Properties for sale in Isle of Wight

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Isle of Wight Area Guide

The Needles, Isle of Wight Image courtesy of Flickr user Ped Saunders

Sitting about three to five miles off the English coast, the Isle of Wight is separated from the mainland of England by a straight known as the Solent. It is only the smallest county in Britain at high tide: when the tide is out, it is slightly larger than Rutland.

The island is often called "England in Miniature", thanks largely to its varied landscapes. The western end of the island is largely rural, and it has been designated the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The very western tip ends with the Needles, one of the most famous natural formations on the island.

Because of its isolation from the mainland, the Isle of Wight is home to many protected species. There are no grey squirrels on the island, so the native red squirrel is flourishing. Dormice, rare bats and the Glanville Fritillary butterfly have found refuge on the island.

The Isle of Wight has long been a desirable destination. It is warmer and sunnier than most places in the country, making it attractive to many people. Both Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Queen Victoria lived here.

The main towns on the Isle of Wight include Newport, the county town. Ryde is the largest town on the island, and Cowes is the home of an international sailing centre. East Cowes is where the hovercraft was invented and where engineering company Saunders-Roe Limited was based. Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor attract many tourists to their golf courses, beaches and bays.

Demographics

There are currently 140,500 people living on the island. Ryde has the most residents, with 18,800 people living there, and Newport is the next largest, with 17,300.

The general population is older than the national average: 24% of the island is aged 65 and over, compared to the national average of about 16.5%. There are also fewer young people, with 15% of the county aged 14 and younger. The national average for this age range is about 17.5%.

Education

The Isle of Wight had had a three-tier school system consisting of primary, middle and high schools, but a transition to a two-tier system of just primary and secondary schools was undertaken in 2008, amidst protests over plans to close some schools. The transition now has largely been completed. Still, many of the new or newly reorganised secondary schools have yet to be examined by Ofsted, leading to a lack of reliable ratings.

Primary schools rated outstanding by Ofsted include Newchurch Primary School and Northwood Primary School. Top secondary schools include Ryde Academy and the independent Ryde School.

Transport

The Isle of Wight has major roads connecting all the major towns, as well as smaller roads joining up the villages. A bus service run by Southern Vectis serves most of the island, with a hub in Newport.

The island used to have its own rail network, but now only the Island line is still in use. Running from Ryde to Shanklin, it is less than nine miles long. Much more comprehensive are the island's cycle routes. There are over 200 miles of cycle paths and routes, most of which are off-road.

There are four ferry services. These run from Southampton to Cowes, from Portsmouth to Ryde, from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and from Lymington to Yarmouth. Perhaps the coolest way to get on and off the island - hovercrafts run from Ryde to Southsea in Portsmouth.

Amenities and Shopping

For such a small island, the Isle of Wight has many amenities and attractions, hence many tourists flock to the island each year.

Shopping and nightlife

Much of the county's shopping can be found the Newport, where most high street shops can be found. Each town has its own selection of boutiques and family-run shops, selling everything from antiques and gifts to jewellery and local produce.

There are a great many pubs and restaurants serving locally sourced food and drink. There are three breweries on the island, supplying residents and visitors with award-winning ales, bitters and other beers.

Festivals

The island hosts two incredibly famous festivals. The Isle of Wight Festival is famous for being one of the last places to host Jimi Hendrix (in 1970), and it now attracts around 60,000 people each year to the island. Bestival is known for attracting international dance, pop and rock acts and DJs, and in 2010 it set the Guinness World Record for most people in fancy dress at one time.

Sport

While there are no professional football teams on the island, there is an Isle of Wight Saturday Football League, as well as many of the country's best beach football clubs.

Cricket is popular on the island, with the Isle of Wight Cricket Board organising an internal cricket league, and Ventnor Cricket Club playing in the Southern Premier League.

The Isle of Wight Hockey Club has three senior and one junior team, as well as a ladies team. The island also hosts the Wightlink Raiders, an ice hockey team based in Ryde; amateur ice hockey team the Vectis Tigers and four youth teams. The Isle of Wight is also home to speedway team the Isle of Wight Islanders.

The island hosts several sporting events, especially in cycling. One of the best places for cycling in the world, it hosts the Isle of Wight Randonnée and the Isle of Wight Cycling Festival. The island also hosts the country's oldest continuously held marathon, the Isle of Wight Marathon.

For fans of water sports, Cowes Week is an internationally renowned racing regatta, attracting over 1000 yachts and 8500 competitors each year. The Isle of Wight also hosts sailing events like the Fastnet Race, the Round the Island Race, the Commodore's Cup and the Admiral's Cup.

Those who prefer adventure in the great outdoors are well served on the island, where there are opportunities to kayak in the sea, ride horses, play golf, walk, cycle and more.

Whilst every effort has been taken to ensure the above information is up to date, some inaccuracies may occur. If you notice any inaccuracies please contact editor@primelocation.com

All information was correct at time of publication and is provided in good faith.