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Explore the Isle of Wight with a Cicerone guidebook - Introduction

Cover of Walking on the Isle of Wight
10 May 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
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Walking on the Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path and 24 coastal and countryside walks

by Paul Curtis
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to 33 walking routes on the beautiful Isle of Wight, from 4 to 18 miles long. The routes are suitable for all abilities and are accessible all year round. Includes a complete circuit of the island's spectacular coast as well as walks exploring forest trails and downland, and visiting the towns of Yarmouth, Cowes and Ventnor.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
Weight: 270g

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A guidebook to 33 walking routes on the beautiful Isle of Wight, including the 70 mile Coastal Path - a complete circuit of the island's spectacular coast. Ranging from 4 to 18 miles long, the walks explore clifftops, beaches, forest trails and downland, and visit picturesque villages and the towns of Yarmouth, Cowes and Ventnor. Graded easy to moderate, they are suitable for all abilities and are accessible all year round.

The guide contains clear step-by-step route descriptions for each walk, accompanied by an extract from 1:50,000 OS mapping. There is information about refreshment and accommodation options along the route and plenty of details about the island's history and the interesting places encountered. Options for accessing the start and finish using the island excellent public transport are also given for each walk.

With an incredible 326 miles of footpaths in a compact area, there is a huge choice of where to walk, which means that walkers can experience all the diversity the island has to offer – jaw-dropping views such as those from the magnificent coastline of West Wight, St Catherine's Point and the Needles, sweeping downland, as well as 2000 or so listed buildings.

  • Activities
  • Seasons
    The climate is more temperate than on the mainland. Late spring to autumn perfect for inland walks, coastal path quite appropriate for winter (wildness, drama….) Some inland walks can be very muddy in winter.
  • Centres
    Sandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, Godshill, Ryde, Yarmouth, Newport
  • Difficulty
    Walks graded from 'easy' up to 'moderate-strenuous'. Even children can do walks marked 'easy' (at discretion of parents) but optimum user of the book would be adult of at least average fitness. No special equipment needed for any walk.
  • Must See
    Magnificent and very varied Coastal Path, St Catherine's Lighthouse, constant outstanding views, dinosaur fossils on Compton Bay, red squirrels, honey-pot villages with cosy pubs, Carisbrooke Castle, Ventnor (beautiful with its own microclimate), beaches, under-explored gems like lonely Newtown Harbour... Over half the island is an Area of Outstanding National Beauty. Tennyson connection.
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Geography and landscape
A potted history
Modern society
Principal locations
When to go
Getting to the island
Getting around
What to take
The countryside
Walking in groups
Walking with children
Using this guide
Coastal Path
South coast
Walk 1 Sandown to Ventnor
Walk 2 Ventnor to Chale
Walk 3 Chale to Brook
Walk 4 Brook to Alum Bay
North coast
Walk 5 Alum Bay to Yarmouth
Walk 6 Yarmouth to Shalfleet
Walk 7 Shalfleet to East Cowes
Walk 8 East Cowes to Ryde
Walk 9 Ryde to Sandown
West Wight
Walk 10 Shorwell circular
Walk 11 Shorwell to Niton
Walk 12 Brighstone circular
Walk 13 Brighstone to Yarmouth
Walk 14 Best of eastern Freshwater (circular)
Walk 15 Best of western Freshwater (circular)
Walk 16 Shalfleet and Newtown circular
Walk 17 Shalfleet to Newport
Walk 18 Gatcombe to Newport
Walk 19 Tennyson Trail
East Wight
Walk 20 Shanklin circular via Nettlecombe
Walk 21 Shanklin circular via Bonchurch
Walk 22 Shanklin circular via America Wood
Walk 23 Shanklin to Godshill
Walk 24 Niton circular (the two lighthouses walk)
Walk 25 Ashey Station circular
Walk 26 Ryde to Ventnor
Walk 27 Seaview circular
Walk 28 Wootton Bridge circular
Walk 29 Wootton Bridge to Newport
Walk 30 Bembridge Trail
Walk 31 Worsley Trail
Walk 32 Shorwell to Brading
Walk 33 Godshill to Ventnor
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts


It is surprising that, in spite of the Isle of Wight’s beauty and elegance, this peaceful and perfect-sized island is often dismissed simply as a place to go for a long weekend or somewhere to send children on school trips. Perhaps it is because many visitors tend not to penetrate the island beyond the resorts and the tourist attractions. But those with curiosity are likely to fall in love with this place; its variety of scenery and understated aesthetic qualities are appreciated most by those on foot, with almost everywhere being accessible courtesy of the green buses which stand out on the landscape. The Isle of Wight is made for walking!

Nearly half the island is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but this is misleading as almost the entire island can rightly be called beautiful. There are jaw-dropping views such as those from the magnificent coastline of West Wight, St Boniface, Culver and Brading Downs, St Catherine’s Point and the Needles. And there is also a gentler, more intimate beauty at countless locations unknown even by many islanders, such as remote Newtown Harbour, an ‘undiscovered’ balcony trail near Gatcombe, and even the scenic path linking urban Carisbrooke and Newport.

Yaverland cliffs (Walk 9)

The island’s default scenery is graceful, undulating downland, very attractive to the eye, and if you walk in any direction for up to 5 miles you would almost certainly glimpse the sea. Tree-lovers are also well catered for, with the large and lonely Brighstone Forest being particularly attractive, situated on top of the magnificent West Wight ridge of downs and offering enchanting sea views from its southern fringe. And sea-lovers will be enamoured with the Coastal Path; simply a stunner! Only thrill-seeking walkers or those not interested in anything except alpine scenery would be disappointed with the Isle of Wight.

There are an incredible 525km (326 miles) of footpaths on an island of just 381 square kilometres (147 square miles), and there are more footpaths and bridleways than roads. Such a choice of where to walk means that walkers can experience all the diversity the island has to offer – not only scenery but also many of the 2000 or so listed buildings – and that the trails are not too crowded, except on very popular routes in high season.

The Isle of Wight is an ideal size for a walking holiday – not so small that visitors can become familiar with it in under a week, yet small enough to walk from Bembridge on the east coast to the Needles on the west coast in a single day. Away from the few towns and sometimes cheesy (yet charming) coastal resorts, the island is genuinely a walker’s paradise: an overused term, but definitely applicable in this case. This is not just because of the consistently attractive, varied scenery and preponderance of footpaths, but also because of a particularly mild, temperate climate, exceptionally good access to walks via public transport, and optimum levels of safety – the last of which makes it an especially good destination for beginners and families to try some walking.

The fact that the Isle of Wight is not teeming with walkers all year round is everyone else’s loss and your gain.

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