Island roads ARE different: 8 quirks of driving on the Isle of Wight

Anyone who has driven on roads on the Isle of Wight will recognise Wendy’s observations. Read her eight quirks of driving on the Isle of Wight and see if you can add some more to the list.

Tractors on road

Our thanks to long-time contributor, Wendy Varley for sharing this interesting observation on Island roads. Ed

1. You can never get lost
I learned to drive in London, but was assured when I moved to the Island that “you can never really get lost on the Isle of Wight because you’ll always end up at the sea”.

It’s perfectly true. I’ve seen some lovely accidental coastal views finding my way around.

2. The Tractor Factor
It’s a certainty that if you leave home with just enough time to catch the ferry you’re booked on, within half a mile you’ll be stuck behind a tractor going the same way you are.

By the time you’ve been following it for 20 minutes, you’re convinced it’s actually heading for the terminal. When your paths eventually diverge, at Wootton, or Whippingham, it’s too late. You’ve missed the boat.

You swear that next time you’ll allow for ‘The Tractor Factor’ and set off early. But, inevitably, when next time comes around, you forget.

3. Motorway phobia
If you’ve been confined to driving on the Isle of Wight for longer than a year, you’ll get The Fear of mainland driving.

Even the most sensible, competent drivers I know have developed motorway phobia when they’ve not left the Isle in a while. Doing 50 on the dual carriageway at B&Q is NOT the same as doing 70 on a motorway.

First time back on the M27 you’ll be on the verge of a panic attack.

4. Road-hoggers
The driver pootling along at 25mph in front of you on a quiet country lane is freaked out by the fact they’ve spied another car in their rear view mirror.

Even though you’re keeping a polite distance, waiting patiently for a chance to overtake on a straight bit of road, they pull to a dead stop, wait for you to pass, then set off again. Makes you feel guilty for just being out there.

5. There’s a horse around the bend
My mantra when my daughters were learning to drive was, “Slow down. You don’t know what’s around that corner. There might be a horse.”

Usually, there was.

6. Mini-roundabout mania
On the Isle of Wight we seem to understand that on a major roundabout like St Mary’s, you give way to the traffic on your right. We don’t get that the same rule also applies to the mini-roundabout at the top of Carisbrooke High Street. Approach at your peril.

Reminds me of the joke: “If four cars pull up at a mini-roundabout at the same time, which one goes first?” Answer: “The BMW.”

7. The road less travelled
No matter how long you’ve lived on the Isle of Wight, there’s always a road you’ve never driven down.

I’ve never been to Roud. Or Five Houses. They’re on my bucket list.

8. Which way through Newport?
That moment of tension in the car when you realise that you and your beloved hold a different opinion on which way through Newport is best. Can your relationship survive it?

When I approach Newport from the Ryde direction, heading for Carisbrooke, I opt for the “back roads”: turn right onto the dual carriageway, briefly, then off left up past Hursts, right into Lugley Street, and back on to the main road at the lights at that corner by the chemists.

Whereas HE doesn’t care that there MIGHT BE A QUEUE if he carries straight on through the town centre and drives past Morrisons. Makes me flinch.

There is, of course, the other argument about whether you should drive through Newport at all, or go “the country route”. Don’t get me started…

So that’s my 1–8. What are yours? Over to you…

Image: case_ih_europe under CC BY 2.0

Opinion Piece

Saturday, 27th December, 2014 10:04am



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight Opinion Pieces, Roads

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45 Comments on "Island roads ARE different: 8 quirks of driving on the Isle of Wight"

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Niton Wight Satin

This is utterly brilliant! Thanks Wendy.

In my experience, a very welcome thing about Island driving is a general lack of boy racers, when compared with the Mainland.

old bull

Us ‘boy racers’ seem to have got away with it so far!
We also know Five Houses and Roud.

Louis Henry

I’m the boy racer from 5 Houses. I’m 62. That makes me a boy round here.


…… accidents waiting to happen?

old bull


Deb Harris

You forgot to mention the road signs that tend to come after the junction!! I love this place – my heaven ;-)


Makes you laugh dunnit? Wouldn’t live anywhere else!

There is an interesting reverse syndrome I have noticed happens with tourists and other visitors to the Island (usually identifiable by their non-Island number plates). Being used to driving on wider mainland roads and motorways, the narrowness, curves and blind bends of Island roads makes them ultra-cautious, so they tend to drive slowly. Sometimes they do not notice road signs- often turning right from Culver towards Bembridge… Read more »

I think you’ll find most of us turn right from Culver Down as we don’t want a 3 to 4 mile detour via Yaverland & Brading


So you prefer to put other people’s lives at risk on a blind bend because you are too damn lazy to turn keft and do a u-turn at the mini roundabout by Yaverland House 200 yards away?



…. or turn round in the layby 50 yards away?


I go up to Culver most days and have seen several near misses with people doing that right turn and exposing themselves to be T-boned by a vehcle coming from the right that itself could have a head-on with a vehicle coming the other way oroverturn the hill if it took evading action.


Please explain the difference (to the occupants of both vehicles ) between t-boning the car coming off Culver Down and rear-ending it!


The 50mph warning coupled with the three SLOW sign prior to the Culver exit give sufficient warning.


I think you need to re-read your highway code! It specifically states you SHOULD NOT do a U-turn on a mini roundabout and as for trying a 3-point turn on that bend!


sam salt

Ian, the signage is very clear, no right turn when coming off of Culver Down. Turn left and then take 3rd exit at mini roundabout.
I am sure the Highway Code does not suggest that road signs are ignored. You are in danger of causing a serious accident if you continue to ignore the no right turn sign.
In these circumstances would your insurance company pay up?


Is that the same Highway Code that prohibits ignoring a No Right Turn sign?

BTW there is no similar regulatory sign prohibiting a u-turn on the mini-roundabout but there is an information sign showing how to reverse your direction at that point. (Also s.188 HC is advisory on the point not mandatory)


Tess, why would a sign tell you to ignore the Highway Code? From Bembridge there is no 3rd exit unless you go across the field..


I believe the Highway Code suggests ‘avoiding’ making a u-turn on a mini roundabout rather than not permitting it by law.

However, turning right when a road sign says you shouldn’t would be seen as breaking the law (as well as being blooming idiotic given the obvious risk to others)


S.188 HC is only advisory on mini-rounabout u-turns (i.e. “Avoid”)

However NO RIGHT TURN signs are mandatory and infringement can be penalised by the police.

sam salt
Being pedantic Bembridgeian? Coming from Bembridge, 1st exit is Yaverland, 2nd exit goes to Yar Bridge, Brading and 3rd exit back to Bembridge as the road sign clearly shows. The 3rd exit might make those being pedantic call it a “U turn” however the sign clearly shows an exit from the roundabout. As for the exit being into a field, there is no gate so in my… Read more »

“S.188 HC is only advisory”

as is any sign on a Private Road!


“S.188 HC is only advisory”

as is any sign on a Private Road!

Interesting point!


The definition of a road in England and Wales is ‘any highway and any other road to which the public has access and includes bridges over which a road passes’ (RTA 1988 sect 192(1))


For the record, there are two No Right Turn signs (nearside and offside) at the exit from Culver with an “All Traffic” sign pointing left facing the exit on the opposite side of the road.

Less than one hundred yds away in the laybay is the sign pointing the way to Bembridge via a u-turn at the mini-roundabout.

sam salt

Cicero surely you mean the third exit at the mini roundabout.


No Tess- the sign definitely shows a u-turn- it just happens to be the third exit! :-))

sam salt

Well shiver me timbers. I pass it most days and never thought of it as a sign suggesting a U turn, more a sign saying go round the roundabout and take the Bembridge exit.


A purist would say it is actually the fourth exit as the third leads to open cpountryside. :-))


Here’s a thought! Maybe OTW could do a public safety service by publishing the number plates of the worst drivers noticed and sent in by bloggers?

It could be called the “Island Grand Prix” (English pronunciation!) :-))


I think publishing number plates and identifying drivers would be illegal.

Mini roundabouts is correct. The worst one is Brading. I push out infront of the people not giving way, and honk my horn. its the only way they will learn.

Do not number plates identify vehicles rather than drivers? Further if publishing them -other than those derived by electronic means covered by the Data Protection Act- is illegal, are not all those private people and businesses publishing number plates for sale also contravening the law in some way? Then there are the civilian (i.e. unwarranted) people checking speed limits with cameras and publishing the number plates of… Read more »
Ed Mew

The one that I can never get is the so called slip road as you travel down the (motorway). At peak times, people stop at the top and do not drive down the slip road. They obviously do not realise the traffic is building up at the mini roundabout by Curry’s. Still I’m sure none of us are perfect.

re Niton Wight Satin’s Where I live, which for obvious reasons I will not detail, there are more than enough boy racers, two wheeled and four, which can be heard coming from what seems over a mile away. Living in an older building without the benefit of modern double glazing they are an absolute pain, especially with their “I am a big boy” exhausts. They treat the… Read more »
Mark Francis

It always seems to me that if you do not hammer over Brading Downs from the Hare & Hounds to Bully’s Hill, you get tailgated but anywhere else (except Military Road & Forest Road) you get stuck behind someone toddling along at 20mph.

Simon H
1- Slip Road on dual – just use it! 2- annoying drivers that travel at 40 in a 60, 40 in a 50, 40 in a 40 and then 40 in a 30!!!!!!!! 3- the number of cars whose indicators do not work. 4- cutting across you anywhere on Coppins, but most annoyingly on the exit from staplers where it seems being in the Cowes only lane… Read more »
While on the subject of mini roundabouts,i have noticed quite a few times the number of drivers who on reaching the mini roundabout at the junction of Carisbrooke road and Wellington road,by the garage, that indicate LEFT when going straight on towards Carisbrooke, do they not see there is a high stone wall to their left. I have been told it is done to let vehicles coming… Read more »

This polite and a positive signal to on coming traffic, I live within a hundred yards of the junction, I know our signalling is appreciated

JimC,so using you indicators in this way is a polite and positive signal to oncoming traffic,so what about traffic following. I have noticed drivers doing as you suggest at the bottom of Ceder hill only indicating,right,there,on one occasion a car coming out of Ceder hill started to go towards Carisbrooke,and the person driving and indicating right,went straight on,nearly a very nasty accident all because drivers indicate their… Read more »

In my experience life long Islanders don’t know any of the road numbers and have no idea which are A roads and which are B roads


Wrong. Not quite life long but long enough. A roads go somewhere. B roads go somewhere else.

Jen Hagyard
My dad was driving along a quiet A road in Hampshire when car suddenly came out of a side road on the left – IN REVERSE. Caused quite some damage to the front of dad’s car. Dad and the other driver got out to exchange details etc – first thing the other driver says “Sorry, I’m from The Isle Of Wight” !!! Is this a common driving… Read more »
Wonderful accurate piece Wendy. In my case there are a couple of extra observations… When leaving home for a Hospital appointment in plenty of time I will meet the following obstacles. The (usually) elder driver who brakes at every bend in the road, brakes at every vehicle approaching, drives at 25 in a 30 or 40 then slows down at any National Speed Limit sign and never… Read more »

sorry you need to look at the road markings for the cowes traffic from newport lane two has the road lane one is to yarmouth


Oh dear,, I have always seen both lanes designated straight on.. perhaps Island Road Fairies have been removing bit of road markings.. well you live and learn. I shall make double sure next time.