We arrived at Southland C&MC Site just outside the village of Newchurch in the Arreton Valley area. It’s located on the more popular (tourist-wise) South East-ish side of the island, and we deemed it an ideal base for exploring places such as Sandown, Shanklin, and Ventnor.
Newchurch itself (just a couple of mins away by push bike) has a very nice inn, The Pointer Inn, where we had pre-booked a table for our first evening. We found this to be our favourite pub over the other nearby one, The Fighting Cocks which is a mile away. The Fighting Cocks is a very popular pub for families though.
Southland C&MC Site is beautifully kept and well laid out, offering many pitches, grass or hardstanding and some are serviced. The wardens were extremely welcoming, friendly and helpful re local information and there’s also an info hut worth perusing. The facilities looked well up to the club standards you’d expect but as usual we used our own.
On the day of our arrival, we were spoilt for choice of vacant pitches as many people seemed to have left that morning (nothing to do with our arrival!). We pitched up on pitch 178, a hard standing pitch with a small privacy hedge to the side. It offered great all day sunshine too. All pitches are a generous size though and finding something to suit whatever preferences you have isn’t difficult.
It was a blisteringly hot day on arrival and so, after a long journey, we just pitched up and enjoyed a few hours sitting in the sunshine with a glass of bubbly watching buzzards flying overhead.
After lounging we hopped on the bikes and cycled to The Pointer Inn for dinner.
Next day, we decided to hop on our bikes and cycle 6 miles to the old Victorian seaside resort of Ventnor.
On our way we called in at the Isle of Wight Donkey Sanctuary at Lower Winstone Farm in Wroxall.
We spent an hour or so there meeting the donkeys and also a few Shetland ponies. This Sanctuary does amazing work and is totally reliant on charity so although its free to enter, donations are desperately needed. You can also contribute by adopting a donkey. We left our donations and had a coffee in the cafe during our wander around. Please pop in if in the area, its well worth a visit to meet these wonderful animals.
Afterwards, we climbed back on our bikes and cycled the hilly roads towards Ventnor. While cycling along, Suzie spotted 2 snakes writhing around by the roadside (this significantly increased our pace up the hill).
Upon Google investigation later on, however, it turns out that they were more than likely slow worms, a type of legless lizard (Latin name Anguis Fragilis). We weren’t at all keen on this encounter (Latin term Maximus Scaredycatus).
Ventnor was worth the effort. We finished off by pushing the bikes down some of the steeper sections towards the beach. As you arrive down the long and winding road, the Spyglass Inn comes into view. The location of this inn is superb as it’s right on the rocks overlooking the bay with the sound of waves crashing and sea views as far as the eye can see. For us though, the best find had to be the Crab & Lobster Tap on Grove Road which we discovered as we started our ascent from the bay. It is purportedly the oldest Inn on the whole of the Isle of Wight, holding the oldest licence.
After having spent a couple of hours taking in this pretty resort we began our climb out. Our plan was to head to a pub called the Bonchurch Inn for tea on the way back to site. We’d read about it on another online blog. Unfortunately, unbeknown to us at the time, the photo that had been used on the blog was of a completely different inn in a different resort. And so began our wild goose chase. An uphill wild goose chase. It was challenging and became more of a walk than a bike ride as we just seemed to climb and climb and climb and … you get the picture.
While we’re sure it was a nice enough place, the pizza takeaway restaurant wasn’t the beachside, thatched, historical inn we were after. Our Bonchurch detour wasn’t without interest though. We passed a charming, tiny, medieval church – St Boniface Old Church.
We also came across a grand looking house with a blue plaque dedicated to Henry De Vere Stacpoole. We’d never heard of him but another Google investigation informed us that he was an Irish ship doctor turned poet and author who managed to live comfortably in later life off the success of his romance novel ‘The Blue Lagoon’ which was adapted into film.
So there you go, at least the afternoon was educational!
Following our history lesson and now 6.5 miles from site, we rang for a taxi to collect us and our bikes. This was a first for us but absolutely the right decision because our taxi journey home was ALL uphill. We must’ve covered more area than we thought during the day. We slept very well that night 😴😴 ready for more exploring the next day.
Suzie & Bri