Dreaming of Spring
The Isle of Wight is one of the best areas in the country to see wild spring flowers – our roadsides, hedgerows, downs and woods are carpeted in the most wonderful array of flowers. From dainty primroses and wood anemones to sturdy bluebells and wild garlic – everywhere you go is adorned with spring beauty.
Keats remarked on the primroses here, especially when he was writing his poem Endymion in the picturesque Shanklin Chine, which this year celebrates its 200th anniversary. Osborne House has a fabulous display of wild and cultured flowers, including those in its beautiful walled garden and Carisbrooke Castle has a formal garden designed by Chris Beardshaw. Ventnor Botanic Garden has an amazing array of blooms from around the globe, along with British beauties and Mottistone Manor Garden is a riot of colour, especially the slopes down to the sheltered rear gardens that are covered in bluebells.
Walk the Wight on May 14th and you’ll get to see the Island’s high points and the wild flowers along the way. Plus you’ll make great friends and get fit – it’s a good idea to get a bit of training in first so start walking to work if you can. And then apply on the Earl Mountbatten Hospice website, get some sponsors and get ready for this wonderful walk that crosses the Island from West to East. More than 80 further walks are on offer during Isle Walk 17, the Isle of Wight Walking Festival, from April 29th to May 14th.
Need somewhere to stay after your walk? Tom has just completed his new Modulogs at Tapnell Farm. These wooden-log-clad cabins each have two bedrooms, bathroom, galley kitchen and lounge with far reaching views of the West Wight and a log burner for chilly evenings. You can have a hot tub on the decking beneath the stars – Spring is a great time for star gazing. And if you’re into great music make sure you visit over the weekend of May 18th because Radio 2 DJ, Rob Da Bank will be hosting one of his monthly music nights and they’re fab (he lives just down the road y’know).
For something completely different you might like to pay a visit to Cowes over the May Bank Holiday (May 4th to 7th) as there’s a huge 75th anniversary celebration of ‘The Defence of Cowes’ going on with visits from a Royal Navy Type 45 Destroyer and a Polish battleship. The Blyskawica was in Cowes for a refit when the German luftwaffe paid a visit in 1942 and the locals have been remembering her valiant defence of the town ever since, although they are pushing the boat out (sic) for this last big celebration. Stay at North House, where Judy Dench, Eddie Izzard and Michael Gambon stayed whilst filming at Osborne House last September.
Sample the Island’s finest wines and spirits at Rosemary Vineyard after taking a vineyard and winery tour that takes in the Isle of Wight Distillery who make the world famous Mermaid Gin and Rock Sea Vodka. Dare to try the Navy Strength Gin that won Best in Category accolade at this year’s American Distilling Institute (ADI) Spirit Competition. You can even take lunch or afternoon tea in the pretty café overlooking the vineyard.
Want to try something a bit bonkers and local? If you walk up to the Longstone at Mottistone, our only megalithic monument, for sunrise on May Day (05.39 on Monday 1st) you’re likely to find a side of Morris dancers welcoming the spirits of May with bells, ribbons and ribaldry. Mead may be offered if you’re lucky. You could walk down through the pretty wild flower woods that lead to Mottistone Manor and gardens and see to the church where Benedict Cumberbatch married Sophie in March 2015. And then repair to the nearby Sun Inn in Hulverstone that the couple hired for the day after their wedding for a slap up May Bank Monday lunch (booking advised).
18 April 2017