A few weeks ago I had a magical weekend, and I’ve finally got a spare second to reflect.
After a full week of classes in Cambridge, my friends and I took off for the Isle of Wight, an Island “forgotten by time,” as they say. A place of retreat into natural beauty and the sights and sounds of what I have always imagined to be the quintessential English town, all by the sea.
I was first made aware of the Isle of Wight by one of my professors from my home university who grew up on the island. She mentioned that I had to make a trip down while I was in England and after a little research and some help we figured out how to make the trek. I gathered a few friends from my program here and we were off. We left from London in the morning to arrive in the historic town of Portsmouth for a Ferry to Ryde.
From the moment that you arrive, it is a picturesque affair.
The ferry crosses the Solent, with its bright blue waters and Island rising in the distance, and drops you at the edge of the water to walk along a pier that houses the railway and over the beach where the whole of the town unfolds before you. You can then explore the beach, with its rippling sand and shallow waters from low-tide or mosey through the city. On the day that we went it began rather cold and rainy, much in the style of England, and the beach itself reminded me of the beaches in the Northwest, except somehow more sparse – where in the Northwest the weather might be mirrored and the rockiness and puddles left from an earlier-high-tide may echo that of the English seaside, it seemed more vibrant here and thankfully more empty of people (at least at this stop). Maybe the novelty of being in England had something to do with that… or maybe it is the fact that the Isle of Wight is ethereal.
We began our morning with a walk along the beach where I was awarded a special sight: WE FOUND A RAPUNZEL CASTLE.
I have made no effort to disguise my affinity for Disney princesses, and I have especially made no effort to pretend that I am not completely obsessed with Rapunzel. The beach itself was striking, but I didn’t feel the weight of an emotional breakdown brought about by extreme amounts of happiness until I saw the castle-esque monument rising in the distance. Naturally I spent the majority of my time open-mouth gaping at the structure reminiscent of all of my aspirations.
I tried to remain calm, but I’m positive I failed, as evidenced by the series of photos taken of me in the aftermath entirely enthralled by the majestic tower.
Once I recovered we made our way down to the water – where I was the only one to have had the foresight of wearing my bathing suit under my clothes and naturally had to take a dive, more for the principle (and to test my GoPro’s underwater capabilities) than anything else. We spent some time in the British waves saying our oooh’s and ahhh’s over the sight before us, naturally transitioning into a dance sesh, because what else do you do when you’re knee deep in the ocean water shivering in the cold and overly excited from your adventure? Obviously sing Justin Bieber at the top of your lungs and dance your heart out.
After a short swim and a lost pair of flip-flops eaten up by the waves (may they rest in pieces) we stopped for a quick bite of Mr. Whippys, which is my favorite sweet treat because its literally like eating straight whipped cream but its classified as ice cream, and I was a happy and soaked-through camper by the time we reached the bus which would take us to the other side of the island to spend some time at the Needles.
Fun fact, The Needles (a rock formation that stretches into the ocean) on the Isle of Wight is registered as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and upon our arrival it wasn’t too hard to imagine how they had earned their title. (To put into perspective how breathtaking the island is, consider this fact: over half of it has been classified as AONB.)
You reach The Needles via a hike or the iconic chairlift, we chose the later.
At the peak of the mountain, the descent reveals the famous beach, the white chalk stacks braced against vibrant waters and orange cliffs behind the rocky shore. My jaw dropped so far I was surprised to find it hadn’t come unhinged. It had warmed since our romp in Ryde and we found ourselves a place on the shore, kicking our way through the pebbled beach to drink in the grandeur.
We stayed for as long as we could without missing our ferry and then made our way back to Ryde to round out the day with an island specialty: crab and chips. All was right with the world.
The Isle of Wight was breathtaking from the moment we arrived to the moment that we left. I couldn’t have asked for better company or a better beach day.
Watch the vlog of our journey here:
Until next time, wonder on.