Category Archives: Isle of Wight

Why Queen Victoria’s secret beach should remain secret

Evicted from his office by the noisy Isle of Wight Festival today, the Ranger instead spent the day on a tour of the Osborne Estate, Queen Victoria’s island retreat, still lovingly maintained much as she left it. Just occasionally there are privileges associated with being a Ranger, and today was one of those rare moments. Although Osborne is a fantastic visit for the paying guest – highly recommended, if you’re wondering – much of the estate is not open to the public, and so this was the first time the Ranger had ever been around many of the quieter corners of this royal estate, including Queen Victoria’s own beach at Osborne Bay, one of the very few private beaches on the Solent. It was an extraordinary experience. A few images will perhaps serve to convey a little of the splendour of that isolated cove. Apologies to those who subscribe by email but if you want to see them you’re just going to have look at the webpage.

Sign at Osborne Bay
The public have no access here

Tippers’ Walk the Wight timelapse

A wonderful bit of rapid-fire sightseeing from IW media personality and Twitter impresario Tippers.

Tippers writes:

Walk the Wight is an annual event on the Isle of Wight to raise money for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. It is a 26.5 mile trek from one end of the island to the other. Along the way, you encounter some pretty rough terrain and some killer, seemingly everlasting, hills. Every year, some 10,000 plus people enter and raise thousands for a very good cause.

A Day in the Life: Sandown Bay

I like to have a good moan and rant, as regular readers will be aware. But it’s also worth standing back sometimes to remember just why I do the job I do, and why it’s so great. My friends over at myisleofwight.com have helped me do just that with this exquisite video homage to the town I grew up in, the beaches I played on as a child, and still work (and play) on today.

(We recommend you go fullscreen and turn up your speakers for the full effect) You see, you don’t have to go all retro and nostalgic to enjoy a holiday on the Isle of Wight – although by all means do if you want. This stuff is still going on, every sunny day of the summer. I love it.

A petrifying walk on the beach

The Isle of Wight’s geology is something that it’s easy to see – so much of it is on display at the edges… and we’ve got lots of edges. What’s more, there’s a massive variety of it, and it includes those all-important dinosaur fossils that make the headlines and draw the tourists. Most dinosaur-hunters end up going to the spectacular south-west coast of the Island, maybe to see the famous dinosaur footprints at Hanover Point, for example. A less well-known attraction is the petrified forest in the north end of Sandown Bay. Locals have long known that at very low tides, fragments of petrified wood can be found washed up on the shore.

Petrified wood, Yaverland

This week, the Ranger was lucky enough to find one. Continue reading

The Isle of Wight Star party

The Ranger was privileged to get an invitation to a special party on the Isle of Wight this weekend. Astronomy enthusiasts from across the south-east of England know that the south-west part of the Isle of Wight has some of the darkest skies in the region – and because of the nice weather it also has the advantage of a good chance of a clear sky.

Leo Triplet from iowstarparty with Televue Genesis © Richie Jarvis

Leo Triplet from iowstarparty with Televue Genesis
© Richie Jarvis @richiedeepsky
See full size image here – worth looking at

Brighstone holiday camp on the south-west coast has a great outlook over the unlit English Channel, and the bulk of the downs to prevent the light from the mainland leaking over. It really is pretty dark down there so I was delighted when Dr Lucy Rogers of the Vectis Astronomical Society used Twitter to invite me to come and see this important part of the Island’s natural resource for myself. This was no public meeting either, a star party is where the astronomers are on their own territory – so as a neophyte I was lucky to get such a well-qualified guide to introduce me to this extraordinary event. Continue reading

Snow Patrol: the not-so-virtual ranger

It’s been a long time but at last the Ranger can report that he’s actually done an honest day’s work. Or rather, night’s work. The worst snow on the Isle of Wight for thirty years has been responsible for me putting on my ranger boots again and getting out there.

Countryside rangers' Land-Rover in the snow

In my previous post about snow on the Island I reported:

…my days of dashing around in emergencies are probably past… mind you, if this carries on for a few more days the rangers will need some sleep and even I might have to dust off my hi-vis jacket.

Anyone who’s been following me on Twitter will now know that exactly that did happen, and I spent all last night on emergency driving duties around the Island. Read on to see how I got on. Continue reading

The Isle of Wight’s last unicorn

There’s sad news on the Isle of Wight as the impending closure of the Isle of Wight Wax Works Museum has been announced. This attraction – along with some of its exhibits – began delighting and horrifying children and their parents in 1965, and so its demise marks a loss of part of the background to the Ranger’s life.

The Isle of Wight's last unicorn

As well as the traditional historical tableaux, the waxworks includes a diverse range of other collections; most memorably the Chamber of Horrors, and Professor Copperthwaite’s Collection of Oddities. In this latter collection, alongside more traditional examples of the taxidermist’s art can be found some remarkable freaks and oddities, presented pretty much as one might have seen them in a nineteenth-century freak show. This maudlin-looking unicorn is one of them, offered with the advice that one could capture one only with the assistance of “a virgin, preferably both voluptuous and naked”. Taxidermy is hardly a fashionable art these days, and the bizarre exhibits here look every bit as ancient as they must be… but there’s an undefinable directness about these creepy things that no amount of photoshopping can emulate. It’ll be a shame when they are gone. There’s not much else like this any more, nor ever likely to be again. Continue reading

Anarchist scooterists invade Ryde

Every August bank holiday an extraordinary thing happens in the Ranger’s home town of Ryde, on the Isle of Wight. Estimates of numbers vary widely but certainly more than 2,000 scooters and their riders descend upon the town for the Ryde International Scooter Rally.

Scooters, Ryde

Scooters of all sorts – and I do mean all sorts – fill the town. The air is literally blue with two-stroke fumes and the buzzing of tinny engines is a constant drone throughout the weekend. Various events go on, and there is music and jollity, but the main event is the Sunday ride-out, when all the scooters gather on the seafront before riding off to some location on the Island. They dress up in remarkable costumes and drive some bizarrely-customised machines. This has become a big spectator event, and crowds of locals come out to line the streets, waving the scooterists off on their parade. It’s fun, and quite a spectacle. But it’s particularly interesting to me because of something unusual about this event: nobody organises it. It just happens, and for one weekend Ryde’s parks, streets and pavements are full to bursting with scooters. This is striking to a public servant like myself who spends a lot of the rest of the year hiring out these same parks for public events – checking insurance, taking fees, policing disputes between neighbours, and all the million-and-one things that local councils are obliged to do. And yet this big, internationally-renowned event just happens. How does that come about? Continue reading

Hare restorers!

The Arreton Hare – previously stolen – is back in place and tonight a merry band of hare enthusiasts gathered at the full moon to mark his return with a suitable celebration.

Paul Sivell and the restored hare

Arreton Parish Council, Gift to Nature, Island 2000 and the Isle of Wight Council were all represented at the informal gathering at the White Lion pub, Arreton. The pub’s regulars have been generously collecting towards the restoration costs, and the party checked out the quality of the beer before setting off up the dark road to Arreton Cross to see the full moon shining down upon the hare, now reunited with his magpie friends. Continue reading