The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is a county and the largest island of England, located in the English Channel, on average about 3–5 miles (5-7 km) off the coast of Hampshire, separated from Great Britain (referred to by its inhabitants as “the mainland”) by a strait called the Solent. It has the distinction of being England’s smallest county – but for only half of the time. It has been calculated that during high tide Wight’s area is slightly less than that of Rutland, but not during low tide. The island has many resorts which have been holiday destinations since Victorian times.
Home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final homeOsborne House at East Cowes, the island has a maritime and industrial tradition such as boat building, sail making, the manufacture of flying boats, the world’s first hovercraft and the testing and development of Britain’s space rockets. The Isle hosts annual festivals including the Isle of Wight International Jazz Festival, Bestival and the recently revived Isle of Wight Festival, which, in 1970, was the largest rock music event ever held. The island has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaurfossils in Europe.PortsmouthMost of Portsmouth‘s tourist attractions are related to its naval history. In the last decade Portsmouth‘s Historic Dockyard has been given a much needed face-lift. Among the attractions are the D-Day museum (which holds the Overlord embroidery) and, in the dockyard, HMS Victory, the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, the Mary Rose (raised from the seabed in 1982), HMS Warrior (Britain’s first iron-hulled warship) and the Royal Naval Museum. The last weekend of November each year the Historic Dockyard host the Victorian Festival of Christmas, which is the largest event of its kind in the UK.
Many of the city’s former defences now host museums or events. Several of the Victorian era forts on Portsdown Hill are now tourist attractions. Fort Nelson is now home to the Royal Armouries museum, Fort Purbrook and Fort Widley are activities centres. The Tudor era Southsea Castle has a small museum, and much of the seafront defences up to the Round Tower are open to the public. The southern part of the once large Royal Marines Eastney Barracks is now the Royal Marines Museum. There are also many buildings in the city that occasionally host open days particularly those on the D-Day walk which are seen on signs around the city which note sites of particular importance in the city to Operation Overlord.