Just the Two of Us - Get Romantic on the Isle of Wight
There’s something especially romantic about the Isle of Wight, and so many have fallen under its spell, including Keats, Tennyson, Julia Margaret Cameron and Queen Victoria. The romance begins as you board your ferry for the trip over, with the coastline of the island gradually coming into focus. And there are so many more romantic things to discover when you arrive.
Follow in the footsteps of Benedict Cumberbatch and his wife Sophie and visit Mottistone Manor where the couple had their wedding breakfast in a huge marquee beneath the 15th century manor house on Valentine’s Day 2015. The grounds are swathed in daffodils and primroses in early Spring, and later bluebells fill the woodlands. Across the road the pretty St Peter and St Paul’s church is where the couple tied the knot, under much secrecy, with only a few select guests invited. This is an idyllic village for a romantic visit with leafy arbours for secret trysts, and a pretty tea garden in the grounds during the summer season.
The Sun Inn in neighbouring village Hulverstone is where the wedding party took Sunday lunch the following day, and you can eat here in the library styled interior or the pretty pub garden with views to the coast. Carrying on with this theme you could even book the four poster bedroom at the George Hotel in Yarmouth where Benedict stayed on the night before his nuptials. The Isla Restaurant at the George is featured in the Michelin Guide, and the garden overlooking the pier is a romantic scene for cocktails as the sun goes down over the Solent.
Wander the ramparts of Carisbrooke Castle and pose for pictures with the backdrop of the whole northern Medina valley behind you. What can be more romantic than a visit to a proper motte and bailey castle with bags of history? Most of the walls are intact and you can walk almost the whole way around the castle, and then climb the 100 steps to the castle keep for the best views and scariest heights.
If you want to discover the history of the castle watch the film that plays in the gatekeeper’s cottage and then pay a visit to Carisbrooke Castle Museum off of the courtyard. The celebrity gardener Chris Beardshaw designed the Edwardian styled Princess Beatrice Garden, and it’s perfect for a romantic stroll, with benches dotted around the pathways to take in the atmosphere.
Book the honeymoon suite at the Royal Hotel in Ventnor for a truly romantic night with the one you love. Opt for one of their Premier or Delux rooms overlooking the garden, and you’ll have glimpses of the sea. After luxuriating in the bath, walk down to dine in their grand chandelier bedecked dining room and repair to the snug bar for after dinner liqueurs and coffee.
North House in Cowes has a bedroom with roll top bath in the corner of the room, for a romantic bath a deux, Champagne in a bucket beside the bath. Dine on oysters and seafood in their Oyster Store restaurant and then snuggle in a rug beneath the stars around the terrace firepit with a warming brandy.
Be lord and lady of all you survey at Northcourt Manor by booking their Lady Gordon Suite; a large painted panelled room with an ensuite sitting room, also panelled with fine plaster ceiling and Adam fireplace. This imposing Jacobean manor house is surrounded by fifteen acres of beautiful gardens, and there’s a picturesque wooden bridge over the road for romantic walks. The local Crown Inn has roaring fires in winter and a pretty garden with trout-filled river to watch in the summer, with good pub grub.
Walk from the beach at Bonchurch up through the Undercliff pathway towards Luccombe and be enveloped in the lush greenery of this magical landscape. With huge hunks of rock, tumbled with trees and creepers, you could almost imagine you’re lost on a desert island as you follow the pathway through the woodland. Find the ‘wishing seat’ rock and make a wish for your future love as people have been doing through the ages. Then climb the Devil’s Chimney, a spectacularly steep pathway hewn through the rock of the cliff, and maybe stop for a cream tea at the Smuggler’s Tearooms at the top.
Follow in the footsteps of Tennyson and take a romantic walk from Freshwater Bay to the Needles, passing the great bard’s memorial at the topmost point of the dramatic chalk cliffs. Fabulous views are your reward for climbing to the top; undulating fields culminating in the cliffs of the west Wight and the blue ribbon of the Solent separating the island from the south coast. Follow the spine of Tennyson Down to emerge at the Needles and Alum Bay, and some of the most spectacular views on the island.
Food of Love…
For an evening in gastronomic heaven try the eight course tasting menu at Thompson’s in Newport. Robert Thompson was the youngest chef to earn a Michelin star and his restaurant lends itself to romantic trysts, especially upstairs beneath the rafters in this rustically restored listed building.
Take a romantic evening stroll along the seafront to Seagrove Bay and then return to the Seaview Hotel for a delicious meal in their nautically themed restaurant. Food is beautifully presented and delicious - Head chef Liam Howes got a Michelin Bib Gourmand in 2017.
Or for a slightly Scandinavian flavour to your food with the sight of the sun setting over the sea, take a table for two at The Little Gloster in Gurnard. Sadly they are not open for Valentine’s Day though, and reopen on March 19th, 2018.
Be Alone Together…
Climb down to the beach at Blackgang – and it is a climb, though the craggy woodland pathway from Old Blackgang Road that comes to an abrupt end where the land fell away in 1928. That said, this is a stunningly beautiful part of the island and the beach at the bottom is amazing. It’s also a naturist beach, so if you do want to indulge in some skinny dipping no problem. Walk along from here to Whale Chine and you could be the only two people on this primordial beach – ideal for a proposal and simply breathtaking.
5 February 2018