Ryde is a quaint seaside resort on the northeast coast of the Isle of Wight, straddling the Solent River and looking out over Portsmouth.
The town began to attract wealthy tourists in the early 1800s, and the streets are filled with palatial late Georgian and Victorian buildings, all the way to the waterfront Esplanade.
Ryde’s beaches are long, clean and sandy, and the resort’s playground, road train and Lido will keep the kids on board.
Ryde has the world’s only year-round hovercraft route, from Southsea to Ryde’s Hoverport in just 10 minutes, next to a 19th century pier.
1. Ryde Beach
The beach starts east of Hoverport and stretches for just over a mile to Puckpool Head, becoming Appley Beach on the way.
Ryde Beach is the place to be if you’re traveling with kids or want to have plenty of amenities nearby.
The resort’s waterfront features a playground, permanent playground, children’s play area, a popular open-air swimming pool, a boating lake, and a variety of cafes and restaurants.
On sunny afternoons, you can rent deck chairs and watch the yachts sail on the Solent.
The beach is guarded by lifeguards in the summer and the current is light as it has its back to the Solent to England.
At low tide, you may be shocked by how much the water recedes, and you will occasionally find boats stranded on sandbars.
2. Quar Abbey
In the quiet countryside between Ryde and Fishbourne to the west is a working Benedictine monastery.
Quar Abbey existed in the Middle Ages as a Cistercian abbey, founded in 1132 and later dissolved by Henry VIII during the Reformation.
The ruins of domestic buildings are some of the most extensive of all medieval abbeys in England, including part of the infirmary church, some refectory and kitchens, fraternity quarters and a timber shop.
The modern Abbey of Quarle was moved here from France at the turn of the 20th century, and in 1912 new abbey buildings and a church were constructed, now a Grade 1 monument.
The building is a stunning fusion of French Gothic, Moorish and Byzantine, made of bricks fired in Belgium.
The monastery houses a visitor center, art gallery and farm shop selling ale, cider, juice, fruit, vegetables and other items produced by the monks.
3. Appleley Beach
Along the paved garden walk, Appley Beach is on the east side of town and merges with Ryde Beach, offering the same spotless golden sand and calm waters.
At Appley Beach, you’ll feel like you’ve left the resort.
Behind it is Appley Park, with its wooded hillside, and a handsome neo-Gothic tower, which we’ll discuss below.
Like Ryde Beach, the beach stretches for hundreds of meters at low tide and is still lovely when entering the water.
In this quiet corner of Ryde you can trade peace for amenities and entertainment, but at the west end is Appley Beach Cafe, which has a balcony overlooking the beach with views of Portsmouth.
4. Goodleaf Tree Climbing
For an unusual family activity, you can climb a 21-meter-tall mature oak tree in Appley Park, right by the beach.
Founded in 2005 by a New Zealander, Goodleaf offers helmets, harnesses and climbing coaching. Climbing this tree is not the same as climbing a wall, and overcoming the challenge will be rewarding, whether you want to go straight to the top or as far as you feel comfortable.
In the canopy, you can relax on the branches or even try a treetop hammock.
Back on land, you can relax on a picnic blanket with a cup of tea and a homemade pancake.
5. Isle of Wight Bus Museum
The Old South Wiktes Bus Station on Parkway is the site of a collection of more than 20 buses for nearly a century.
The oldest of these is a 1927 Daimler CK, but with an older Dodson body.
There is a great 20 Dennis Ace from 1934, restored to its 1934 appearance.
This is a local vehicle running the Ryde – Alum Bay route, stopping at the long gone Ryde Airport.
There’s a lovely pair of double decker tour buses from the 30’s and 40’s, as well as an open rear platform Paris bus from about the same period.
6. Royal Victoria Arcade
A monument stands out on Union Street, which leads to the waterfront through the Georgian and Victorian Architectural Gorge.
On the west side 54-76 is the Royal Victorian Arcade.
Dating back to 1836 and crowned with the Royal Coat of Arms of Victoria, this is an early example of a purpose-built shopping arcade, listed as II*.
The arcade was named in honor of then-Princess Victoria, in honor of her stay near Norris Castle.
Inside are some fascinating curiosity shops, and a museum dedicated to postcards.
Check out the dome of the Rotunda with its fine leaded glass eye.
The basement of the arcade is home to the historic Ryde Society and features a well-preserved ice well, also from the 1830s.
7. Isle of Wight Coastal Walk
Ryde is on a 70-mile signposted trail that circles the coastline of the Isle of Wight.
The route is mostly on public sidewalks, but there are some short sections in driveways and roads that cut in from the sea.
There are many places to take public transport.
For example, on a day hike, you can walk clockwise to Sandown and enjoy stunning views of Sandown Bay and the Solent from Culverdown.
Then at Sandown you can take the train back to Ryde in 15 minutes.
There are plenty of places to stop and grab a bite on this walk, such as the charming Windbreaker Cafe, Baywatch on the beach, St Helens Duffer from the National Trust on the way to Bembridge.
8. Parkpool Park
Continue past Apple Beach and you will arrive at Puckpool Point.
In the mid-1860s, it became home to Palmerston Fort, a link in a vast system of defenses against invasions during the reign of Napoleon III.
Puckpool batteries still exist and were reinforced off and on until the end of World War II.
The surrounding park is a peaceful green paradise with a cleverly designed playground, a putting green and a crazy 12-hole golf course.
There’s also a cafe in the battery’s old barracks building, while to the east of the headland is an attractive sheltered beach.
You can take the road train to Puckpool Park from Ryde’s Esplanade.
9. Ryde Wharf
To attract high-society tourists in the early 1800s, Ryde needed a pier that would make it easier for boats to dock and avoid long walks to the beach at low tide.
This started in 1813 and opened a year later.
By 1833, the quay had reached its current length of 681 meters, allowing ferries to berth even at low tide, a rarity in Britain that this basic structure still exists today. Two parallel piers were later built, first a horse-drawn tram and then a double-track railway line that continued from the Wightlink ferry terminal at Ryde Pier Head.
Ryde Pier is the second-longest waterfront pier in the country, and although it serves more of a functional purpose as a road and rail connection to the pier, it’s still worth a visit because of its age and some sea air.
10. Appley Park
Supporting Appley Beach is the former site of a country house that was on top of the seawall but was demolished in the 20th century.
Architectural fragments of the estate still stand, most notably the Gothic Revival folly above the beach, dating back to 1875, designed to resemble a castle tower.
The tower has a bay window that points to the sea and has long been used by sailors as a sea marker.
Appley Tower is right on the Garden Walk, a coastal path at the foot of a wooded hillside that leads to the park.
Appley Park is home to the Goodleaf Tree Climbing, which also includes a children’s playground and some tree specimens dating back to the 19th century.
11. Rosemary Vineyard
On the south-facing slopes of the valley outside Ryde, there is a vineyard that benefits from the mild climate of the Isle of Wight.
Growing recently developed cool climate grapes such as Phoenix, Solaris, Triomphe d’Alsace, Pinot Gris and Seyval, Rosemary Vineyard produces a wide variety of white, red, rosé and sparkling wines, as well as ciders, liqueurs and juices.
You can call to visit on Tuesdays or Saturdays from March to December.
These start at 11:00, 12:00 and 13:00 and last about half an hour.
You will visit the winery and its various equipment and watch a movie “Vine to Wine” that is included in Rosemary’s Vineyard for a year.
There’s a wine tasting session at the end where kids can sample a selection of non-alcoholic juices from the vineyard.
12. Haven Falcon
Minutes to the countryside of Havenstreet, there is a bird of prey centre with falcons, hawks, owls, bald eagles and eagles.
The art of falconry takes center stage here, but you can take part in a range of other experiences, such as an “eagle walk” or handling up to five different owls.
During the hour-long Birds of Prey Experience, you will meet several birds and learn about their different hunting habits, physical characteristics and behaviors.
For something more in-depth, you can follow a professional falconer throughout the day, become a falconry expert and discover the many skills needed to fly these birds from mittens.
13. All Saints Church
A striking landmark whose spire can be seen from all over the island and the Solent, the Church of All Saints is often referred to as the Cathedral of the Isle of Wight.
Built in the 1860s to accommodate a growing town, this ornate neo-Gothic church was designed by renowned Revivalist architect and restorer George Gilbert Scott.
The accessories and decoration of the church are of high quality.
See a pulpit made of Derbyshire alabaster and win a first prize at Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition.
The frescoes on the altar were painted by the renowned studio of Clayton and Bell, which also supplied most of the original stained glass.
Sadly, many of them were lost in World War II, although fine pieces survived in the east window.
14. Peter Pan Playground
At the Esplanade, not far from the ferry terminal in Ryde, there is a permanent playground with rides and games for young holidaymakers.
These include a carousel, bumper cars, cups and saucers, zorbing and the “Helta Skelta” slide.
In addition to the crazy golf course, Peter Pan Funfair’s arcade has plenty of old-fashioned playground entertainment such as claw machines, slot machines and a range of mini-games.
15. Hover Travel
The Southsea to Ryde route via Hovertravel is notable as it is the only hovercraft route still in use in the UK and the only year-round hovercraft service in the world.
Hovertravel is also the UK’s oldest hovercraft operator, dating back to 1965, operating several routes between the island and the UK’s south coast.
Thanks to this fast mode of transport, Hovertravel offers the fastest land-to-land crossing of the Solent in just ten minutes.
You’re riding a Griffon 12000TD from 2016, along with a pair of older AP1-88s to spare in case of technical glitches.
In early 2019, the adult rebate is £32.00 (daytime rebate is £23.90) and the service departs from Portsmouth from 06:30 to 22:00 on the summer timetable.
Where to stay: The best hotels in Ryde, England
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