Three Best Isle of Wight Walks – and Pubs
A frequent visitor to the island off the south coast of England, Mark Bibby Jackson shares his favourite Isle of Wight walks.
Ever since a child I have been a repeat visitor to the Isle of Wight. One of my first memories is of the dinosaur park there, and I still remember my uncle Bob trying – and fortunately failing – to shoot a rabbit with a crossbow. My grandparents celebrated their 70th anniversary at The Farringford, the former home of Alfred Lord Tennyson. So, the island is full of fond meomories for me.
In more recent years my annual pilgrimage has focused on walking around the Isle of Wight, invariably starting or ending in a pub. Here are my suggestions for three Isle of Wight walks.
Isle of Wight Walk 1 – Towards Tennyson
Heddon Warren to Tennyson Downs – Moderate 3 hours
The most dramatic and scenic of the my three Isle of Wight walks starts at the Waterfront pub at Totland Bay. From here you clamber up the steps and follow the road uphill until you access the coastal path to wondrous Heddon Warren, which is best when the heather is in full bloom. The views across the Solent towards Devon are incredible on a clear day. Follow the path past the bronze age burial mound until you can see the Needles in the distance.
Unfortunately, you have to descend from the warren to the car park near Alum Bay before ascending steeply along the path that heads to the Needles. At the top, turn left away from the mainland and walk along the open grass towards Tennyson Monument. Once here, carry on towards Freshwater Bay where you can have some tea and cake at the tea room at Dimbola, the former home and now museum founded by Tennyson’s friend the photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
To discover more about the affection that Tennyson, Cameron and Queen Victoria held for the island, read Isle of Wight Holidays: Walks, Pubs and Victoria.
Isle of Wight Walk 2 – Along the Estuary
Freshwater to Yarmouth – Easy 1.5 hours
Our second walk is much simpler than the first, and is suitable to walkers of all abilities. It also starts in one of my favourite pubs on the island The Red Lion in Freshwater – the crab mornay is absolutely divine. First, enter the grounds of the Parish Church of All Saints in Freshwater to see the beautiful overgrown cemetery. Then, as you leave, follow the signpost indicating right along the road for the Freshwater Way rather than left to Yarmouth.
Soon you will find yourself on a bridge where swans are gathering for their feed. Cross it and head left along the path that will slowly wind its way towards Yarmouth, along the beautiful estuary through forests. Once in Yarmouth head for the 16th Century Bugle Coaching Inn for a great pint and ploughmans.
Isle of Wight Walk 3 – Beyond Fort Victoria
Yarmouth to Colwell Bay – Easy to Moderate 1.5 hours.
This Isle of Wight coastal walk can always be taking as a continuation of Walk 2. Having refreshed yourself at the Bugle, head through Yarmouth and carry on across the bridge by the main car park towards the coast path – so long as you keep the sea on your right you cannot go wrong. Shortly after the bridge, the coastal path is indicated on your right. Head for this and then along the beach to Fort Victoria, which was built in the mid-nineteenth century as a defence against the French. Pass the fort and then either walk along the beach or up into the woods where you can go on a circular walk through Fort Victoria Country Park.
If you carry on walking away from the fort – still keeping the sea on your right – you will eventually regain the coastal park. Unfortunately, you need to head inland for a bit to bypass the ghastly Linstone Chine Holiday Village. Resist the temptation to sing the theme tune to Hi-de-Hi as you pass through the resort and head down to Colwell Bay beach. Conclude your walk at The Hut arguably the finest restaurant on the island for the most amazing plateau de fruits de mer. Alternatively if the Hut is closed (for winter) then carry on walking to the Waterfront, a few hundred yards away along the coast, where if you so desire you can start your circular walk of the Isle of Wight once more.
It’s advised to check on the tides before undertaking this last walk, unless you want to get your feet wet at Colwell Bay.
Walk Isle of Wight
Every year there is an Isle of Wight Walking Festival. Unfortunately, the 2020 edition was cancelled due to COVID-19, the 2021 festival is due to be held in May.
Getting to the Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is just a 40-minute ferry ride away with Wightlink. A car ferry day return crossing from Lymington to Yarmouth costs from £52.50 with short break car ferry return crossings from £65.50. For foot passengers Wightlink’s tickets cost £14.40 per person. Wightlink’s flagship vessel, Victoria of Wight (which sails from Portsmouth to Fishbourne same rates as above) is England’s first hybrid energy ferry, combining battery power and a conventional engine to save on emissions. For further information and/or to book Wightlink ferry tickets, visit www.wightlink.co.uk.
More information on the Isle of Wight
For more Isle of Wight walking or other inspiration check out the award-winning Visit Isle of Wight website.