The other day we went for a day trip over to the Isle of Wight. For my non UK followers, the IOW is the largest island off the coast of England, at 147 sq.m. It is separated from the Hampshire coast by the stretch of water known as the Solent, approx 4 miles wide.
The quickest way to cross the Solent is by Hovercraft, which takes 10 minutes, and is now the only passenger Hovercraft service left in Britain, and has recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. There are also other forms of travel across the Solent, such as car ferries and high speed catamarans.
The Hovertravel service between Southsea and Ryde survives because hovercraft are best suited to short routes like those across the Solent. There is also a need because the tide at Ryde goes out half a mile and the hovercraft can deliver people straight onto the beach at Ryde.
Ryde lies on the north-east coast, opposite Portsmouth across the Solent. The town grew in size as a seaside resort after the villages of Upper Ryde and Lower Ryde were merged in the 19th century.
The town is noted for its expansive sands, which are revealed at low tide, making its pier necessary on the wide beach for a regular passenger ferry service. Ryde Pier is a listed structure, and the fourth longest pier in the United Kingdom, as well as the oldest. At the end of the pier is the station, taking ferry passengers into the town. A station has existed on the site since 1864, when a horse-drawn tram service began operation along the new Ryde Pier.
The current trainline runs from Ryde pierhead to Shanklin in the south, with six stops in between. The trains used are refurbished London Underground trains, built in 1938.
Have you ever been to the Isle of Wight?