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Services for Adults on the Isle of Wight

Cowes Chain Ferry

Please note that revised tolls are now in force. Please refer to the Timetable and Fares Page


The Cowes Ferry (also known as the Floating Bridge) is a chain ferry which operates 365 days a year and is in service to convey passengers and vehicles on the short crossing, taking only a couple of minutes, across the fast flowing tides in the narrow mouth of the River Medina estuary between Cowes and East Cowes, for around 18 hours each day.

The timetable provides for daily crossings in both directions from 5 a.m. onwards on Mondays to Saturdays and from 6.35 a.m. onwards on Sundays. Regular crossings at approximately 10-15 minute intervals from each side of the river continue until after midnight daily.

The Ferry carries around 1.5 million pedestrians and cyclists free of charge annually. Around 400,000 cars, vans, motorcycles and lorries are also carried annually at a variety of tolls, which are collected on board. The Ferry provides a time and cost efficient alternative to the ten-mile road route between the two towns via Newport.
It is not possible to pre-book vehicles on to a specific crossing since all vehicles are conveyed on a first come first served basis and queues can form during peak holiday times. Discounted rates for drivers who are regular users of the Ferry are available in the form of books of 20 vouchers. These books of vouchers are available from our agents based at the Kiosk adjacent to the Ferry slipway at Medina Road in Cowes or from Halls Newsagents in Ferry Road in East Cowes.
There are further discounts available for vehicles conveying passengers with severe mobility difficulties – please contact the Ferry Office for further information.
The current ferry was launched in 1976 and cost £280,000 to build and is subject to Certification for operation as a passenger and vehicle ferry by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. The interior passenger accommodation has recently benefited from a thorough overhaul and now features a “cabinet of curiosities” to amuse and entertain you on your brief crossing. The interior design celebrates the pivotal position of the Ferry in the nautical history of the towns and a four mile walking tour, the “Boat Trail” has been set out in the two towns via the Ferry.
If you would like further information on ferry services or have any queries, please contact us on (01983) 293041.

Page last updated on: 18/04/2011