The Isle of Wight: Coastal Path Walk

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful island just off the south coast of England. It’s like England in a microcosm with lovely countryside, pretty villages, ancient houses and lots of great walks. There are lots of things to do on the island and you can see my post on what to do there HERE.

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path runs the whole way around the island, spanning over 110km. You could walk the whole thing, and to be honest you won’t find a ‘bad’ section of the route because the entire route is full of beautiful sea views. However, if you’re visiting the island as a tourist, I think the best section is to walk from Freshwater Bay across Tennyson Down and to The Needles and Alum Bay to take in some of the main sites of the island on your walk. You can then cross back across The Downs for spectacular views all the way across to mainland England and back to your start point.

Hike Information

Location: We chose to park at Freshwater Bay car park, which had ample parking and do a loop back to the same starting point. There are two car parks at Freshwater – the Long Stay which is closer to the start point of the walk and costs money, or the Clifftop car park which makes the walk slightly further but is free.

Hike distance and time: The hike distance is around 7 miles, and took us 5 hours to complete (with a few ice cream stops and lots of photo stops!)

Terrain: The walk is largely flat and there are no difficult climbs or scrambles involved.

There are also lots of other wonderful walks on the Isle of Wight – you can see more of my favourites in my post HERE.

Views at the start of the walk just on from the car park

The route

The route that we followed can be found on the Visit Isle of Wight website HERE.

A. Freshwater Bay to Tennyson Monument

Start your walk off my heading down to Freshwater Bay – the views out from the clifftop are just spectacular, and you might as well start off your walk with an ice-cream if the weather is nice! After taking in the beautiful bay, walk west along Gate Lane past the hotel. Turn left by the public toilets and then right through the kissing gate to access Easton Field on to Foot Path 50, which will join Foot Path 25 and 24 along the cliff top. Keep walking along the cliff (don’t go too close to the edge if it’s windy!) until you reach a large monument which is a huge granite cross commemorating the life of the poet, Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Walking along the coastal path towards the Tennyson Monument with my Dad

B. Tennyson Monument to The Needles

After pausing at the Monument for a drink and a little breather, it’s time to continue along the same coastal path until you reach the end of the headland. Follow the footpath down to the viewing platform and here you will see one of the most famous views on the Isle of Wight – The Needles, a famous rock formation.

At The Needles viewpoint

Continue around and you will arrive at a series of military sites from the Needles Old Battery, New Battery and the rocket testing sites for Black Knight and Black Arrow. This site was used for top secret rocket testing until 1971.

C. The Needles to Alum Bay and Headon Warren

After enjoying the needles, follow Foot Path 23 into Alum Bay Chine, which is a beautiful multi coloured sandstone cliff. After enjoying the cliff views, take Foot Path 22 out again to bring you to Headon Warren, a coastal lowland heathland covered in heather and Gorse which provides habitat for insects, birds and animals.

The coloured cliffs of Alum Bay

This section made me laugh as there I was enjoying taking my photos and taking in the views….and I turned around to see my Mum and Dad on their phones (!) – and they say it’s me who is always distracted!

D. Headon Warren to Freshwater Bay across Tennyson Downs

For the final section of the walk, wiggle back from Headon Warren to Freshwater Bay by following paths 16 and then 24 back across Tennyson Downs but this time in land enjoying the amazing views which stretch all the way back to mainland England. Eventually you will arrive back at Freshwater Bay after a hopefully lovely walk.

Views back across Tennyson Downs towards Freshwater Bay

That finishes off a wonderful walk – what do you think? I thought it was a beautiful way to spend the day and got to take in a lot of the sites of the island too. If you’re interested in finding out more about the Isle of Wight, please check out my other posts:

Thanks for reading – stay safe and happy travelling!


  1. Exploring sections of The Isle of Wight along the Coastal Path on the sea sounds like a splendid manner in which to enjoy this ‘microcosm’ of England! Your photographs are lovely, with expansive vista views. Thanks for sharing, dear Hannah 😊

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  2. I’ve only visited the Isle of Wight once on the ferry from Lymington which brought us to Yarmouth which is a pretty little town. Seeing your lovely photos I’d like to spend a few days on the island exploring more. So nice that your parents joined you on the trip Hannah.

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    1. Ah I didn’t make it to Yarmouth but explored lots of other spots in the island – it’s really beautiful, we spent a whole week there and weren’t bored at all. 🙂 Yes very lucky, we do an annual trip – this year we are off to Carcassonne in France!

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  3. Beautiful! I’ve heard of the Isle of Wight, but I had no idea what there was to see and check out there. The green-capped cliffs are gorgeous, reminiscent of those in Dover, or Étretat in France. I’ve always wondered how the mossy(?) ground was so smooth and manicured, and if gardeners actually came to care for it, haha! A lovely hike with stunning views all around!

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    1. There is actually loads to do on the island, which people don’t really realise. It’s got stately homes, and castles, and coast line and great walks, plus post card perfect villages – all really close as the island is only small. It’s a great way to spend a weekend/even longer if you have the time 🙂

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  4. How beautiful! I have always been curious about this island (I think there is a faous italian song about it maybe?) and even though I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t like to live there, it is always so interesting to me to see these types of places! For sure the views were gorgeous and you were blessed with a fantastic weather! The Alum Bay reminds me of some parts of Cornwall as well! This will definitely be in my list next time I’m in the south of England! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I couldn’t live there either Juliette, it would be far too remote for me BUT it’s totally perfect for a weekend/week long visit to enjoy the scenery and things to do. I agree it looks similar to Cornwall for sure 🙂 Thanks so much for reading

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