10 Free Things To Do With The Family
The Isle of Wight is a great hub for families wanting to do things that don’t you cost a penny. Here are our Top 10 things to do with the kids this season – all for free!
With half the Island an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) there are vast swathes that are perfect picnicking territory, from miles of stunning coastline and enchanted woods to glorious downs and verdant rolling fields. Our favourites are Tennyson Down in Freshwater, Brighstone Forest, Chillterton Down in Gatcombe, Steephill Cove in Ventor and Newtown Creek in Newtown.
2. BBQ spots
You can’t beat a beach BBQ and with miles of beautiful coastline to choose from we’ve picked our best spots. For a distinctly Mediterranean flavour head to the curved headland at Totland Bay; for stunning cliff and sea views pitch up at the miles of sandy stretches along Brook Beach and Compton Bay and for a taste of the Caribbean the clear blue waters at Colwell Bay tick all the boxes.
3. Fairy Walk
The Island is peppered with fantastic forests and within these enchanted wooded glades there’s an underworld of hidden fairies to be found. The best places to discover them are Brightstone Forest, Parkhurst Forest, the forest behind Fort Victoria and Mill Copse in Yarmouth. Be careful to tread quietly.
4. Rock pooling
You can while away hours of fun foraging around the beach in the rock pools which are exposed at low tide where a multitude of plants and animals live under the water. Remember to bring a bucket, a net and footwear to protect against the many prickly things lurking around. Best spots are Freshwater Bay, Compton beach, Bembridge beach, St Helen’s beach and Steephill Cove in Ventnor.
5. Pooh Sticks
The famous game invented by the much-loved fictional character of Winnie-The-Pooh. Sticks are dropped on one side of the bridge and then raced beneath the bridge, with the first one visible on the other side of the bridge the winner. The Island has its very own annual Poo Stick race held in Shorwell. Other great places for mucking about with pooh sticks are the stream at Winkle St in Calbourne, on the riverbank at Brook stream, and on the bridge in Yarmouth.
6. Kite flying
With so much outdoor space on the Island and virtually no built up areas, the sheer landscape here makes kiting such an enjoyable pastime for both adults and children. You can pretty much handpick where to go on a windy day. The Island even hosts an annual Up and Down Kite Festival. The best kiting spots to fly are either up high such as on Bembridge and Chillerton downs or on low-level expansive beaches such as Sandown and Compton.
7. Rope-swing spots
There can be nothing more enjoyable that going on a walk and stumbling across a rope-swing that some kindhearted soul(s) made an enormous effort to erect for everyone else to enjoy. The best spots to encounter those magical swing moments are Mill Copse in Yarmouth, Fort Victoria Forest in Norton, Parkhurst Forest in Newport and Beech Copse in Godshill.
8. Den-building spots
What better way to spend your time than foraging in the forest and testing your den building skills. Ignite your imagination and your creative ability to source natural materials. Branches, twigs, grass – everything becomes a useful building material. The most impressive dens you’ll ever find are hidden in the middle of Parkhurst Forest in Newport. With so much forestland on the Island take your pick - our favourites are Parkhurst, Brighstone Forest and Mill Copse.
For a home-made crabbing kit, you’ll need one of those nets you get with washing powder tablets, a little bit of bacon, a weight and a roll of string; drop the lot in the sea (bag filled with bacon and weight tied onto string, obviously!) and the kids will have hours of endless old fashioned fun! The Island boasts some 15 award winning beaches and many of these at low tide turn into a hive of activity for crabbing. Great crabbing spots are Bembridge Ledge in Whitecliff Bay, Bembridge beach, Freshwater Bay sandy beach, Ventnor Bay beach, Yarmouth pier and off the seawall at Cowes.
The soft clay cliffs around Compton and Brook have given the Island its reputation as the richest source in Europe of dinosaur remains. At Compton beach towards Hanover Point, at low tide you can spot the footprints of the dinosaur Iguanodon, captured forever in the form of three-toed casts on huge sandstone boulders. Also impressive here is the Pine Raft, the fossilised remains of a forest. Once they see all this, pebble sifting for small fossils is a winner for most kids.
18 April 2016