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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.