle of Wight is connected by over 500 miles of footpath and cycle track, has over 20 beaches, over 50% is classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty and boasts UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status for its unspoiled landscape – making the Island a great place to escape the city and get lost in the great outdoors. AND it’s only 30 minutes away from Southampton.
For two people on foot (or with bikes) travelling over with Red Funnel to East Cowes (1 hour) or the Hi-Red Jet service to West Cowes (28 minutes), pay just £11.20 per person for a Super Off Peak Day Return when two people travel together on the same ticket after 10.55am. Return anytime the same day. Bringing a car? Travel over with up to 7 people for a day from just £25.50 each way and arrive into East Cowes.
Adventure really is on your doorstep – see redfunnel.co.uk for more