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12 Step Planet: Isle of Wight
A world of its own, and only minutes from the British mainland. The Isle of Wight is one of the UK’s warmest spots, and has – as Eva Hanken discovers – something for everyone!
Eva Hanken, 18 Oct 2012
Where exactly is it?
Off the southern coast of England, the Isle of Wight is roughly two miles from the mainland. The diamond-shaped island measures 23 miles by 13 miles and is the country's largest.
How do I get there?
Some 350 ferries depart Southampton, Portsmouth, Southsea and Lymington daily. The journey from Dublin is approximately four hours. After flying to Southampton, take the Red Funnel ferry. This will bring you either to Cowes or East Cowes, both beautiful towns.
What is the local beer like?
Extremely good! We'd recommend Goddard's, a local craft brewer whose Ale Of Wight, Scrumdiggity Bitter and Fuggle-Dee-Dum are world class. The more mainstream Island Brewery's Nipper Bitter, Wight Gold, Yachtsman Ale, Wite Knight and Venom are pretty damn quaffable too.
What’s the currency?
The pound sterling (GBP).
What are the biggest towns?
The capital of the Isle of Wight is Newport, in the centre of the island. Newport has eclectic shopping and dining spots. The second biggest town, Ryde, has miles of glorious golden sand and shallow coastal waters. Cowes is the main port with a natural harbour at the mouth of the Medina river. It's a major yachting centre with a top quality pub, The Anchor on The High Street, which serves most of the aforementioned local brews.
What is the nightlife like?
Pretty lively! Coburg's in Rye is a good place for local rock bands and stand-ups (coburgs-ryde.webs.com); Temptation in Newport is the island's superclub (www.temptationsnightclub.co.uk) with accompanying superstar DJs; Crab in Shanklin is a fine thatched gastropub, with a lovely seasonal beer garden (www.crab-inn-shanklin.co.uk) and friendly regulars.
What’s the transport like?
The island is covered by an extensive bus network, the towns of Ryde, Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin. Online timetables are available at www.iwight.com/travelinformation. Additionally the Isle of Wight contains more footpaths than any other English locale – making it a hiker's paradise.
When should I go?