If you’re short on time and money after saving for the annual summer holiday abroad then a pocket adventure may be a perfect way to break up the months ahead. Wightlink Ferries invited me to explore the Isle of Wight to see how a weekend escape or adventurous day trip is all possible on this island.
DAY 1: PORTSMOUTH TO RYDE WIGHTLINK CATAMARAN
My pocket adventure began with a direct train from South Wales to Portsmouth Harbour station where the entrance to Wightlink’s passenger service is located. An advance return fare costs around £25, much cheaper than driving and parking.
Portsmouth Harbour is also easily accessible from major cities in central and southern UK, just 90 minutes from London Waterloo and 2 and a half hours from Bristol by rail.
View from the bridge (thank you Wightlink Ferries)
The Wightlink catamaran whisks passengers across The Solent in just 22 minutes to the seaside town of Ryde where adventure awaits via ‘Travel to’, a local car and coach hire service that kindly shuttled us around the island.
EXPLORING CARISBROOKE CASTLE
I first headed to Carisbrooke Castle (adult ticket currently £9.40) and explored the spectacular remains of the motte-and-bailey fortress. Most notably this castle was where Charles I was imprisoned during the Civil War of 1647 – and you even see the window he tried to escape out of! The last Royal to live here was Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Beatrice who’s private garden area you can now visit after opening in 2009. I’ve created a separate post about the castle’s history that you can view here.
STAYING AT EAST AFTON FARMHOUSE
I stayed at East Afton Farmhouse, a gorgeous 1700’s property in a Provence-like setting of open fields. The luxurious 5 bedrooms sleep up to 12 people and have been tastefully decorated with access to a roof top veranda and jacuzzi. Downstairs the huge country style kitchen leads to a cool snug that’s been converted into a cinema room, complete with plush red arm chairs (image below supplied by Farmhouse).
Prices start from £1100 for a 4-night midweek break, or 3-night weekend break.
I was also shown around the yurts and cottages at The Garlic Farm (pictured above) that may be a good option for solo travellers, couples or those on a budget.
DINING AT THREE BUOYS RESTAURANT
After enjoying a little time to unwind at the farm house I headed to Three Buoys restaurant in Ryde and soaked up the Caribbean vibe with live Reggae music and sunset beach partying.
The menu options included a 32 day dry aged sirloin steak, mussels and masala cod loin alongside vegan and vegetarian options like gin battered halloumi.
DAY 2: WIGHT CYCLE HIRE TOUR
The next morning I explored more of the islands 147 square miles of countryside by bike with Wight Cycle Hire who offer half day hire (including helmets) from £12 per person. The tour guided us through wheat fields, a hill top golf course and Freshwater Bay beach that could rival anywhere in the Mediterranean.
LUNCH AT THE GARLIC FARM
For lunch I went to The Garlic Farm in Newchurch and tried their Quesadilla’s loaded with sweet potato, mozzarella, peanut butter and spicy garlic. The options were all ridiculously tempting and the shop next door sold unique garlicky condiments, alcohol and of course, freshly picked garlic.
AN AFTERNOON WITH THE WEST WIGHT ALPACAS
The pocket adventure continued at West Wight Alpacas where you can walk with the llamas and alpacas through the farmland. It’s such a unique opportunity to get up close with these amazing animals, I felt quite attached to my llama ‘Loko’ after learning about his life and achievements as a world record jumper! Alpaca and Llama Farm Walks start from £12 per person for 20 minutes or £19 per person for 40 minutes.
FINE DINING AT THOMPSON’S RESTAURANT
Saturday night was spent at Thompson’s in Newport where classy cocktails and a carefully crafted dining experience awaits. Chef Robert Thompson (the youngest chef to achieve a Michelin Star in 2007) with the assistance of his team prepares the dishes before your eyes.
The Eight-Course Tasting Menu (£65, available Tuesday-Saturday) is a masterclass for food presentation using robust local ingredients. You can also pair the dishes with wine for an additional £45.
DAY 3: WINDSURFING WITH TACKT-ISLE ADVENTURES
My final day began with more adventurous pursuits on the coast with Tackt-Isle Adventures. The company can give you lessons in various water sports like kayaking, waterskiing and windsurfing. I tried the latter (£30 for 2 hours including equipment) to some success under the helpful instruction of Nick.
LUNCH AT THE COW CO, TAPNELL FARM
Before setting sail back to Portsmouth on Wightlink’s car and passenger ferry service I visited The Cow Co on Tapnell Farm. There was plenty of praise from locals about this place and it was indeed thriving for an early Wednesday afternoon. If you love steaks or a good burger, do not miss The Cow Co (vegetarian and skinny options are also available).
FISHBOURNE TO PORTSMOUTH WIGHTLINK FERRY
The next time you grow tired of routine or bogged down with work, I encourage you to ignite your adventurous spirit and take a pocket adventure in the UK. For further inspiration have a look at Visit Isle of Wight tourism website that contains a list of all the things you can do on the island.
How do you feel about a staycation or pocket adventure? Please let me know in the comments.
Thanks to Wightlink Ferries and Visit Isle of Wight for organising and hosting me on this trip. All opinions are my own.