Up the Creek - Isle of Wight
Wootton Creek has a very ancient history. It has been used as a waterway and port for thousands of years. The Romans landed cargo here; King Canute is said to have come ashore here; and the monks from nearby Quarr Abbey who owned the mill, had a fishery at the creek mouth. From the earliest times there was a causeway across the creek and this, together with the presence of a mill, was the reason for the growth of the original settlement of Wootton. The group of houses clustered around the Sloop Inn are the oldest in the village and thought to be over 250 years old. In 1865 works were undertaken to improve the causeway and a new road was built bypassing the mill and the Sloop. Today, the wider settlement of Wootton Bridge has crept slowly up either side of the valley away from its origins on the creek. It has become a very popular haunt for leisure yachtsmen, with several creek side businesses supporting a variety of maritime activities. The village also has a number of local shops, a scattering of pubs, a thriving community centre and is also home to the Island's steam railway. The oldest locomotive was built in 1876 and the oldest carriages date from 1864. The isle of Wight Steam Railway began operating trains in 1971 well after the closure of some 54 miles of track in 1966.
On entry to the dredged channel beware of Wootton Rocks to the West and of coarse the very sticky mud to the East. The Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s pontoon is drying but cheap and very convenient with the Royal Victoria Yacht Club’s premises just at the end of the pontoon and water available. Good ales and food with excellent shore facilities mostly made available from a Lottery Grant. Should you wish for something more exotic then try the Fishbourne Inn just a short walk to the main road and North about 100 Metres. Get there early and book your preference from the chalkboard or it will “run out”. A little further on from the Fishbourne Inn will take you to the Northern beach for some local “coaming”. Whilst you’re moored try a BBQ on the Royal Victoria’s splendid greens overlooking the Creek itself or work off that meal with a stroll just around the headland (South) to the Islands Hovercraft manufacturers (as at time of writing). Just here is another drying, private Marina where you can, with a bit of luck moor overnight for free. Passage on up the Creek to the landing stage at the very South past the local Inn and drop the anchor to do some shopping in the local supermarket. Due to the distinct lack of sea water especially at the far end, this trip is best undertaken in the dinghy. Should you not wish to dinghy then walk through the back lanes under the trees admiring the many private dwellings backing on the Creek with their own pontoons Just beyond the landing stage is the Old Mill Pond now almost covered in reeds. A short step before reaching the Fishbourne Inn you will see a footpath on the right called Quarr Lane which can be muddy but will take you all the way to Ryde (and beyond) passing the modern Quarr Abbey which is actually a Monastery and was built in 1901 by Spanish Benedictine Monks who still serve there today. Visitors to the Abbey, Gardens, Tea rooms, Ruins, etc. are very welcome. A little further and you will pass the original Quarr Abbey ruins dating back to 1132. From here you can also view Portsmouth Harbour on the horizon. This area is ideal for observing the wildlife with all the wetlands, woodlands and the sea shore. Further still and you will reach Ryde where you can quench your now well deserved thirst at the Crown Inn, a large white building with fine local Ales and on Sunday lunchtimes, local entertainment.