Is the Solent the most expensive ferry crossing in the world?

Moaning about the price of Solent crossings is a national sport on the Isle of Wight.

“The Solent is one of the most expensive stretches of water in the world.” Jane Knight, The Independent 

“It’s often mooted that mile for mile, the Solent is the most expensive stretch of water to cross in Europe and … it’s quite believable.” On The Wight

“It has long been contended The Solent is the most expensive stretch of water in the world to cross” David McKinley, IWCP letters

“If I remember correctly, the Solent is the most expensive stretch of water to cross in the universe. or something.” Tank Girl, Urban75 Forums

I have often heard this repeated, but, having been on many other ferries, I still have my doubts. So I thought I’d check up on the figures – read on to see my results.

Continue reading Is the Solent the most expensive ferry crossing in the world?

Angry acid-spitting creatures in Parkhurst Forest

The refurbished red squirrel hide at Parkhurst Forest was launched this weekend by Gift to Nature. I was there to take a guided walk and also a group of children from Hunnyhill Primary School round and show them the hide, plus a few other things!

I promised that I’d show the visitors angry acid-spitting animals – and I did! Parkhurst has some suitably irate wood ants, and by teasing them with a bit of litmus paper on a stick we could demonstrate that they genuinely do spit acid.  Continue reading Angry acid-spitting creatures in Parkhurst Forest

Under the Pier

“Ever seen a sponge garden or spotted a star ascidian? Now’s your chance! Join Spectrum’s Natural Wight and Ian Boyd from Arc for a unique rockpooling opportunity and discover the amazing array of marine life living under Ryde Pier.”

This is the video we made when we accepted that invitation on a sunny Ryde afternoon. have a look at the fun on the sand, and some of the exciting marine wildlife we saw. Not to mention how far out we went!

Isle of Wight Natural Area profile: what it is and why you should read it

The government’s advisor on the natural environment, Natural England, has just published the long-awaited Natural Character Area profile for the Isle of Wight.Isle of Wight Natural Area ProfileSounds dull? It isn’t. NCA profiles are being compiled for the whole of England, and each one is an in-depth analysis of the landscape, wildlife and human activity within one of England’s 159 Natural Character Areas. It’s not an action plan but it does have some “Statements of Environmental Opportunity” which mostly prove to be longwinded ways to make some pretty obvious suggestions for priorities if we want to conserve and enhance our natural area.  And given how we have done so far, obvious suggestions are not at all a bad thing. Continue reading Isle of Wight Natural Area profile: what it is and why you should read it

Is the Isle of Wight bigger than Rutland at low tide?

Is the Isle of Wight bigger than Rutland at low tide? This question has been having a bit of a battle on the Isle of Wight page at Wikipedia. The Ranger is interested in this question, for, although like much of Wikipedian debate it involves dancing on the head of a pin, it also raises some interesting questions and sheds light on current proposals.

Hambleton Hall, Rutland © Niko
Some place in Rutland

Continue reading Is the Isle of Wight bigger than Rutland at low tide?

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 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 A petrifying walk on the beach