Only some people who travel to the Isle of Wight are heading to Compton Bay, as we were. It’s a popular holiday destination with 57 miles of coastline, 20 beaches, and an array of protected woodland and nature reserves. There are more than 50 attractions and places to visit. If you think a visit might be upcoming, you can check Red Funnel’s guide and save up to 25% of your travel costs.
Because we are day-trippers, we follow the well-marked path to the local bus station and await our next mode of transportation. We’ve discovered that Google Maps is an outstanding resource, even better than official-UK transportation apps that the locals use. In addition, Google gives us detailed information about public transportation when we’re abroad, so we don’t have to worry about cultural miscues or time differences.
We have a while before the next bus to Compton Bay, so we grab a breakfast sandwich and coffee. I should have skipped the coffee. There are no facilities at Compton Bay. During the tourist season, there are food vendors but no bathrooms. After arriving at the beach and walking around for a couple of hours looking for dinosaur fossils, the inevitable occurs. You need a restroom, but none are available for a couple of miles. If you’re an intrepid traveler, you can find a suitable niche in the multi-colored cliffs along the beach. No worries – high tide happens twice a day.
After our day of collecting fossils, we head back to the main road and the bus stop. We have two choices: We can catch a bus back to West Cowes and find a lovely restaurant for dinner before catching the return ferry, or we can walk a couple of miles along the narrow country road to the Sun Inn, a 16th-century thatched free house pub, and order a pint. (In Britain, a free house is a pub not owned by a particular company and can sell whatever beers it chooses.) There’s a second bus stop near the pub.
The road is narrow, and the shoulders are muddy when we have to move for the occasional passing car, but it is scenic. We see quaint cottages and mansions on the hill. We meet sheep who rush to the gate to greet us. Finally, we arrive at the pub, staffed by a calm Golden Retriever, and enjoy a lager. We would love to spend more time here, perhaps even have dinner, but we opt to catch the bus back to West Cowes while the sun is still shining.
Soon we are back at the ferry port and sail back to Southampton, where the choice of restaurants is enormous. But that, also, is another story.