I am a freelance travel writer creating memories with a 'can do' mind set. I enjoy stepping outside my comfort zone to explore, learn & share. Visit my blog at www.fionatrowbridge.com
Published February 11th 2017
Fancy going for a walk?
My Favourite Walks on the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight on the south coast of England is only about an hour and a half from London. It has more footpaths per head of population than anywhere else in the UK and with a population of over 130,000, that's a lot of footpaths.
Luckily the whole of the Isle of Wight fits onto one OS map either the Explorer Map OL29 1:25 000 scale or the Landranger 1:50 000
Unlike many of the popular walks in Wales, Scotland and the Lake District, the Isle of Wight trails are relatively underused and if it's a quiet undisturbed walk you are looking for, you won't be disappointed. That is apart from the last walk - Walk the Wight which usually sees over 10 000 people taking part in it.
These are my favourite Isle of Wight walks. If you are planning to visit the Isle of Wight, why not check out the other free things you can do while you are there.
Shanklin and St Boniface Down
This walk starts at the back of St Blasius Parish Church, a picturesque church on the road out of Shanklin towards Ventnor.
Walk round to the back via the left-hand side of the church where you will see a footpath marking a section of the Worsley Trail.
From here, it's a fairly steep, and sometimes muddy, climb to the sea mark on Shanklin Down where on a clear day you can see across the island from the white cliffs of Culver Down on one side to the white cliffs of Tennyson Down on the other. There are great views over the bay so don't forget to stop on your way up.
White Cliffs of Culver Down
At this point, you can head back down or carry on over a stile to St Boniface Down, the highest point on the island at 241m. This part is a pretty flat walk around the top of a punchbowl type landscape.
If you do decide to walk to St Boniface Down, you can then walk down to Ventnor where there are plenty Cafes and Restaurants.
Walker Tip: There is free parking at the start of the walk at St Blasius Church and if you walk all the way to Ventnor, there is a regular bus service throughout the year back to Shanklin.
Godshill Circular Walk
Godshill is an ancient village listed in the Domesday Book and the most visited village on the Isle of Wight. Its picturesque tearooms and restaurants and free car parking make it an ideal place to start and end many walks.
The Start of the Walk in Godshill
This walk starts at the thatched café and heads up Church Hollow past the old church to a beautiful row of thatched cottages. You then turn left and pick up the Worlsey trail again and follow it to Bridgecourt Farm and across the road.
You will continue on this path following it round past a duck pond looking out for the remains of the old Bridgecourt Mill hidden in the woodland. When you reach Bagwitch Lane, turn left until you reach Beacon Alley. As you come back round, you will have great views of Culver Cliffs and the old church in Godshill from the unfortunately named Bleak Down.
There are various paths you can take that will bring you back to Godshill.
Walker Tip: Parts of this walk can be quite muddy and I'd suggest walking boots. However the terrain is not difficult nor is it steep, so after a very dry spell, trainers or sturdy shoes might be OK. The walk should take less than an hour and it's a good excuse to pop into the chocolate shop afterwards for a hot chocolate.
Round the Island Coastal Path
Although the coastal path is a circular walk, at 67 miles (107km) it would be considered a long distance walk and probably best enjoyed over a few days. I did it in 4 days and was surprised to find that it wasn't as hilly as I thought I would be.
The coastal path is surprisingly flat with mainly gradual ascents and descents. There are a few climbs but not in comparison to some parts of the island like the Shanklin Down walk.
St Catherine's Lighthouse on the Isle of Wight Coastal Path
On the south side of the island, the views over the bay towards The English Channel are quite stunning and the path follows the coastline very closely. On certain tides, you can even walk along the beach.
On the north side, you are further inland although if you are keen on bird watching, you may be treated to some migrants and residents around the mudflats of Newtown creek.
Old Quarr Abbey Isle of Wight Coastal Path
Walker Tip: There is a good breakdown of the various sections of the coastal path on the Visit Isle of Wight website.
Red Squirrel Walk
This lovely short circular flat walk will take you inland to Adgestone and back along part of the Sustrans Cycle Route 23 from Cowes to Sandown.
Red Squirrel near Hide at Alverstone
You can park near the waterworks at Sandown and Shanklin Golf Club and follow the bridleway to Burnt House Lane. Here you will see a blackboard with recent sightings listed on it. The hide is a few metres to the right of the balckboard and depending on the time of day you visit, you may see anything from kingfishers and buzzards to red squirrels and rodents.
Red Squirrel Walk
The squirrels, finches and tits are quite familiar with humans at this hide which should enable you to get some good close up photos.
Red Squirrel Feeding at the Hide in Alverstone
From the hide, you will probably see cyclists in the distance on the other side of the marsh. That is your return path if you want to make it a circular walk.
Walkers Tip: The hide is overshadowed by foliage and quite dark, so you may want to take a tripod for your camera to catch some good clear shots. There are no shops or cafes on this route.
Walk the Wight
Unlike all the other walks I've mentioned, you will meet thousands of people on this walk. It's an annual charity event which takes place in May each year in aid of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice on the Island.
Walk the Wight has been an annual event on the Isle of Wight for over 25 years and is the largest sponsored walk of its kind in Europe.
Although most of the 26 miles (42km) walk is on public footpaths and bridleways some landowners allow access across their land for this day only each year, so it's a great chance to see some of the island you wouldn't normally see.
Walker Tip: Free buses run all day on the island for walkers who show their walk number. There aren't many shops on the route as it's mostly countryside so make sure you carry enough food and water. More details about this event can be found here.
There are many more walks I could tell you about on the Isle of Wight but if you have a favourite, I'd love to hear about it.