Following the success (apart from the breakdown!) of last year’s big summer camping trip to Cornwall, this year we settled on the Isle of Wight and hoped for a repeat experience. We spent quite a while researching campsites in the IoW and found quite a few impressive looking places with gorgeous cliff-top views out over the sea. We were a little worried by some reports of high winds though so decided to hedge our bets and split our time between two different sites. Beaper Farm was the first site, and was selected because it’s close to Ryde and a little further inland than some of the other sites so we hoped it might be a little more sheltered if the weather turned against us.
After a thankfully uneventful drive down to Southampton and a short ferry crossing to Cowes we arrived at the campsite after a short drive from the port (we soon realised that nowhere on the IoW is more than about 15 minutes away from anywhere else). Beaper Farm is spread over four large fields with the only shower block located on the boundary of two of the fields. The owners’ house is on the edge of the main field and that’s where you check in. We received a warm welcome but as there’s no dedicated reception area, there’s nowhere to pick up local information and there’s no on-site shop – part of the building that housed the laundry looked like it might have been being prepared as a shop, or maybe it had recently been closed down. All the pitches at Beaper are grass pitches, and marker boards identify the location of the electric pitches. Those not needing electric are free to select their own spot to set up camp. Electric points are located around the outer edge of most of the fields and we were surprised that when we visited in late June it was so quiet with only 3 other pitches occupied in our field. It was a similar story in the other fields.
The furthest field which has it’s own toilet block is on a slight incline, but has a slightly more secluded feel and its higher position results in a marginally better view. The far end of this field joins neighbouring farmland with access to public footpaths that we used to walk into nearby St Helens and Bembridge Harbour on the evening that we arrived. At a gentle pace it took around 30 minutes. We didn’t manage to find any local butcher or baker for barbecue supplies but there’s a large Tesco supermarket less than 5 minutes drive away.
There’s a nearby steam railway service but don’t make the mistake that we did and try walking to the station near the campsite: Smallbrook Junction is the closest station to the campsite but is only accessible by rail – you can’t get to it on foot or in a car! So, after a 45 minute walk through wet fields we could see the station but couldn’t find a way in. Fortunately we stumbled across Rosmary Vineyard instead which has a nice café and shop, and also offer tours (but is popular with coach parties so can get very busy).
We found this site to be a good location for exploring the East side of the island, but having transport was quite important – we ended up going out in the van on most days because the places that we wanted to visit were a bit too far away to walk to. In terms of its location and views this site scores lower than Grange Farm that we moved on to for our second week, with its breathtaking views, but its inland position makes it more sheltered which meant we had a more comfortable and relaxing time here.