I get a fair few terrible press emails, but when one drops into your inbox addressed to you and your dog, you sit up and pay a bit more attention! Wightlink Ferries* very kindly invited Finn and I on a trip to the Isle of Wight to see just how dog friendly it is! We bought Con along too, you know, mostly for Instagram boyfriend duties.
To be honest, I had no idea that dogs were actually allowed on Wightlink Ferries, but they actually have a pets corner on their ships, and Finn made a lot of furry friends! I was a little nervous about taking Finn on a ferry, he’s notoriously quite the grump and not the best traveller, but he LOVED the ferry. He spent the whole trip from Lymington to Yarmouth staring out the window, watching the waves and the other boats.
We typically picked the windiest day of the year to head over to the island, but despite the 30mph winds, the crossing was completely smooth! Just enough time for a coffee and bacon sandwich from the on board coffee shop (stocked with coffee roasted on the island and Dorset Teas!), a watch of the big waves crashing against the side and before we knew it, we’d arrived!
Since Con and Finn had never been to the island before, and my last trip was back when I was around 8, we decided to first get our bearings with a drive round the south coast of the island! If you’re looking for a scenic view, look no further, the wide open road hugs the coast with views of rolling fields one side and the open sea the other. Finn loves being in cars, he sits on the back seat and crosses from window to window checking out the surroundings. There are so many free car parks along this stretch of road, so eventually we pulled into one by the picturesque village of Chale, and took Finn to stretch his legs on the coastal path.
Our visit to the island coincided with the blooming of rapeseed flowers in the fields, so our walk was perhaps even more picturesque than usual! Finn loved bounding through the flowers and although he was definitely scared of the cliff edge!
We walked right along to the old sea steps down to the beach but sadly they were closed due to the corrosion of the cliffs. It wasn’t hard to see why, whilst it was a beautiful sunny day, the wind meant the waves were beating the cliffs quite ferociously!
I’d done a little research before our trip to the island and one of the places I was really keen to visit was St Catherine’s Oratory! An English Heritage site, the Oratory is all that remains of the original structure used as a lighthouse back in 1328. It’s a short but steep walk up the hill, through a field of cows that Finn was 100% terrified of, but the views from the top were so worth it!
The wind at this point was so bad we actually huddled inside the Oratory remains for a while to catch our breath! Finn didn’t seem bothered and instead ran circles around the building, which was fine by us!
Our next stop had to be lunch! There’s no shortage of dog friendly pubs on the island, and a big bowl of comfort food was definitely on the cards after a few hours exploring in the wind! Finn was good as gold in the pub, and spoiled rotten with cuddles, water and treats from the staff! He eventually snuggled up on the sofa next to us for a little nap, giving Connor and I to tuck into dessert without sad eyes asking to share!
After our long and late lunch, there wasn’t much time left before we had to head back to Yarmouth for our return crossing! It seemed rude not to at least pop into Newport though, as the biggest town on the island!
We were jonesing for coffee at this point and whilst I’d been recommended Cafe Isola as a great dog friendly independent coffee shop, it was full to bursting and Finn gets quite nervous when there are too many people. Luckily we wandered a little further down the high street to stumble on a Starbucks with a big dog friendly sign outside!
Whilst Finn was a little disappointed Con didn’t order him a Puppacino, the amount of fuss he received in this Starbucks was clearly worth it, everyone who came in gave him belly rubs!
After recaffeinating, we had a little stroll down the high street. Dogs are clearly popular here, and Newport was one of the most dog friendly towns I’ve ever visited! Nearly all the stores were dog friendly, and most had water bowls out too. I’ve never seen a town so geared up for furry friends!
We had just enough time before our ferry home to have a quick walk in the grounds of Carrisbrooke Castle. Dogs are welcome in the grounds here, and the views stretching over Newport are just fantastic. We spotted donkeys in the grounds (Finn was terrified), and whilst I didn’t have it in me to walk up the steps to the top, I’m told the views up there are especially breathtaking.
And just like that, it was time to go home! Wightlink Ferries run a super frequent service, so finding times that worked for us (and my limited energy supplies) was easy. The whole process was much easier than we expected, and being able to have the car with us was invaluable, it made the whole island so accessible even though we were just visiting for the day. I honestly didn’t expect travelling with the dog to be so easy, but Wightlink provide free travel for your furry friends, meaning there’s no excuse to not bring them along!
I was also amazed at just how dog friendly the Isle of Wight really is! We’ve already earmarked the Ventnor Botanic Gardens and Appuldercombe House for our next trip over with Finn!
Thank you to Wightlink Ferries for gifting us our crossing, and encouraging us to explore all the island has to offer with the dog, we had the best day!
Our ferry crossing was gifted to us by Wightlink Ferries in exchange for this blog post, however all opinions expressed are of course, my own!