Walking on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight Coastal Path and 24 coastal and countryside walks
By Paul Curtis
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.
SeasonsThe 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.
CentresSandown, Shanklin, Ventnor, Godshill, Ryde, Yarmouth, Newport
DifficultyWalks 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 SeeMagnificent 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.
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.
Geography and landscape
A potted history
When to go
Getting to the island
What to take
Walking in groups
Walking with children
Using this guide
Walk 1 Sandown to Ventnor
Walk 2 Ventnor to Chale
Walk 3 Chale to Brook
Walk 4 Brook to Alum Bay
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
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
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
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The island is indeed 'England in miniature'. It really does have a little bit of everything.
Having been here for more than 40 years, I know the walks described. Paul has a good selection. When using any guide book, always take an OS map with you. This book is quite chunky, but it is pocket size, and the pictures are good. I feel Paul Curtis has enjoyed writing it.
Jill Green, Strider
If recreational walking is the island’s crown, then the Coastal Path must be its jewel
There is a great deal more to the Isle of Wight than ‘bucket and spade’ holidays. As author Paul Curtis points out, there are an incredible 326 miles of footpaths, including a 70 mile coastal path, on an island measuring 23 x 13 miles. The default scenery is undulating downland, interspersed with wooded areas, never far from glimpses of the sea.
Although Paul Curtis, who lives on the Isle of Wight, describes differences in the island’s population, there is a strong sense of community. Serious crime is very rare and there is a distinct lack of ‘edge’, which perhaps reinforces the widely held notion that it is ‘stuck in the 1950s’. The rather staid atmosphere today is presumably a great contrast with life before ‘Victorianisation’, when life in the fields was tough, smuggling was commonplace, and the forbidding coastline claimed numerous lives.
Taking a car onto the ferry can be expensive and so visitors may wish to consider leaving it on the mainland. The island’s bus service, is excellent and all of the 33 walks in the book start and end within easy reach of a bus route. There is even a modest railway.
If recreational walking is the island’s crown, then the Coastal Path must be its jewel and links places of considerable interest – from Palmerston’s ‘follies’ to the Tennyson Monument. Add to these some 2,000 listed buildings, and If this sounds like an enticing combination – it is!
Cicerone has carved a niche for itself with high quality OS maps, useful tables and books that are genuinely informative, covering not just routes, but history – natural and cultural – and practical information. Head for Portsmouth Harbour Station and a very civilised adventure.
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Paul Curtis fell in love with the Isle of Wight on his first visit as an adult in 2008. Surprised and inspired by the sheer variety of landscapes in a relatively small area, he kept returning over the next three years and ended up walking nearly every footpath on the island before being commissioned by Cicerone to write 'Walking on the Isleof Wight'. He has lived on the island since 2011 but regularly finds time to walk and cycle on the mainland and internationally.View Articles and Books by Paul Curtis