PUBLISHED: 12:04 04 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:58 04 November 2014
If you are scratching your head for a new place to visit for a family getaway, why not follow the lead of the Victorians and head to the Isle of Wight? Tim Saunders did
A breath of fresh air.
That sums up the Isle of Wight in more ways than one. You see, not only is it renowned for its clean air, but many of the facilities and attractions are also of a high standard.
‘The Victorians visited the island for its superior air quality, which promoted good health,’ explains Cherry Sanders, co-owner of Appuldurcombe Gardens Caravan and Camping Site at Ventnor, where we stayed in a static caravan. ‘I originally come from the Midlands, but moved here 12 years ago to live my mum’s dream of running a holiday business here.’
The 14.5-acre site has 40 static caravans and 130 pitches for camping. It was a finalist in the Practical Caravan Top 100 Sites 2013 awards, testament to its excellent facilities, which include an award-winning toilet block with walk-in showers.
There’s also a delightful heated outdoor swimming pool, which opens from 8am to 9pm, and no matter when you swim it is just the right temperature. The children’s play area includes swings, a slide and an assault course, which Harriett (our three year old) completes. I know few other campsites that boast a duck pond and holds a David Bellamy Gold Award for Conservation.
Our static caravan is a good base from which to explore the island. We quickly realised that our limited time here will not allow us to cover everything that we wanted to and so we picked a few attractions to visit.
As we are staying at Appuldurcombe Gardens, we couldn’t not visit Appuldurcombe House and Farm Park, because at one time this was all one site and so all the gardens here and the orchard in the campsite have been designed by Capability Brown.
Appuldurcombe House and Farm Park is literally just up the road from the campsite and is now run by English Heritage. There are two separate entrance fees for each attraction. Both are well worth a visit and between them make a fabulous day out. The house, when inhabited, was the largest private house on the island with 365 windows and seven staircases.
We enjoyed a picnic in the grounds where the children roam free. The farm park is home to a variety of birds including owls, falcons and an eagle. There is so much to learn including how when falconry was introduced in 860AD in the UK it was only kings who were allowed to fly eagles. Apparently falcons live twice as long in captivity because they don’t have to work as hard, so will live for 20 years.