Tourist and visitor guide
to Freshwater Isle Of Wight
The West Wight has many areas
of outstanding natural beauty - rolling countryside, peaceful
forests, picturesque villages and breathtaking coastal scenery, such
as the rugged white cliffs of Freshwater Bay, the multi-coloured
sandstone cliffs of Alum Bay and of course, the famous landmark
Needles rocks. '
The port of Yarmouth, with its ferry link to Lymington was the first
Island settlement to be granted a royal town charter, in 1135. The
town was sacked by the French in 1377 and 1524 and King Henry VIII
built Yarmouth castle as a coastal defence in 1547. The unique 700ft
long timber pier dating from 1876 is now a Grade II listed building
and 552 deck planks record the names of those who helped fund its
restoration in the 1990s. Yarmouth harbour has berthing and on-shore
facilities for visiting yachtsmen. The Yar estuary attracts walkers
and bird watchers and there is a cycle way to Freshwater, along the
route of the former railway line. There are some interesting shops,
cafes, restaurants and traditional pubs.
Victorian Freshwater has the air of a town, but in fact holds the
status of a village. An 18 hole golf course is superbly situated on
the downs above Freshwater Bay, there are plenty of shops, and West
Wight Sports Centre has a public indoor swimming pool. Now a hotel,
Farringford was once the home of poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson
and nearby is the Island's only thatched church, St. Agnes, built on
land donated by the Tennyson family in 1908. Pioneer Victorian
photographer, Julia Margaret Cameron, lived at Dimbola Lodge at
Freshwater Bay, which is now a photographic museum. The bay has a
small beach and a large car park and is the ideal starting point for
cliff-top walks, such as the Tennyson Trail to the Needles, with
breathtaking views of the Channel and Solent. Inland from the bay is
Afton Marsh Nature Trail.
The west coast has many beautiful beaches and most are accessible by
road or from the coastal path. At Alum Bay, the Needles Park has a
chairlift to the beach, from which you can see the famous coloured
sands or take a boat trip to view the Needles rocks and lighthouse.
Families enjoy the delightful small beach at Totland Bay and the
golden sands of Colwell Bay, which offers beach huts and water
sports. Compton Bay is very popular with windsurfers.