Top Three Winter Walks
A winter walk that ends at a cosy pub with an open fire and good food or beer – all these are the ingredients for a great day out. Here are our top three Isle of Wight winter walks.
Compton Bay/The Sun Inn
Compton Beach is a great favourite for Isle of Wight walkers, surfers and fossil hunters. Make sure it’s not high tide if you’re going to walk here as in the winter the beach all but disappears, but if this is the case you can still walk along the cliff top path and look down on the crashing waves below.
Walk east from here along to Brook Beach and then take the public footpath to the Sun Inn in Hulverstone. Or, if you have a car, it is only a few minutes to drive to this pretty thatched inn with an open fire in the original front bar and far reaching views to the coast from the garden.
After lunch you could wander up to the Longstone. Take the sunken tree lined pathway that runs up from Mottistone Manor (car park) to this ancient standing stone that marks the entrance to a former long barrow.
St Catherine’s Lighthouse/The Buddle Inn
A walk down to St Catherine’s Lighthouse and Rocken End beach is another favourite ramble and it’s wild in the winter months. If you are coming by car you have to park at the top of St Catherine’s Lane as signs will indicate that the road is closed to public traffic. But as a footpath it is open and as you walk down through the trees and around the corner the view of the lighthouse and the sea will open up in front of you.
It’s a pleasant walk down and a gentle climb back up, until you get to the steep bit at the top. You’ll be looking forward to a drink at the nearby Buddle Inn by this point by the open fire in the bar.
Tennyson’s Monument/The Highdown Inn
Wild and windy or cold and clear, the walk from Freshwater Bay up to Tennyson’s Monument is one you mustn’t miss on a visit to the Isle of Wight. You can imagine Tennyson himself tramping across the cliff tops wearing his long black cape and big brimmed hat as this was one of his most favourite places to roam.
Entry to the pathway up to his monument is via a lane that is 200 yards or so on the left up the main road west to Alum Bay, Gate Lane. There is a small car park here that costs £1 per hour – or a larger car park in Freshwater Bay – and the bus stops at the end of the lane.
It’s a fairly steep climb up to the monument from here, but you are rewarded with wonderful views of the west coast of the Island that become more expansive the higher you climb. Once at the top the whole panorama of the western end of the Isle of Wight, the Solent and the mainland open up in front of you - an amazing sight, especially on a clear, sunny day.
But you don’t have to walk all the way to the Needles. Carry on walking and about half way to the iconic chalk stacks is a beacon to your right that is lit for occasional celebrations. It also marks the lane down to the Highdown Inn where you can get a hearty pub lunch in their bar, which is warmed by an enormous open fire.
Then you’ll be ready to tackle the rest of the walk to the Needles, or you could opt to meander back to the Bay where you could discover the rocky beach and its hidden caves and the Dandelion Cafe.
20 November 2018