During Cowes Week 2021, Nic was heading to the Isle of Wight to pick up some skippered charter guests. So I took the opportunity to get dropped off and spend a little time ashore in Cowes.

Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, is synonymous with boating. The high street is crammed full of shops selling sailing clothing, accessories, chandlery and sailing items for the home. From prior experience, my previous visits to Cowes have generally been a quick stopover. A visit for a Christmas market, dinner, bag of chips or a drink or three. So it was lovely to have a few hours to wander and see what there was to see. I hope this will offer some inspiration for your next trip to Cowes.

Map of Cowes, Isle of Wight

A walk along Queens Road

Cowes is a lot more than a high street. As soon as Bluetooth had departed I set off for a walk along The Parade leading to Queens Road. I reckon if I won the lottery then this is where I’d love to own a home. The road overlooking the sea has some lovely characterful houses. With at least one puller down / doer-upper!.

With the high street behind me, I passed a group of brave swimmers. They ran across the road to enjoy a dip in the sea.

I stopped walking when I came to this water fountain on Princes Green.

Cowes Green drinking fountain
Cowes Green drinking fountain plaque

If you look closely it says “Keep the pavement dry”. Which seems like an unusual motto to put on a water fountain. During Victorian times, this phrase was placed onto lots of cast-iron drinking fountains across the UK and further afield. I can’t however find what it means.

Thanks to The Greenockian I have discovered that the fountain was probably made by W MacFarlane & Co’s in Glasgow.  Here is a link to their brochure where on page 4, you can see how it looked when first ordered.

Anyhow a quite picturesque fountain on a lovely green overlooking the sea. There is a snack bar on Princes Green. A perfect place to enjoy a cuppa or picnic whilst looking out across Solent Water.

Rosetta Cottage is also in this area. Where Winston Churchill’s parents got engaged in 1874.

Rosetta Cottage plaque
Rosetta Cottage Cowes Isle of Wight
Egypt Esplanade

I carried on walking and having noticed some lion statues came across this monument to Egypt Esplanade. Not only was parking free of charge past this point, with a smattering of small campervans with occupants still asleep.

According to the Isle of Wight tourist board, this is near to the coastal viewpoint between Cowes and Gurnard which was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite places to watch the sunset.

I had a feeling I’d find a story when investigating to find out more about Egypt Esplanade, but it seems no tales of bravery resulting in gifts of lions were forthcoming. Wightpedia suggests that the area has been known as ‘Egypt’ since the 16th century, the name possibly being derived from a settlement of Roma people (then called ‘Egyptians’) who lived then in the area.

The Cannons

The morning was passing me by and with it being Cowes Week I wanted to be back to hear the cannons mark the start of the race. A quick march back down Queens Road and I found myself early, but with a nice spot on the wall next to the cannons.

Cannon Warning sign Cowes

There are 22 brass cannons that stand guard outside the Royal Yacht Squadron. However, it is not these that fire for the start of racing. These are more ornamental I believe.

There is a permanent warning sign on the wall in the area. I thought the racing was due to start at 10 am so was hanging around for a bit. It was good to see the loading of the cannons and preparing the flags. As soon as the ear muffs went on I was ready with my phone camera.

Cowes High Street

Once the cannons had gone off and the racing had started I wandered back along Cowes High Street. In between the nautical shops, there are some really great independent shops and food outlets along the way.

Slightly off the High Street, I noticed this great mural, so here I will end my whistle-stop tour of Cowes. Hopefully, I’ll get back again soon and can continue exploring.

Wall mural in Cowes

Bluetooth RIB is a charter RIB based in Hamble Le Rice, Southampton. It can be chartered for bareboat and skippered charter for half to multiple days. She can also be hired as a commercial RIB.

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