Say Cowes and immediately you conjure up a nautical picture, Cowes Week in August and yachts with billowing white sails. You don’t have to be a yachty to enjoy Cowes as I found out when I took a short break there at the end of our glorious summer. Did I say glorious, summer and England in the same sentence? Well I didn’t say England but I inferred it! and yes we grew into our summer this year and it hung around a little longer than usual….much welcomed I’d say and I’m sure tourist services in this country welcomed it too.
He who likes to think he is obeyed and The Grey Traveller used Wightlink from Portsmouth to Fishbourne, but the island is also served by Red Funnel from Southampton to Cowes and Wightlink also offer a service from Lymington to Yarmouth. With the island being so small it is easy to reach anywhere from Cowes so its a good location if you like walking, exploring or chilling. You can more or less reach anywhere on the island within a 30 – 40 minute car drive.
Geographically the island looks like a plaice broken off from the mainland with Cowes looking like it used to neatly fit into Southampton Water many thousands of years ago. This little bit of England offers a big drop of relaxation where there are quieter roads and seemingly to me a more laid back and slower lifestyle.
We stayed at the Caledon Guest House conveniently located a five minute walk from the town, from there you can reach numerous shops, very good quality eateries, the beautiful coastal path and the ferry to East Cowes (and Osborne House).
The walk to Gurnard westward from Cowes along the coast is worth a try even if you are not serious walkers. The promenade called quite exotically Egypt Esplanade leads you into Gurnard and there the very nice Watersedge Beach cafe will refresh and break your walk. It takes about half an hour from Cowes and of course you can continue the Isle of Wight Coastal Path all round the island!
Cowes has a mix of shops perhaps dominated by a nautical theme and the town is easy to navigate. The eateries offer a mix of styles and cuisine and of course fish frequents the menus substantially. We especially liked The Yachtsman with its unique decor….lots of book lined shelves and its outside seating area where we could view the Solent and the members of the Royal Yacht Squadron walk by in their finery for no doubt a special ball…..unless people always dress up like that in Cowes!
We also enjoyed the The Coast Bar a trendy mix of washed wooden tables, open brickwork and a selection of gins! I was introduced to The Botanist a really refreshing gin decorated with a raspberry and a sliver of lime. It’s great sitting outside watching others get about on their Saturday evening…we could even hear a band from a bar across the way. Loved the haddock and chive fishcakes… thank you Coast!
So ambling back to The Caledon Guest House we stopped at The Pier a friendly pub on the main shopping road.
As the shops start to dwindle westwards we found some interesting houses built with Rounded turrets and I always say to explorers and travellers alike…..look up not down, there are some really beautiful buildings in Cowes. Once past the shops we found ourselves on the wide promenade where you can just sit and watch the boats preferably with a ice cream from the Bliss Ice Cream Parlour and yes the local Minghella Scillian Lemon or the White Chocolate are sheer bliss I kid you not!