We live really close to the Isle Of Wight, walk a couple of miles along to our local beach and you can see the island. Apart from going to the festival there a couple of times we’ve not really visited the island though. And so when English Heritage asked if we’d like to an visit one of it’s attractions on the island I was all too keen to say ‘Yes please!’ And so yesterday Ozzy and I headed over in glorious sunshine to visit Osborne House, a royal seaside palace where Queen Victoria lived with Prince Albert and their nine children. I’m going to come clean and admit that I was initially concerned that although I mas really looking forward to visiting Osbourne House, maybe Ozzy might get a bit bored. The reality I’m happy to report, was that we both had a great time there and he’s already asking when we can go back.
What you can do at Osborne House as a family
Explore the House and gardens, we didn’t venture inside the House itself but we spoke to a number of visitors in the gardens, mainly as Ozzy ran up to everyone he saw and waved at them, and they all thoroughly recommended it.
Walk around the beautiful gardens at the house, there is plenty to see from statues to flowers to waterfalls. Ozzy was particularly taken with the statues and the gardens are great for exploring. Tomorrows ‘How Does Your Garden Grow? post will feature lots of photos of the gardens at Osborne House, you won’t want to miss them.
One thing you’ll see a lot of at Osborne House are butterflies. They dance around your heads and play in the long grass, Ozzy had a great time wading in long grass chasing them!
Walk down 1.2 kilometres from the House to the private beach (there’s also a courtesy minibus should you not be able to manage the walk).
The sight of the sea waiting for us excited Ozzy, I wanted to stay and admire the water lilies but Ozzy was off and away chasing butterflies again. One thing though – don’t forget to look back as the view of the House is impressive.
Walkin down to the beach is enjoyable and the bottom half of the walk is shaded by trees, giving much needed respite from the sun on hot Summers days. As you walk you’ll be greeted with the most wonderful smell of wild garlic, which really confused Ozzy “Eh? Mummy I can smell darlick!” – his speech still needs some development!
The beach itself is small but perfect, a mix of soft warm sand and tiny stones and shells. We had a lovely hour here, I dipped my hot feet in the cool sea and Ozzy threw half the small stones on the beach into the water. There are changing room s, very nice toilets, a cafe and deckchairs next to the beach.
From the beach you can either catch the courtesy minibus back to the House or walk back up. Ozzy decided we’d walk back up and in fairness to his little legs, he managed the walk well. If you are planning on taking children under 4 I’d suggest taking a pushchair as the walk is really enjoyable but harder work on the way back up.
Next we visited the Walled Gardens, Ozzy loved the little pathways in the walled garden and ran off exploring. The greenhouses are out of this world – again I’ll be posting lots of photos of the gardens tomorrow, but here’s a few to whet your whistle.
The shop at the entrance / exit is well worth checking out – some lovely plants and nice local products for sale inside, including free tasting sample of chutneys and preserves. I thought the Hot Garlic Pickle was awesome whilst Ozzy plumped for Lemon Curd.
Finally finishing at the Play Area – how he had energy left I do not know!
Handy and fun: Before visiting with children you can print out a copy of ’Step Inside Osborne House’ from the English Heritage website – available here.
We had a lovely time at Osborne House and it’s really opened my eyes to English Heritage sites near to me – I had no idea there are so many! To find your nearest English Heritage sites visit their website: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/
Ho to travel to Osborne House from Southampton without a car:
Prices (all correct at time of publication):
Red Funnel ferry travel: £7.65 each way for an adult, £3.85 for 5-15 year olds and age 4 and under travel free.
Info on fares and times can be found on the Red Funnel website: http://www.redfunnel.co.uk/
If you live in the New Forest like we do you might like to take advantage of the package deal where you can travel from Hythe to the Isle of Wight for £14.70. Departing from Hythe, the ticket gives you ferry travel from Hythe to the Red Funnel terminal and then from the terminal to Isle of Wight. More info. on this package and ferry times can be found on the Hythe Ferry website: http://www.hytheferry.co.uk/
Once you arrive at East Cowes:
Walk from the terminal and within a minute you’ll come to a small roundabout with a large Waitrose on the other side on the left hand side of the road. Cross over and you’ll see a bus shelter and bus top next to Waitrose. From here you can catch either the no. 4 or 5 buses, both stop at Osborne House and the drivers are good at shouting out when the stop is coming up. It’s only a 5 minute bus ride.
Route 5 – departs every 20 minutes Monday – Saturday and very 30 minutes on Sundays and Bank Holidays
Route 4 – departs hourly Monday to Sunday
Prices (correct at time of publication):
Adults £2.50 each way, single tickets only
Child £1.25 each way, single tickets only
Info on fares and times can be found on the Southern Vectis website: http://www.islandbuses.info/
Disclosure: I was sent an annual Media Pass that covers myself, Papasaurus, Kitty and Ozzy from English Hertiage in return for reviewing a couple of days out. We’ll be visiting and reporting back on more than that after this first super day out!