Isle of Wight

Troubled Waters

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Overview

From Cowes, head to Osborne House and then on to Carisbrooke Castle before heading to Mottisford Gardens on the coast. Follow the coast to Freshwater Bay, Alum Bay and the iconic landmark The Needles. Head for Fort Victoria and then Yarmouth before skirting the coast back to Cowes.

East Cowes

As you sail through Cowes Roads and enter the Medina river the foreshore is dominated by the Columbine Shed and its huge Union Jack painted on the doors, the former home of hovercraft production. The river acts as a yachting marina and the town is largely dependent on their needs. On the higher ground stands the ruined Norris Castle.

Osborne House

As holiday homes go this Italianate mansion built from 1845 to 1851 for Queen Victoria is just stunning. Prince Albert felt the climate and views over the Solent reminded him of the Bay of Naples and the extensive gardens developed in the 18th and 19th century also reflect the continental style. The house has substantial royal collections and a range of café’s and restaurants as well as picnic areas.

Carisbrooke Castle

Travelling to Newport which is a popular refreshment stop, especially around the river and Georgian and Victorian squares. Just to the west is the 12th century castle where Charles 1 was imprisoned after his defeat in the English Civil War. The defensive qualities of the hillock meant it has been fortified since Roman times with Saxon and Norman buildings and later medieval additions when the threat of Spanish invasion loomed.

National Trust - Mottistone Manor Garden

This 15th / 16th century manor house sits in lovely sheltered gardens owned by the National Trust. Tracing its history to at least the Doomsday Book it suffered serious damage due to a land slip that affected the valley in 1703 and the restored house and gardens were the result of work in the 20th century.

Freshwater Bay

A small picturesque cove once used for smuggling this is a popular beach with chalk cliffs at each end. The mainly shingle beach is used for water sports.

The Needles

The western entrance to the Solent is dominated by the three chalk stacks with the lighthouse on the most westerly. The stunning scenery of the headland itself was the site of various fortifications during the 19th and 20th centuries, the location for the first Marconi wireless communication with France and a 1970’s missile testing site.

Alum Bay

Just by the Needles this beautiful sheltered beach is famous for the multi coloured sands which can be seen in layers through the cliff face. The beach is at the foot of the cliffs with either a footpath or chairlift access. There are views towards The Needles.

Fort Victoria

Another fort guarding the Solent the remains of Fort Victoria now house an Archaeology Discovery Centre, Planetarium, Model Railway, Reptilarium and Cafe. The surrounding Country Park offers coast and woodland walks and is great for watching shipping. Depending on tide and wind racing yachts with full spinnaker sails can sometimes appear to be travelling backwards.

Yarmouth

A Norman town established at the estuary of the Yar it can trace its history at least to the 9th century. After a number of French attacks a small fort was built in 1547 to provide a firing platform for cannons opposite a similar structure of Hurst Castle on the mainland. The harbour operating a ferry service, marina and old buildings around the castle make this an interesting stop with views over the Solent to Dorset.

Cowes

Sailing dominates this town and in the run up and during Cowes Week attracts visitors from across the world who support quality shops, restaurants and pubs. Home to the Royal Yacht Squadron, the UK’s premier sailing club, there are many activities underway all the year round. With its esplanade and the small cannons fired to announce the start of races this is a great place to spend some time.

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Overview

1

East Cowes

2
1.6 miles

Osborne House

3
6.4 miles

Carisbrooke Castle

4
7.4 miles

National Trust - Mottistone Manor Garden

5
4.7 miles

Freshwater Bay

6
3.7 miles

The Needles

7
0.0 miles

Alum Bay

8
5.0 miles

Fort Victoria

9
1.4 miles

Yarmouth

10
13.4 miles

Cowes

What to see and do…

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About the Troubled Waters Trail

Distance: 44 miles
Cites / Towns: 10
Number Of Businesses: 0

The iconic Red Funnel ferry from Southampton to Cowes. Docking at East Cowes after passing the famous Columbine Shed original home to the hovercraft it is only a short journey to Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s stunning holiday home.

Head to Newport on the banks of the Medina river and then to Carisbrooke Castle in the centre of the island. With centuries of history including being a prison for Charles I this tells the story of much of England’s history.

Visit Mottistone Manor Gardens and may be a bit of beachcombing at Freshwater Bay leading up to the Needles. Close by, sheltered Alum Bay and its multi coloured sands leads on to Fort Victoria country park with the original fort transformed into a series of museums.

Yarmouth defended by its castle is a lovely coastal town much fought over in the 15th and 16th century and then finally to Cowes, home of sailing.

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Royal Holiday Home

Started in the mid 19th century Osborne House was built to an Italianate design with formal gardens and was said by Prince Albert to remind him of the Bay of Naples. It was where Queen Victoria retreated after his death. The Royal connection was continued by many subsequent monarchs with the Royal Yacht always attending Cowes Week.

Royal Prison

After his defeat in the English Civil War King Charles the first was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle between 1647 and 1648 before being taken to London for execution in January 1649. His youngest son and daughter remained imprisoned with the Princess Elizabeth dying in 1650, aged 14. It also housed other important royalist prisoners until 1660.

The Needles

A lighthouse and 3 chalk stacks thrusting into the Channel have become an iconic image for the British coastline. Best viewed from the sea looking upwards but also viewed from Alum Bay and walking along the headland past evidence of military defences over the centuries.