Victorian Escape - Ventnor, Isle of Wight

Penned on the 24th January 2014

Victorian Escape - Ventnor, Isle of Wight

Ventnor lies on the South East corner of the Isle of Wight and boasts more sunny days than much of the British Isles and fewer frosts due to its’ unique micro-climate. Nestling underneath St Boniface Down, the highest point on the island, Ventnor is sheltered from the harshest elements and provides a sub-tropical climate which became famous for its’ health benefits for poorly Victorians.

The introduction of the Isle of Wight Railway in 1866 turned Ventnor into a thriving tourist and health resort. There was once a non-stop train which ran from Ryde to Ventnor called 'The Invalid Express'. 

The traditional seaside town became a Mecca for sufferers of the lung and chest diseases of the times, particularly tuberculosis. Several sanatoriums were built for visitors to stay, take in the fresh sea air and convalesce.

The most famous of these was where the now Ventnor Botanic Gardens are situated, and these days the gardens cultivate exotic flora and fauna in the extra mild conditions. The gardens also have regular events to entertain you such as jazz evenings, plant life orientated lectures and an annual healing festival.

During 1930's Victorian England, the sunny seaside town bustled as it transported holiday makers between Southsea and Ventnor pier by Steam.

The beach is a mix of mainly sand and shingle but because it is set between steep zig zag hills leading off to St Lawrence on one side and Bonchurch on the other, it remains quite sheltered.

Apart from the customary traditional amusement arcade, Ventnor seafront has a cosmopolitan, grown up feel to it, with cafes and bars to sit and idle away the hours people watching with a fine wine or ale, or gazing across the water. 

The Met Bar offers a range of over 50 wines and serves sophisticated Tapas in a chilled out atmosphere with ambient piped music. You will feel at home there whether you are singles, couples, elderly or with family and baby in tow.

For the best view in town, drop in to The Spyglass Inn for a pub meal in the most wonderful setting right on the edge of the bay overlooking the beach. Check out the amazing collection of nautical relics displayed inside everywhere you look. If you enjoy live music, the Spyglass has it most evenings.

For the best Fish 'n Chips on the Island and approved by the Hairy Bikers, you must pop to the Ventnor Haven Fishery for a take away.

The Ale and Oyster offers a bar and friendly dinner service overlooking the sea. Food is locally sourced and this place is a locals favourite (and you can take your dog!)

An invigorating 20 minute to half hour walk along the seafront including a fairly steep set of steps and incline, will take you to the Island's most wonderful hidden gem - Steephill Cove. Tucked away, this little bay does not seem to have changed in decades. Famous for its’ crab sandwiches and peaceful setting, this place is a must. And if you cannot manage the walk, drive in the direction of Ventnor Botanic Garden, park up and take the shortcut down steps or slope.

Follow the seawall along in the other direction and it will take you to Wheelers Bay and the beautiful Bonchurch.

Ventnor has become famous over the last few years for the Isle of Arts Festival and the Ventnor Fringe Festival – a healthy dose of culture and arts and well worth a visit if you are on the Island. Just down from Ventnor is the famous Blackgang Chine, an ideal attraction to take the little ones to explore the Land of Imagination with the likes of Cowboy Town or Pirate Cove, meet the dinosaurs close up, or take a ride on the Cliff hanger.

Charles Dickens spent some time in Ventnor and loved it so much is quoted as saying "the prettiest place I ever saw in my life".

We have a collection of lovely self-catering cottages in Ventnor.


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