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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Dimmock

Island hopping

Updated: Aug 18, 2021

On Saturday 19th September, we had a free weekend so decided very last minute to hot foot it over to the Isle of Wight. This was not before I had spent quite some time on Google flights randomly looking at places to go, before realising we'd have to quarantine on the way back from an awful lot of countries! The car ferry was booked the night before with Wightlink sailing from Portsmouth to Fishbourne and cost £101. In the end, driving and being able to take our bags and even a travel cot if needed around very easily is a definite winner when "backpacking" with a baby.

From our weekday home in Witley, Surrey, we "checked in" at the port at 10.30am - no need for tickets or QR codes as they just have a number plate recognition system at the port. Up you drive to a loading area, where I had my first of several full changes of Tiger's clothes from being carsick, then loaded onto the ferry itself. It is only a 45 minute trip but plenty of time to wander around the ship and get the sea air in our hair. Also, I think, first time Tiger has been on a boat?

From Fishbourne we drove to the Isle of Wight Zoo. It's a small zoo, but it's quite cheap at £10.66 per adult (Tiger is still free) and we saw lions, tigers (yay!), goats, monkeys and really enjoyed the tiger themed playground at the end!

From the zoo, Tiger had a sleep and we drove onwards to donkey sanctuary. There's no entry ticket here, but I paid a £5 donation and Tiger made friends with a Shetland pony!

From here, we drove onwards to the Wight Mouse Inn which is near to Blackgang right on the south of the island. We'd managed to bag their very last room for £99, they provided a travel cot and - yes - it fitted in the bathroom, just!

Just before dinner and bed, we went to the Blackgang viewpoint! Then back to the hotel to wear Tiger out on the playground and to have a reasonably fun dinner of thai curry and pasta. The highlight was Tiger's chocolate ice cream!

On Sunday 20th September, we headed to the Needles. We walked out along the coastal path, then into the Alum glass shop and the sand shop! There is a chair lift down to the beach from where you can take boat trips, but this looked too much of a risk for a wriggly toddler and I just didn't think she would sit still, so we passed.

After a quick nap in the car, we went onwards to see alpacas and chickens at West White Alpacas where the entry ticket was £8.50. So sweet watching Tiger feed them!

Our final tourist destination of the day was to the Isle of Wight Steam Railway where we just about got on our coach for the final trip of the day at 4pm. The train goes from Haven Street station to Smallbrook, then passing Havenstreet, to Wooton - a ten mile stretch which takes about an hour. We saw the steam engine pass us as it changed ends. Tiger was pretty busy climbing all over the carriage (thank you Covid as each family has their own carriage so we didn't annoy anyone else!) and looking out of the window. I managed to actually sit down for a bit! Tickets were only £13.50 per adult (Tiger was free) and we loved it.

At Haven Street we were actually closer than we'd thought to Fishbourne so headed to the Fishbourne Inn for a quick snack before getting on the ferry. We were on the 7pm sailing so we got to see the sunset. A beautiful weekend and fabulous to sink into our bed/cot when we got home to Witley.

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