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West Cowes is known as the home of sailing but on the other side of the River Medina is East Cowes, home of Queen Victoria.

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West and East Cowes, Isle of Wight

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Cowes has enjoyed quite a regeneration in the past ten years or so with some very attractive – and priced to match – developments especially those over the River Medina.  Quite wide at Cowes where is meets the Solent, the Medina runs south cutting the top half of the Island in half until it reaches Newport in the centre of the Island.  It is navigable to Newport though most boats stop half way where there is an excellent watering hole.

Cowes is dominated by its association with sailing.  There are a large number of moorings on the Medina just upstream from Cowes and many of the shops have a sailing bias – with others aiming at the wider yachting community.  There are also quite a few pubs (the Crown….dating back to n1704 has plenty of history – and for a quick cup of coffee and bite to eat, Tiffins is excellent – their Isle of Wight pork sandwich is delicious.

Chain ferry

Unless you are a sailing enthusiast, then Cowes quaint town makes an enjoyable afternoon stroll but after that you will probably want to look further afield.  The chain ferry across the Medina is an engineering novelty, the ferry’s engine pulls the boat across the river on  two chains that are attached to either bank.  The chain ferry takes you across to East Cowes which is has a completely different feel to is.  The town area next to the Red Funnel vehicle ferry is rather depressing and looks in need on a complete makeover but wander up the hill a little to Osborne House and the outlook changes completely. 

Osborne was the favourite residence of Queen Victoria and even though it is extremely large and grand it manages to keep the feel of a family home, albeit in a somewhat fussy and overcrowded style.  The grounds are lovely to walk around and the Swiss Cottage still retains many signs of the time when the Queen’s children lived here.

During the summer, there is often a horse drawn carriage ride that will take you around the grounds and certainly captures the age when Osborne was at its peak.

October 2009


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