On a crisp winter’s day, wrap up warmly and head out to explore the Isle of Wight’s unspoilt coast and countryside, soaking up your daily dose of vitamin D and ﬁlling your lungs with some clean, coastal air. The National Trust look after ﬁve thousand acres of the Island’s countryside, as well as historic sites like Bembridge windmill, Mottistone Gardens (open from 7th March) and The Needles Old Battery. Their website details guided walks you can join, and has twenty different trails available to download, with maps and directions. If you’re planning a family walk, try following a Treasure Trail to keep children amused (there are two trails in Ventnor alone, and ten across the island), or use a geocaching app to ﬁnd locations with hidden containers that older children will enjoy seeking. Along the way, you’re also likely to spot some of the island’s wildlife residents - perhaps some red squirrels in the woods, a white-tailed eagle hovering above Culver Down, or even a seal basking in Newtown Creek.
If you prefer climbing trees to walking amongst them, get in touch with Goodleaf who will instruct anyone over the age of 8 (their oldest climber so far was 81 years old!) to climb a 15m high oak tree in Appley Park, Ryde. You can relax in the hammocks suspended in the trees boughs when you reach the top, and take in the views across the Solent to Portsmouth.
Rock-pooling at the nearest beach is a captivating activity for young children at any time of the year, while budding palaeontologists will relish a guided fossil hunt with an expert from the Dinosaur Museum near Sandown, or ‘the Fossil Man’ from Island Gems. Try and spot the dinosaur footprints that can be seen on Compton Bay beach at low tide, or search for your own fossilised remains - the Isle of Wight is one of the richest sources for discovery in Europe, and was named the UK’s Dinosaur Capital by the Natural History Museum.
From 22nd March, you can ride through the island’s countryside in a vintage steam train with Isle of Wight Steam Railway - hop on at Havenstreet Station, and look out for special events like Island Heritage Train Days. Or ride at a slower pace with Sally’s Riding School near Bembridge (01983-872260), which offers horse-riding outings for all abilities, including novice riders and young children. There’s something truly magical about riding a pony along an Island beach as the waves lap at the sandy shore nearby.
If you’re feeling creative, head to Chessell Pottery near Yarmouth and print your own designs onto a choice of bisque pottery (you’ll need to return a few days later to collect your ﬁred pottery). Or if it’s culture you crave, visit the Ventnor Exchange which stages live comedy, puppetry, and theatre throughout February and March, as well as a weekly Games Night - open to all every Wednesday evening. Quay Arts in Newport has an equally stimulating calendar of music, theatre, comedy and ﬁlm, and hosts regular workshops for children and adults for everything from pottery and paper decorating to clay sculpture and jewellery making: check their website for a full listing.
Closer to ‘home’, near The Royal, Ventnor Botanic Gardens is more than just Britain’s hottest garden; within these exotic grounds, you’ll also ﬁnd a range of wellbeing classes on offer, including Tai Chi, yoga, and Qigong, as well as a variety of garden, music, and food and drink events throughout the year - visit their website or Facebook page to ﬁnd out what’s on during your visit to the island.