The Towers of Adventure
Described in the Secret Wight guide as resembling a medieval rocket and a homing beacon to attract aliens, there is something unmistakably cosmic about the two historic structures that stand on the end of St Catherine’s Down.
Taking up the challenge to unravel the mysteries of these imposing landmarks, we strode through a satisfyingly crunchy, frosted field towards what we were to discover was Britain’s Oldest Lighthouse, or as the locals call it, The Pepper Pot.
Slightly ominous in presence, the turret-like creation offers a spooky thrill to the close observer, and curious children will a kick from standing in the belly of the tower as you regale them with local folklore (one legend has it that a wealthy resident was made to build the tower as penance for pilfering shipwrecked wine)
Waiting patiently to be discovered across the down, the Hoy Monument is a towering obelisk with a rather unfortunate backstory. Built in 1814 as a tribute to the Russian Tsar Alexander, the monument was sadly never seen by the man who inspired it. Instead, an inscription on the side of the structure pays tribute to the British soldiers who the very same Russians fought in the Crimean War.
Hearing the stories of these two hidden landmarks really brings the island’s history to life in a hands-on easily digestible way for children young and old.
Throughout our adventure on the Isle Of Wight, the Secret Wight brochure took us off the beaten track to amazing, historic and beautiful areas that many visitors to the island will never come across.
We travelled to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink Green Getaways and stayed in Yarborough Barn at Niton Barns.A three-night self-catering stay (Fri-Mon) costs from £506 in total (£127pp) for four sharing, including return Wightlink car ferry travel from Portsmouth or Lymington. Four-night mid-week short breaks (Mon-Fri) and longer stays (Fri-Fri) are also available.
While on the Isle of Wight, we tried out Wightlink’s free Island guide, Secret Wight. Designed specifically for adventurous families, the guide offers a range of fresh air challenges for parents and children to conquer together on a choice of 10 different itineraries. The Wightlink booklet spotlights parts of the Isle of Wight known to locals, away from the well-trodden tourist path. Families can set out on foot to find miles of virgin sand, rocky ledges sheltering below towering cliffs, other-worldly monster vegetation covering huge expanses of rock pools, flora and fauna rarely found on mainland Britain and even dinosaur bones that have been hidden for millions of years.