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Bradshaw’s Guide

A descriptive guide to Isle of Wight

Map of the Isle of Wight.

This beautiful island is divided into two parts by the river Medina, or Cowes, which rises in the south, and enters the sea at the town of Cowes, opposite the mouth of Southampton Bay. The south-east coast is edged with very steep cliffs of chalk and freestone, hollowed into the caverns in various parts, and vast fragments of rock are scattered along the shore. The south-west side is fenced with lofty ridges of rock, and the western extremity of them called the Needles. Among the products are a pure white crystalline sand; of the latter, great quantities are exported for the use of the glass works in various parts.

The island is accessible by way of Portsmouth, Southampton, or Lymington, from which places there are steamers to Ryde, Cowes, and Yarmouth respectively; the first two are more convenient for Ventnor and the back of the Island; the last for Freshwater and the Needles.

Supposing Ryde to be the starting point, two routes will take in almost everything in the island, which a hasty visitor would care to see. Those who desire to make a real acquaintance with all its attractions may spend many pleasant weeks in it, finding new walks every day.

The best part of the first or eastern route may be done by means of the Ryde and Cowes coaches in one day, for 9s. or 10s.; or fly to hold four may be had for a guinea a day. No coach travels the western route, which is much to be lamented, as there is no question that a drive over the Downs on this side of the Island (supposing a good road to be made), would be one of the most splendid imaginable.

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Featured places

  • Isle of Wight : Bonchurch

    Bonchurch, so called because the church is dedicated to St. Boniface.

  • Isle of Wight : Carisbrooke

    The former capital, where the governor used to reside.

  • Isle of Wight : Chale

    Blackgang Chine is a gap in the cliff, which hangs over the beach in Chale Bay. It is bare and somewhat dark-looking, with an iron spring trickling through it.

  • Isle of Wight : Freshwater

    Half a mile from the village, on the south side of the Downs in a gap of the cliffs, which rise up 500 and 600 feet above the sea, white and dazzling, producing a grand effect.

  • Isle of Wight : Ryde

    Ryde is a beautiful bathing place, sloping to the sea, 25 minutes (by steam) from Portsmouth, across Spithead.

  • Isle of Wight : Shanklin

    A beautiful retreat hid away among trees and corn-fields in summer, close to a chine or gash in the cliff, filled in with shrubs and trees, with a good beach for bathing and walking on below.

  • Isle of Wight : Ventnor

    This capital of Undercliff had no existence 40 years ago, but is now a respectable town, owing to its delightful situation in front of the sea, and being protected by the cliffs behind.

  • Isle of Wight : West Cowes

    At the mouth of the Medina and is this stirring port, noted for its shipbuilding and yachting. There is deep water here; the Royal Yacht Club hold their regatta in August.