Visit Freshwater: Places to stay, things to do

Take a trip to the West Wight to see the best of the island. Nick Peers discovers beautiful beaches, rugged cliffs and rolling countryside on the doorstep of this Victorian village


Why go there
The Isle of Wight is the perfect place to escape from urban life, and if you’re looking for an escape you’ll be spoilt by the West Wight’s stunning scenery. Freshwater lies to the south of the West Wight’s major port of Yarmouth, which is also worth exploring during your stay. Freshwater is split into two parts: the main village lies on the Yar Estuary, which is a popular spot for walkers and birdwatchers alike, while Freshwater Bay lies to the south. If you’re after some bracing sea air, and don’t mind being buffeted by winds blown in from the Channel, then make sure you pay a visit. Despite its relatively small size, Freshwater is a shopper’s paradise, but it’s also the perfect base for walking, with the Freshwater and Tennyson Downs offering a superb overview of the West Wight, including the world famous Needles. These are a short walk to the west through the small village of Totland – you might find the Needles Park a little too brash, although entry is free (you pay for the rides and attractions individually). The range of beaches in West Wight means there should be at least one to your individual tastes, from quiet, secluded beaches to the likes of Compton Bay, which is popular with windsurfers.
Where to stay
Ruskin Lodge dates back to the late Victorian era, and offers three spacious rooms for B&B at £32-36 per person, per night. Relax in the cosy conservatory, or drink in the views from the balcony.
Where to eat
The Red Lion in Freshwater is renowned for being one of the best places for pub food on the Isle of Wight, although some have complained about high prices. You’ll find it in Church Place, and booking ahead by phone is advised.
Tell us a local secret
Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson used to live in the West Wight at Farringford House, set in 33 acres of parkland. The property now offers a large number of self-catering cottages for week-long breaks, and guests are welcome to relax in the main house itself. It was the Tennyson family who donated land nearby for the church of St Agnes. Despite its thatched roof and rustic character, the church was actually built in 1910.