The perfect fusion of coast & countryside

The Isle of Wight is only minutes away from the mainland and so easy to reach - yet it is a world apart. This diamond-shaped island has a magic all of its own and is one of the UK's sunniest and warmest places. Measuring 23 miles by 13 miles, the Island lies just off England's South Coast. But no passport is needed for the short sea crossing and once you've landed on the Isle of Wight everything is within easy reach from the Lakeside Park Hotel's perfect location.

Boasting award-winning beaches, unspoilt and spectacular scenery and a rich historical heritage - there are attractions, activities and adventures to suit visitors of all ages and nationalities. Discover picturesque villages, spectacular cliffs, downland, sandy beaches, rich farmlands, creeks, marshland, river valleys, and a rich diversity of wildlife, flora and fauna.

More than half the Island is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with 500 miles of award-winning public footpaths and bridleways, while almost 30 miles of its seashore is Heritage Coast.

Exploring the Isle of Wight

Within an area of just 147 square miles (3,800 hectares) over 500 miles of carefully maintained and well-signposted rights of way can be found. Leafy lanes, footpaths and bridleways wind their way from coast to coast through green valleys, meadows, forests and over downland, passing thatch and stone, sea and sand, ancient churches and manor houses.

Cycling holidays on the Isle of Wight

Follow a 62 mile route through some of the Island's best scenery, mainly using quieter lanes, signed with a white bike (clockwise) and a blue bike (anticlockwise), or perhaps tackle a more demanding route using the well signposted bridleways and byways by mountain bike.

Horse riding on the Isle of Wight

There are wonderful opportunities to explore the Island's vast network of bridleways, some of which have been in use since the Stone Age. Enjoy the panoramic views from these high tracks used by drovers, horsemen and carters, long before our present roads were built or a leisurely ride through ancient woodlands and sweet-scented meadows.

Coastal Wight

Explore cliff top walks, beaches and coastal woodland. The wonderfully varied and unspoilt coastline scenery is probably the Island's finest natural asset, from glistening chalk cliffs overlooking clear waters to the tranquil estuaries which meander inland. Whatever attracts you to the seashore, whether it is beachcombing, bird watching, rockpooling, bathing or just watching the world go by, the Island's coast will certainly provide inspiration as well as contentment. There are two stretches of "Heritage Coast" covering nearly half of the Island's 60 mile (97km) coastline. This designation is only applied to coastlines of the highest quality of unspoilt nature in England and Wales.

Public Transport

Buses reach all corners of the Island and you often get an interesting perspective of the countryside from the top deck of a bus. Trains connect passenger ferries at Ryde with Sandown and Shanklin. Stops along the way include a connection with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Isle of Wight Festivals and Events

Nowhere in Britain hosts events quite like the Isle of Wight. With over 1000 local, national and international events the Isle of Wight is the place to be seen, to compete and to party. It's the perfect events venue, with a mild climate, a supportive and vibrant local community, a wide range of accommodation, restaurants and pubs, stunning scenery and endless tourist attractions. See a world-famous rock star, race a yacht or Walk the Wight, then take time out to explore, drink, eat and relax. It's easy to see why outdoor activities like walking, cycling and sailing are so popular on this small Island - it has over 500 miles of footpaths and around 30 miles of Heritage Coastline while more than half the Island is recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

For music lovers, there's the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, Jazz Festival and the Folk & Blues Festival to provide you with plenty of opportunity to enjoy live music. The Isle of Wight is also well known for the musical talent of local bands which play in bars, restaurants, gigs, events and pubs.

On the water, there's the Round The Island Race, Cowes Week and the Cowes Powerboat Festival to enjoy. Visitors can find their sea legs with free 'Try Sailing' taster sessions available during Skandia Cowes Week in August as well as free 'Have A Go' surfing sessions at the White Air Extreme Sports Festival in August. It's not only the international events people flock to - throughout the year, the Isle of Wight is alive with local carnival celebrations, confirming its reputation as England's carnival island.

The Isle of Wight's rich history

Wherever you walk on the Island, you follow in the footsteps of ancient people. Their legacy to us can be seen in the monuments and archaeological remains which pepper the landscape, a landscape which they themselves helped create.

The Romans named the Island "Vectis", meaning the place that rises up or divides. In their fine villas, the remains of which can be found at Newport and Brading, you can see the comforts and pleasures of a Roman way of life.

The fortifications of the Island provide a historic insight into the Island's strategic role. Carisbrooke Castle dates from Norman times and brings history alive to many thousands of visitors each year. Yarmouth Castle, the Needles Old Battery and Fort Victoria are of interest to the military historian as well as the casual visitor. Some manor grounds are historic landscapes in their own right, many containing walled gardens, fine plant collections and buildings of local and national significance.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert established a favourite residence at Osborne House in East Cowes. This royal stamp of approval brought many famous residents and visitors to visit and settle on the Island - Alfred Lord Tennyson (who bought Farringford House), Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Keats, Turner and Ruskin are just a few of the literary and artistic greats who were inspired by this "enchanted isle".

The Isle of Wight is one of Europe's finest sites for dinosaur remains. 120 million years ago there was no Isle of Wight, it was landlocked and part of a larger continent. In the muds and silts of ancient marshy environments, animals and plants were trapped and preserved as fossils. These can now be found in the cliffs and on the beaches around the Island's coast.

Giant casts of dinosaur footprints in stone are a famous feature at Hanover Point. Dinosaur fanatics will be fascinated by the exhibits on show at Dinosaur Isle, Sandown and the Dinosaur Farm along the Military Road.

The Island has also made great contributions to modern cultural history. The Isle of Wight Festivals have a legendary status, with those held between 1968 and 1970 being acknowledged as Europe's equivalent to Woodstock. In 1970 Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Joni Mitchell, Free, Leonard Cohen, Joan Baez and the Moody Blues, amongst others, played to over 600,000 people, the climax of a 5-day music extravaganza attracting an audience and artists from all over the world. A recent addition to the Island's cultural history is the Bestival, an award winning 3 day music festival set at Robin Hill - a beautiful leafy country park in the heart of the Isle of Wight. It was voted the 'Best Medium-to-Large Festival' for the 2005 and 2006 UK Festival Awards whilst also setting the world record for the Biggest Fancy Dress Parade (10,000 people dressed as Cowboys & Indians!). The Bestival continues to grow and add to the fine heritage of this cultural, historical and beautiful Island.

Famous Isle of Wight residents past and present

The Island has attracted many famous visitors in search of inspiration, including John Keats, Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Lewis Carroll, Longfellow, J.M.W. Turner, Alfred Lord Tennyson and J. B. Priestley. Over the years, the Island has been a haven for artists, poets, the rich, the famous and the infamous. Here listed are a few that have put the Island on the map.

King Charles 1 (1647-1648) was held prisoner in Carisbrooke Castle prior to his execution in London.

Queen Victoria (1846-1901) first visited the Island as a princess in 1831, this was the beginning of a 70-year association with the Island. She and Prince Albert moved to the Island in 1864 and the Prince set about re-designing and re-building Osborne House. Princess Beatrice (1857-1944) was the youngest of Victoria and Albert's nine children. She married Prince Henry of Battenburg at Whippingham Church in 1885. In 1889, Prince Henry was made Governor of the Island. On his death in 1896, Princess Beatrice took over the position, which she retained until her own death in 1944.

Julia Margaret Cameron (1859-1875) the pioneering photographer, moved to the Island in 1859. She bought two cottages, which she converted into one calling it Dimbola, after the family's coffee plantation in Ceylon. This is now a museum and cafe called Dimbola Lodge.

Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1898) moved to the Island in 1897 to promote his work on wireless telegraphy, establishing the first wireless station in the world at Alum Bay.

Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1913-1920) was a cadet at Osborne Burma Naval School from 1913 to 1919. His father, Louis of Battenburg, retired to Kent House in East Cowes where he lived until his death in 1921. Earl Mountbatten was Governor of the Island from 1965-1979.

David Niven (1919-1933), the famous actor and film star, lived at Rose Cottage, Bembridge.

Sir Christopher Cockerell (1959-1961) lived on the Island whilst he was developing the first prototype of the hovercraft at Cowes.

Dame Ellen McArthur had her first sailing holiday to the Island at the age of 8, and now lives in Cowes.

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