Our Guide to Freshwater Holidays
Freshwater is the largest village in the west Wight. There is a small shopping street with The Memorial Hall at one end hosting Saturday table top sales or vegetable shows. At the other end of the village is a garden centre and a lovely little cafe where the old railway station used to be. The End of the Line is outstanding and used by locals because of its great food and good value.
Along Terrace lane is Dimbola Lodge. The home of Julia Margaret Cameron is now a photography museum and home to examples of early equipment as well as lots of old photographs, especially of the “Tennyson Set" including Alfred, Lord Tennyson, displayed in the galleries. . The beautiful house and the tea rooms are fabulous.
Situated just a short walk from Freshwater Bay beach. Dimbola Lodge is also home to photographs of the original IOW festival in 1970. There is a wide range of photographic exhibits here and is well worth a visit. The parking is free and there’s good access for wheelchairs to the ground floor, they also have a chair lift to the upper floor.
Freshwater Bay beach is heavenly. Set in a beautiful Bay, the beach is a mix of stone and chalk stone. The beach is good for swimming or sunbathing. On the right side, high on the cliff there is the old Fort Redoubt, now a private home. As dusk falls the bay is a picture postcard of gentle lapping water and silent moored boats with their lights twinkling.
As with a lot of the west Wight, there is very little light pollution, so stargazing from Freshwater beach is a joy. There is a small tearoom on the road at the rear of the beach and a ticketed car park as well as the Freshwater Inshore Lifeboat and its shop.
From the bay, there is a magnificent walk along the grassland up to Tennysons monument. What a terrific view is waiting for you at the top. You will need good walking footwear here as there are no pathways. From Tennysons monument follow the pathway through the copse and down past the car park to Highdown Lane.
Stay on this road to the junction with Moons Hill and you will meet one of the best pubs in the west Wight. The Highdown Inn offers excellent food. Not only, as you would expect, excellent seafood but, depending on the season, local caught game too. The Highdown is a pub for all seasons, a proper old Inn: in summer surrounded by wonderful walks and scenery and in colder months a roaring fire and hearty food. Well-kept beer and a selection of real ales make the walk worth it.
If you would prefer to have an outstanding sea view while you eat then you should go to the Waterfront. Situated very slightly outside of Freshwater at Totland Bay this is a superb location for the whole family. The Waterfront does have chargeable parking but, if your bill is over £20, they take the parking charge off. You can choose from a range of real ales and the menu is extensive. There is a decked seating area where the dog can have a bowl of water too. The food is freshly cooked and absolutely delicious.
Places to visit in Freshwater
If you decide to go to the end of the island you will find the most famous landmark perhaps in the UK - the Needles Lighthouse and the Needles battery which was the sight of rocket testing and even moon rocket development. There is a huge amount of history in the displays and exhibits at the old battery plus an excellent tea room and the views not bad either.
The Old Battery is only accessible on foot or by the Breezer bus which is an open topped vehicle running between Yarmouth (by the ferry terminal) and The Needles. You pay once and can hop on and off as many times as you like during the day, there is also a commentary so you know what you’re seeing on the route.