If you’re coming to the Isle of Wight hoping to do some fossil hunting then it’s a good idea to get your accommodation near to the beaches that you’re likely to be visiting. Not as easy as it sounds as the west coast of the Island is sparsely populated but here are our pick of the best on offer.
Bang opposite the church where William Fox was curate is Seven, a restaurant and tearooms that has only four bed and breakfast rooms but was refurbished in 2008 to a high standard. You can look out of the windows and imagine William Fox rushing out of the church in the early 1800s to meet the fishermen and see what fossils they had found him that day. Grange Chine is walkable from here and many finds have been made on the beach, or you can travel up the coast towards Compton Bay, or down towards Atherfield.
Right on the cliff edge is Grange Chine Holidays that have four barn conversions, static caravans and a large campsite and a little further along the military road is Brighstone Holiday Centre where you can book a vintage style chalet or camp out under the stars.
Home of the dinosaur footprints that are uncovered at low tide at Hanover Point, Brook has a few self catering properties but the best are at Brook House that are in the wings of this old manor house and the coach house. You can walk down to Brook Beach from here and Compton is about another ten minute walk.
You can hire a holiday cottage at Compton Farm from the National Trust or opt for camping at Compton Farm. Not only will you be at the best beach on the Island but you’ll also be bound to find some fossils. You could even walk all the way from here to Atherfield at low tide.
A good place to base yourself for a foray up the south west coast is Chale and former dairy farm, Chale Bay Farm is set in 26 acres and has modern, purpose built guest rooms set around a relaxing courtyard with water garden, creating bespoke, luxury guesthouse accommodation.
Tennyon’s former home Farringford has holiday cottages in the grounds and this is an ideal place for a base to travel the south west coast in search of fossils. You can also find chalk fossils on the beach at Freshwater. The best cottages are Alfred Cottages, designed by the famous architect and visionary, Clough Williams-Ellis, which have vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces with log burning stoves.
The Ocean Hotel on the seafront at Sandown is the largest hotel in Sandown and arguably the one with the best view. The Kings Bar, which is only a short walk away, is in the building where Charles Darwin stayed when he was writing Origin of the Species. With palm trees and an outdoor pool, it’s only a short walk along the seawall to Yaverland, home of Dinosaur Isle and the Wealden beds that emerge in the cliffs here.
Push the Boat Out
If you want to opt for luxury and seclusion you could book Rocklands Manor in St Lawrence just a short way from St Catherine’s Point and Rocken End. Organise your own bespoke fossil walks with Martin Simpson and you could really impress your friends.