Bouldnor holiday cottages are perfectly located for exploring the sweeping dunes, sandy beaches and soaring, white cliffs on the Isle of Wight’s 25-mile coast. For centuries, visitors have been drawn to this laid-back island in the English Channel, near Portsmouth. With its fresh seafood, nostalgic seaside amusements and slower, rural pace, the Isle of Wight feels a world away from the mainland. Bouldnor is a tiny hamlet, just east of Yarmouth, facing the Dorset coast across the Solent. With its scattering of pretty cottages and family-run businesses, this peaceful community is hard to beat for self-catering holidays on the Isle of Wight.

Bouldnor is famous for its military battery, which was used during World War II to protect an anchorage near Yarmouth. Nearby, a quiet sand and shingle beach strewn with driftwood is a glorious spot for swimming and sunbathing. The retreating soft, clay cliff has turned old buildings into islands, and trees which once stood on land now lie on the shore. The beach is a great place to search for fossils which arrived on the shoreline in glaciers during the last ice age. Underwater, off the coast of the Bouldnor Cliffs, flints and other pieces have been discovered in an underwater Mesolithic village which dates from 8,000 years ago.

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For a high-speed tour of the coast, book a ride with Needles Cruises, taking in Needles Rocks and Lighthouse and the coloured sands of Alum Bay. Inland, Bouldnor Forest is crisscrossed by peaceful footpaths which pass towering pines, sea grass beds and open heath. Look out for red squirrels and rare plants, such as heath dog violet and cyperus sedge. If you fancy an evening meal or pint of local cider before retiring to your Bouldnor holiday cottage, head to neigbouring Yarmouth, a lovely resort with cobbled streets, a working harbour and some of the island’s oldest architecture, including a 16th century castle.