During the summer, the Isle of Wight is a busy place indeed. Tourists and holidaymakers from the UK, Europe and beyond, enjoying the tiny villages, golden sandy beaches and the picturesque coastline.
But once the crowds have faded away and the leaves have begun to turn orange, brown and yellow, the little island becomes…well…quiet.
I ventured over to the Isle of Wight a few weeks ago to understand why the island would be a great place to visit in the Autumn, and came up with quite a list!
The Isle of Wight lies around six miles off the South coast of England, and whilst is has no commercial air connections, ferries and hovercraft whisk vehicles and foot passengers across The Solent to the ports of Ryde, Fishbourne, Yarmouth and Cowes. And that, fellow Isle of Wight fans, is where my list begins.
Whilst Cowes is famed for Cowes Week, the sailing regatta that takes place in August, there are plenty of other things to do around the Isle of Wight’s most northerly town. Explore the English Heritage owned Osbourne House, the former family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Roam around the streets and try the cafes, bars and restaurants, or take a trip to the Wight Military and Heritage Museum.
VISIT THE STEAM RAILWAY
Wherever you drive on the Isle Of Wight, you’re more than likely to come across the steam railway signs. Based in Wooton, the steam railway centre relives the fascinating history of railways on the Isle of Wight. Grab a day ticket and ride around restored Victorian and Edwardian carriages, and take in the views of the Island’s unspoilt countryside.
DO THE MUDDY BULL RUN
If you’re picturing being chased around the chalk cliffs by muscular bulls, the ‘Pamplona of the UK’ this is not. Sorry to disappoint. Much like Tough Mudder, the Isle of Wight Muddy Bull Run takes place every September. Sign up for the 5k or 10k race and take part is the Island’s first obstacle cross country challenge.
GO COASTAL WALKING
Windswept bays, Autumnal tree tunnels, dramatic chalk cliffs, golden sandy beaches and barely a soul in sight, the 70-mile coastal circuit is bound to satisfy all types of walkers. Pop on your hiking boots, plan your route, and if the weather gets too bad, warm up by the log fire in the nearest pub. This site has a brilliant breakdown of the coastal path, with options for completing different sections. Spoiler – go for the 14-mile hike between Yarmouth and Brighstone. This section takes in breathtaking bays, and The Needles.
VISIT THE NEEDLES
You could combine this option with the hiking point above. I drove to The Needles and parked in the huge car park in Alum Bay. I would imagine this is gridlocked in summer, but in October the car park was nearly empty, and it was free (usually £5 per day), and the hike up to the Needles battery and viewpoint from the car park took me 15 – 20 mins. I could get pictures without hoards of tourists, and with no-one around, you can really take your time and take in this dramatic coastline. As another option, you can view the Needles from the sea. Simply take the chairlift down from the car park and hop on one of the many boat tours available.
STROKE AN ALPACA
Well, why not? West Wight Alpacas allow you to take a stroll with an alpaca or llama, meet the rest of the animals on the farm, and even help yourself to a slice or two of their tasty wood-fired pizzas from The Llama Tree bistro.
PLAY A ROUND OF GOLF
As you can imagine, the Isle of Wight has some pretty spectacular coastal golf courses. I played two courses over my weekend on the Island. The first was a 9-hole circuit at Westridge Golf Centre, just outside Ryde. A short course, but one of the best driving ranges I’ve ever visited, with full golf tracer software. The second course was the impressive Freshwater Bay Golf Course, located around the corner from the Needles. Wow. The first 9 holes are uphill, and the back 9 are either downhill, slanted or flat. All played next to the ocean. And my twilight weekday round cost £19. Brilliant.
STAY SOMEWHERE UNIQUE
As you cross the Solent, you’ll notice little cylindrical metal pods that stick out of the sea. First commissioned 150 years ago, these sea based defences were built in fear of invasion by the French led by Napoleon III. Now completely revamped, many of these forts have been turned into little accommodation havens, and many for exclusive use. Visit Solentforts.com for more information. You can also stay on a houseboat, in a manor and even in a lighthouse if you check Airbnb.
GO WINE TASTING
Fancy trying some English wines? There are several vineyards on the Isle Of Wight, including The Adgestone and Rosemary Vineyards, both located on the East of the island. Don’t just take my word for it either. Fellow travel blogger and friend Wanderlust Chloe visited the Rosemary vineyard and said wine aside, they produce the most delicious apple juice you’ll ever taste. Sold!
VISIT THE GARLIC FARM
Remember Forest Gump? Well replace ‘shrimp’ with ‘garlic’ and you’ll get an idea of what you’ll find at the garlic farm. Garlic soup, garlic mayonnaise, garlic chutney, garlic beer…the list goes on. Taste, roam, take a tour, stay on the farm or take part in a workshop at the farm in Newchurch.
HOP ON A HORSE
There are riding schools dotted all over the Isle Of Wight. All are family friendly and have some beautiful horses. If you get a bright, sunny Autumn day, what could be better than cantering across a sandy beach?
HOP AROUND THE PUBS
We stayed in a brilliant Airbnb in Ventnor on the Isle Of Wight, and had to travel to Seaview each day. That meant we drove through Shanklin every morning and every evening. Each time I drove through the old town, I counted all the pubs. Literally 5 in a row, and all looked cosy. If it’s a wet day, hop around the pubs and try and local food and ale. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.
There you have it! A huge list of things to do on the Isle of Wight over a weekend in Autumn. I loved how quiet the island was, and although the weather isn’t guaranteed, the Autumnal colours and brisk beach walks shouldn’t be scoffed at :).
Got anything to add to the list? Feel free to mention it in the comments below.