The Isle of Wight is such a small space, yet the geology and landscape changes dramatically in different areas. There’s wildlife that just can’t be seen in our bigger cities and towns, and frequent stunning views; of open sea or even back to the mainland. Here are our top suggestions for walking the island and taking in those wonderful views.
Tennyson Trail – Carisbrook to Alum Bay
14 miles – 6 hours
Starting in Carisbrook and ending in Alum Bay, this walk is very hilly but offers some fantastic views along the way. The route takes walkers through Brighstone Forest, and emerges onto Brighstone Down, where you can see the whole length of the island on a good day. The route then takes you over Mottistone Down, Brook Down and then Afton Down. You’ll then hit Freshwater Bay and walk along Tennyson Down, where you’ll meet the Tennyson Monument. You are essentially walking west from the middle of the island, so there’s quite a sense of achievement once the route is finished!
Coastal Path Pub Walk – St Lawrence to Sandown
7 miles – 3.5 hours
A much easier walk – and not just because there’s quite a few pubs to break up the journey. This trail passes through Ventnor and Bonchurch, before finally reaching the Victorian promenades of Shanklin and Sandown. The Spyglass Inn, The Bell or The Millbay are some pubs passed in Ventnor, and the Bonchurch Inn is reached once you’re in (you guessed it!) Bonchurch. Bonchurch also has some historic value, with an ancient church that’s still standing. Once you’ve followed the trail to Appley Beach, there’s another pub waiting – the Fishermans Cottage. Once you’ve headed towards Shanklin Chine, you’ll hit the Chine Inn. You’re not far from the finish once you’re here, simply head towards Sandown, where there’s plenty of places to eat or grab another drink.
4.4 miles – 1-2 hours
Starting in the village of Whippingham, which became part of Queen Victoria’s estate and subsequently pretty much rebuilt, this walk takes you through the village and onto the banks of the River Medina. In Whippingham you’ll pass the Priory School, where children were educated from the estate in Victorian times. You could stop at the Folly Inn to begin your journey with a bite to eat and a drink. Alongside the riverbanks you’ll pass the the Ryde Queen, which was the last paddle steamer to depart from Portsmouth to the island. It’s a lovely little walk along the riverside, and finishes in Newport, with options to grab a bus, stop for some food or just to explore the town.
5 miles – 2 hours
This is a great walk to discover the wildlife that the island has to offer. The variety of butterflies that can be spotted along the way is hard to beat. The trail starts in Afton car park, which is a great place to find blues, you’ll then walk through the golf course to reach the Tennyson Trail. After heading eastwards along the crest of Compton Down, the dark green fritillary can regularly be spotted. After following the route to Compton Combe, you’ll be able to spot more blues, and finally graylings, green hairstreaks and small blues at the end point of your journey.
Isle of Wight Coastal Path
71 miles – 3-7 days
Definitely not one for the faint of heart, this is ideal for those who are wanting to make a whole holiday out of their passion for walking. It is possible to walk around the whole island in as little as 3 days, however that isn’t really feasible for most people, and might take some of the fun out of the walk! The route can be split into 9 sections, which make for a nicely paced 7 day trip. Especially if you know you’ve got a cosy cottage to come back and relax in! You can start from any point on the island, and go in any direction, but we would definitely recommend checking multiple sources of information to guarantee you’ll be able to pass through certain areas. We’ve found a brilliant resource to help you get started – which can be found here. And, if you do walk the island we’d love to hear from you!