The other day my daughter and I took a trip to the town of Ryde, on the Isle of Wight.
It is a very short ten minute journey by hovercraft from Southsea for foot passengers, but if you wish to take a car, there are many other ferries that cross the Solent.
Ryde is a lovely seaside town and very popular with holidaymakers. Even if you don’t use a car, there is lots to see. One of the best places to see is the long sandy beach, to the east of the pier, and you will see a tower in the distance.
Appley Tower is a Victorian mock castle tower on the esplanade overlooking the beach at Ryde. The tower is in private hands, but visitors can go to the top for excellent views across the Solent.
The tower was originally part of the Appley House estate, owned by the Hutt family and later by Sir Hedworth Williamson. The House is now gone, but the castellated tower remains, at the eastern end of the Esplanade in Ryde.
The tower was built as a garden folly about 1875. A folly is a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park. Appley Tower is circular in plan, with a turret and decorative oriel window, and on the wall is a plaque with the Appley coat of arms. The Tower is constructed of coursed rubble, dressed with ashlar. Over the years it has become one of the most iconic of Wight buildings, and a symbol of Ryde.
Appley Park is just behind the beach, and it has lots of paths to explore, a children’s playground, and a tree climbing activity. There is a row of green painted beach huts, overlooking the sandy beach.
The Solent is the strait of water that separates the Isle of Wight from the mainland of England. It is about 20 miles in length and varies in width between two and a half and five miles, although the shingle Hurst Spit which projects one and a half miles into the Solent narrows the sea crossing between Hurst Castle and Colwell Bay to just over a mile.
The Solent is a major shipping route for passenger, freight and military vessels. It is an important recreational area for water sports, particularly yachting, hosting the Cowes Week sailing event annually.
Next time, I’ll take you on a visit to Cowes!