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Explore the Isle of Wight with a Cicerone guidebook - Sample Route

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

Sample Route

Sandown to Ventnor
StartSandown Pier
Distance10.5km (6.6 miles)
GradeEasy to Shanklin, then moderate
RefreshmentsA sprinkling of seasonal cafés between Sandown and Shanklin. One seasonal café beyond Shanklin (9.7km).
Public transportTo start: bus routes 2, 3 and 8, and train (short walk); from finish: bus routes 3 and 6
ParkingLong-stay car park in Station Avenue; also possible beside the pier
Early finishLake Station (1.2km), Shanklin Old Village (4.7km, bus route 3), top of Devil’s Chimney (7.4km, bus route 3)

The heavily used clifftop path between the two premier resorts on the island, Sandown and Shanklin, makes for an easy, brisk 45min stroll and can even be enjoyed at night. After descending to the beach past the entrance to Shanklin Chine, the route climbs the numerous Appley Steps to lovely Rylstone Gardens in the Old Village and continues up Luccombe Road with its fine, dignified houses. The Landslip follows – a riot of greenery with intermittent sea views. Make a short detour to the old church at Bonchurch, and end this particularly varied walk along the sea wall linking Bonchurch and Ventnor.

Facing the pier at Sandown (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets) turn right. After 200 metres go right by the Ferncliff Path sign to head steeply uphill. Shortly go left up steps and left at the top through Ferncliff Gardens to emerge on a clifftop path. It is also possible to walk to Shanklin along the shore but the clifftop path is arguably more satisfying. This easy concrete path may be rather tame, but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment: the sea views are mostly uninterrupted, and there are frequent benches on which to sit and enjoy the view.

By a café in Lake (accommodation, supermarket, pubs, restaurants, shops) in 750 metres, it is possible to shorten the walk by turning right on footpath SS62, which leads in a few minutes to the station. A minor Coastal Path diversion may still be in operation 650 metres beyond: you are led onto a road where you turn left, then after just 60 metres turn left again to rejoin the clifftop path, now at the start of Shanklin (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets). Pass the seasonal lift (built 1891) in a further 1.2km and continue on the undulating path, soon passing the back gardens of some rather quaint-looking hotels in Keats Green, named after the poet, who frequently visited Shanklin. At the end of the green, descend past a metal barrier all the way to the shore, perhaps visiting Shanklin Chine halfway down – it’s worth paying the admission charge if only to experience the island’s oldest tourist attraction.

Keats Green

Shanklin Chine was opened to the public as early as 1817, and was as popular in the Victorian era as it is now. As well as its beautiful foliage, pretty trails and diverse bird- and animal-life – including resident chipmunks – the Chine boasts a 12m (40ft) waterfall and romantic summer-night illuminations. There is also a permanent exhibition about the wartime Pipe Line Under The Ocean (PLUTO), which ran from the Chine to Cherbourg transporting petrol for Allied troops. The idea came from Lord Mountbatten and was apparently very successful – the enemy never knew about it, and 56,000 gallons of petrol per day was transported this way during 1944.

Turn sharp right at the bottom of the slope to walk along the shore; pass the Fisherman’s Cottage, then after 150 metres go sharp right up the inconspicuous ‘Appley Steps’. At the top, although the Coastal Path continues straight ahead, detour through pretty Rylstone Gardens first. Continue with the sea to the right this time; then when the path ends, return through the gardens, pausing to admire the charming small hotel in its grounds and perhaps have a cuppa in the tea rooms.

Aim for, and exit at, the far right corner of the gardens. Turn right then immediately left to ascend Luccombe Road with its large elegant houses. To end the walk, or perhaps have lunch, turn sharp right on exiting the gardens to reach the centre of Shanklin Old Village (pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets) via the upper gate of the Chine. Bus stops are just up the hill. In 400 metres turn right on a signposted footpath into a field, and immediately left, keeping close to the hedge (or stay on the road if too muddy). Go over a stile in the far corner to return to and continue along the road, enjoying lovely sea views.

Keep straight ahead at a junction and shortly continue on a footpath through woodland. Ignore ways off. After 1.3km, head up steps to enter The Landslip (so called because of the erosion and intermittent landslides that have affected the area since the last ice age), again ignoring ways off the main path and following Coastal Path signs.

After 550 metres, to shorten the walk, take V65c up the notorious ‘Devil’s Chimney’: a tough 10min climb up 225 steps, one section narrowly wedged between cliffs. At the road behind the Smugglers Haven turn right for bus stops.

Otherwise, the path continues to wind around The Landslip’s foliage. After 800 metres, turn right – initially up three steps. After 150 metres bear left and left again at the next junction, but not before detouring a short way to the right to see isolated St Boniface Church at Bonchurch (limited accommodation, pub, restaurant), nestled in its pretty churchyard (see Walk 21).

Shortly after this junction there is a choice of paths; take either, as both eventually emerge on a sea wall at Wheelers Bay (if taking the upper path bear left at the end). Continue along it to reach the seafront at Ventnor (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets). For the main shopping street and bus stop, turn sharp right up the slope opposite the Hygeia mosaic at the start of the seafront proper, and continue up Pier Street to the T-junction. Take a peak into Alexandra Gardens on the way: Elgar honeymooned at number three.

Sea wall to Ventnor

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