With the inspired idea of going to the beach with the inlaws, we had a brief yet clearly insane idea that it wasn’t really that much further to just take a Fast Cat over to Ryde on the Isle of Wight for a short trip. It turns out it isn’t as insane as you would have expected and we even got back in time for dinner at Gunwharf Quays. Husband got jealous, as he thought we were taking the hovercraft without him, but calmed a little after knowing it was just a catamaran.
Why skip over to another island? 1) Awesome & empty sandy beach 2) It’s like going abroad (with all the good and bad that that entails) so – cheaper food, involves interesting transport to keep your kiddo happy and it’s a bit like stepping back into holidays circa 1972. 3) It’s got a 22 minute crossing time, pretty impressive, 4) you can park at Gunwharf Quay – expensive, yes, but super convenient and you can shop/eat after.
Stuff to do in Ryde in the sun:
Beach, obviously. This is a long stretch of shallow sloping white sand beach to keep kids happy. There be good sand castle building sand in these parts, bring your bucket and spade. There are of course scores of cafes and ice cream shops along the long front. We had lunch at a small cafe right across the road from the ferryport, whose name has completely escaped me. Lovely people, but food has clearly come in by time machine (don’t worry, everything, including the salad, comes with chips), and somehow brought a coach-load of grumpy octogenarians with it.
Indoor Pool: In case the weather went sour on you, as it is prone to do, there is an indoor pool and small boating lake just along the front. http://rydepool.co.uk/ We didn’t check it out since it was super sunny and warm.
Watching hovercrafts come in! This was definitely a highlight for Weasel. Having spent years dodging these things on the Solent in a boat, it’s much nicer to watch them from the shore, floating noisily across the vast sand.
Beach Playground: With loads of mechanical diggers and small climbing frames, this is the place to come when you’ve exhausted the paddling and sandcastle building front.
Weasel lasted about 5 minutes in the water up to her ankles, but she’s not exactly ‘hardy’
The ferryport in Ryde had a fantastic waiting room, far nicer than the other’s I’ve been to on the Isle of Wight or south coast side. It’s even a place you might be happy grabbing a snack and a coffee and watching the boats come in. It’s complete with a proper Victorian ladies toilet and waiting room and a very confused cleaner who was insistent we were going to miss our boat (we weren’t, it was still in Portsmouth, as scheduled). The ferry itself has a snack bar and changing facilities, but places to park your pushchair next to you are limited and near the middle entrance. You might end up having to fold it.
The resting Ninja in her heavily-packed pushchair in the lovely ferryport in Ryde
Verdict: Fantastic day out at the beach and not as far away as you might think, I’ll definitely be making beach trips to Ryde in the future. I might do some better research on food options before next time, although it’s almost worth a trip to one of these cafes to see what the UK was like in the 1970’s.