Somewhere only we know – an insider’s view of the Isle of Wight, Part 1


This winter we are back on the island and it has given me time to reflect on my favourite ways to spend some time here, be that walks by the sea, exploring secret beaches, or visiting places that hold a special meaning. They are all popular places seen from the perspective of someone who lives on the island, so that you know how best to experience them. Here is the first.

#1 Walking up to the Tennyson Monument

Just before you start this walk, stand at the bottom and look up. It’s a steep incline to start, but the views from the top are simply wow. Just dig your heels in and begin. Remember to take a breath every now and then, stop and look around, take it all in. We have done it in all weathers, but for some reason it is best done with a bit of a chill in the air. It adds to the achievement and you feel more deserving of a piece of cake when you come down again. It is also best done out of season, say in October, and in the morning when you will have the company of one or two others, perhaps a runner, the odd hare and maybe a cow.

There is a small bench half way up, set in a place so random you have to remember it is there and search for it – we like to sit for a while and contemplate as this is always best done with your head closer to the clouds. At the top, where the monument is placed, the sea is on all sides, stretching out to forever to the south. The north brings a glimpse of the solent and the sea and land beyond along the Dorset coast. Behind is a view of the island, always bigger and greener than expected. Birds do laps above your head or alongside you at cliff height. Stay for a while and then come back down, walk along the pebbled beach at Freshwater, before driving a short distance to the End of The Line Cafe for that cake.

Getting there
The monument was named for Lord Tennyson who used to walk on the down to get his inspiration. It stands at the highest point of Tennyson Down in Freshwater, on the west side of the island. We usually park along Afton Road and then walk towards the Albion hotel. Keep going and then turn left down a pathway where the public toilets are. Go through the gate on your right and you are at the bottom of the Down.

To get to the End of The Line Cafe
Drive down Afton Road, heading away from Freshwater Bay for about a mile. It is opposite the Co-op store. If you are lucky, get a seat close to the log-burning fire in the back room.