Things to do in Cowes, Isle of Wight
The name originates from the sandbanks in the river estuary said to look like cows. The name "cowforts" or "cowes" was used to name pair of fortifications built by Henry VIII in the 16th century. The same name eventually was given to the town which grew up in the area.
Queen Elizabeth I had a 60-man vessel called Rat O'Wight built in Cowes in 1589 and the area became an important centre for boat building.
Some fine houses were built in the area. Northwood House was owned by William George Ward, a close friend of the poet, Tennyson. The property was donated to the town in 1929 and the grounds became Northwood Park.
As well as boat building, Cowes was where early flying boats were developed and where the first hovercraft was tested.
Present Day Cowes
The River Medina divides Cowes, the main town, from East Cowes and the two are linked by a chain ferry known as the Cowes Floating Bridge.
The historic town is the main entry point for visitors arriving by ferry or high speed catamaran from Southampton. It has a busy harbour, beach, waterfront promenade and a popular paddling pool.
There are three local churches including the Holy Trinity Church which has tiered gardens which look out over the busy Solent waterway.
Apart from tourism, Cowes industry is centred on building and servicing marine craft, sailmaking and boatmaking.
Famous residents of Cowes include solo yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur, gardener Alan Titchmarsh, actor Jeremy Irons, actress Celia Imrie and BBC presenter Cliff Michelmore.
Things to Do Around Cowes
Cowes is the start of the Isle of Wight coastal path which runs all around the island's coastline, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.