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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!