A visit to the Isle of Wight wouldn’t be complete without a day at Osborne House. From the moment you step foot into the vast gardens and see the majestic house standing proudly overlooking the countryside and valley towards the Solent, this is a place you will never forget.
Built as a home for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert between 1845 – 1851, Osborne House was constructed in Italianate style as the Isle of Wight reminded the Prince of the Bay of Naples. Today the beautifully kept house is managed by English Heritage.
Luck was on my side the day I visited Osborne House. Due to current restrictions you have to book ahead so it’s best to check the weather forecast if you want to explore the gardens (it wouldn’t be much fun in the rain!). The house however opens daily so if you are looking to hedge your bets then this would be a good option. My visit was purely to explore the outside space and I wasn’t disappointed, and I picked the sunniest day of the year, result!
From the moment you pass through the entrance the rolling countryside, woodlands and meadows appear. It feels like walking into a fairy story. The paths are well marked and maps give a helping hand with navigation. The grounds cover many acres and although the paths are well maintained be prepared for a long walk. My aim was to reach the beach so I headed down the valley, following the path. I couldn’t fail to be excited when I caught a glimpse of the house through the trees, standing proudly at the head of the valley. The meandering path passes Swiss Cottage and the through Rhododendron Walk, a pretty woodland area where you can see red squirrels if you are lucky.
The beach takes about 30 minutes to reach, depending how quickly you walk. It is beautiful, over looks the Solent and is pretty as a picture. I can see why Queen Victoria spent so much time here and her original restored bathing house stands overlooking the water. There is a beach café with lots of beautiful wooden garden furniture to sit on (everything is pristine and tasteful here). A coffee was definitely in order and it was heaven to sit and enjoy the view.
Still, I couldn’t stay too long, I had exploring to do. I set off back up the valley towards the house and this is where you get the very best visual of the house. It truly is magnificent, Queen Victoria definitely had the right idea when she made this place her home. The terraces in front of the house are a profusion of statues, fountains and flower beds, all beautifully kept in pristine condition. From here you can see all the way down to the sea, a breath taking view!
There were two more places on my list to see, the first was the walled garden. Now I know my way around a garden but this place was fabulous. A team of gardeners work tirelessly year round to grow flowers, shrubs and vegetables and the end result is a secluded garden bursting with colour and scent. Do make sure you see this if you visit, it would be such a shame not to.
The second place on my list was the ice house and I was curious to see it. Built in 1846 the ice house was used to store ice and keep food cold, clever people these Victorians!. I’d missed it on my decent to the beach the first time round so I retraced my steps and came across it, hidden in a secluded glen. A curious place indeed.
So Osborne House, a definite for your “island to do list”. If it’s a fine day then just the garden will keep you busy, save a visit to the house for a rainy day.
Planning a break away to the island to see Osborne House? We have lots of lovely places to stay, take a look at our collection here and start planning your next island adventure.