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Get back to nature with winter walking on the Isle of Wight

Fri 29 Nov 2013

Get back to nature with winter walking on the Isle of Wight

Think of the Isle of Wight and it's highly likely images of sun-soaked promenades and ice creams on the beach will spring to mind. However, the island also makes for an idyllic winter holiday destination. 

Not only does it boast countless cosy, friendly pubs, where roaring fires and grand hospitality will warm even the coldest tourist, it's also home to a number of walks that can be enjoyed whatever the weather. What's more, most of the best walks offer much more than just great scenery and are gentle enough for all the family to enjoy. Here are three of the best Isle of Wight winter wanders:
 
Explore the wild expanses of Mottistone

Stretching across chalk downs through carefully-cultivated farmland and onto the rugged coast, the Mottistone Estate has everything walkers of all ages and abilities could ask for. While the historic Mottistone Manor may only be open sporadically over the winter, its sprawling grounds are accessible year-round.

If you're just after a brief stroll, then pack a few snacks and amble through pretty Mottistone Common. If, however, you're feeling a bit more adventurous, Mottistone Down offers more of a challenge, especially when the wind picks up. However, it's well worth making the extra effort. The Long Stone, and other standing stones that overlook the common, add a sense of mystery, with evidence of human occupation of this part of the Isle of Wight dating back around 6,000 years.
 
The dramatic Mottistone landscape is just a short distance from downtown Newport, making it a fine day out from the bustling seaside town.
 
Go on a coastal safari from Ryde

If nature is your thing, then a stroll along the edge of the Solent should be high on your 'to do' list. For the best wildlife watching opportunities, follow the advice of the RSPB's ornithological experts and head to the bustling port town of Ryde. From here, head east along the esplanade and then carry straight on along the shoreline. This will lead you first to Bembridge Harbour and then, if the cold winds don't drive you into one of the cosy cafes along the waterfront, onto Branding Marsh.
 
Not only will you be rewarded with breathtaking views across the Solent, you're almost certainly guaranteed to see a wide variety of bird life, with grebes, sandpipers, waders and even peregrine falcons seen here. Warm clothes, a flask of hot tea and a spotting scope, or at least a pair of binoculars, are all highly recommended.
 
Take in the wonders of Western Yar

A perfect walk for families, the Western Yar Circular offers a perfect overview of what makes the Isle of Wight so special, taking in farmland, quaint centuries-old villages and stunning coastal vistas. 

This 3.9-mile circular walk starts at the historic market town of Yarmouth before passing Yarmouth Castle – completed in the year 1547 and now an impressive ruin – the iconic wooden pier and then heading out into the open countryside.
 
Much of the walk follows old bridleways, meaning the going is very easy and perfect for families with young children, while nature-lovers are able to spot a whole host of wading birds, including curlew, when the path reaches the estuary.
 
Thanks to its unique mix of history and natural beauty – indeed, the Western Yar is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – it's not hard to see why this circular walk is a firm favourite among holidaying families whatever the season.ADNFCR-3083-ID-801666841-ADNFCR

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