Update December 2022: At the time of writing, Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is offering some basic camping without electricity for summer 2023. It is described as a 'Standard Grass Pitch (No Electric)' and was £240 for a week in August 2023 when we checked.
This is just a brief blog to publicise the fact that Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park on the edge of Bembridge has stopped offering camping and touring. We suspected that this might be the case as we haven't been able to book for a while, but Away Resorts has now confirmed it.
Whitecliff Bay Holiday Park is one of the biggest and most popular holiday parks on the Isle of Wight. It's next to one of our favourite beaches, which is a right pain to get to unless you are staying onsite. As a result, it is wonderfully quiet compared to similarly beautiful beaches on the Isle of Wight.
If you stayed on the campsite at Whitecliff Bay Holiday in previous years then there are some alternatives worth mentioning.
For many years, I have recommended Bembridge as the Isle of Wight's best beach for rockpooling. The beach is about as flat as they come, which exposes a great big ledge at low tide. On our last visit, we found four crabs in about 40 minutes with the assistance of five people. We were hindered by a small child whose splashing and sploshing was scaring away the crabs.
I was given reason to reconsider Bembridge's number one position on a recent trip to Freshwater Bay.
Most visitors to Freshwater Bay stick to the main beach. It's near to the car park, it has become sandier of late and it's not too bad for swimming.
We usually end up round the corner at the quieter beach which is more sheltered and less busy. You can find it at low tide by walking past The Albion on your right as you face the sea.
On our visit, the tide was at its absolute lowest which exposed a good area of moveable rocks.
We didn't bring any nets or buckets, but our party of three managed to find a whopping nine crabs in just half an hour.
Those of you who are mathematically minded may be interested to know that Bembridge offered us a measly 1.2 crabs per person, per hour. Freshwater delivered a remarkable six crabs per person, per hour.
I should point out that the sploshing child was distracted in Freshwater by a ball she had found on the beach. Perhaps that skewed the figures. Perhaps more research is needed.
Anyway, if you're in the West Wight and fancy picking up crabs (Ed: grow up...) then I would save some petrol and go for Freshwater Bay over Bembridge.
I have a bad habit of rolling my eyes whenever my mother makes a suggestion on a day out. I believe this may be something I picked up when I was a teenager. One day I will overcome it and respond with "gee mother, that sounds like a terrific idea!".
My most recent eye-rolling occurred whilst halfway up the climbing wall at Brighstone playground on Wilberforce Road. It's only a small playground but we like it as it's rarely busy, it has free parking and it's alongside a pretty little stream.
My mother's suggestion was that we visit the famous Dragon Tree, since it is only about three minutes walk from the playground.
My eyes rolled before I remembered that the Dragon Tree had been on my to-do list for some time. I had seen photos of it in the last few years but couldn't remember an actual visit.
The tree in question is a short walk along a footpath off New Road, near to the junction with Wilberforce Road. It's footpath number BS23 for anyone currently unfolding an OS map onto a dining table.
It gets its name from the local story that a dragon was slain in Brighstone and was immediately transformed into a tree. Needless to say, this is flim-flam, but it's certainly a very cool tree which appears to be growing sideways.
The Woodland Trust gave it third place in its tree of the year competition in 2019. I announced this fact as we arrived, but the children had already walked off and were paddling in the stream.
A visit to the Dragon Tree requires wellies, as the main attraction is paddling in the stream, climbing on stepping stones and falling over in the mud. When we visited, the water was ankle deep and there was a tyre swing. I am assuming it is not so easy to paddle in after heavy rain.
I was wearing walking boots, which weren't really good enough so I had to offer arm's length support to the wobblier child. They both had wet socks within a few minutes, but it filled half an hour nicely.
Perhaps I will get my eye-rolling under control for the next suggestion from my mother.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog