Winter Beaches

Beaches of the Isle of Wight turn into spectacular backdrops during the winter months, especially for walking your dog and riding your horse along the sands. The beaches are now open for all, including dogs and horses, and it’s great to feel free to enjoy the crashing waves and blustery weather, running with your dog or cantering along on horseback.

Wild Walks with your Dog

The West Wight beaches have to be the best for wild weather and stunning scenery, with beaches such as Brook and Compton filling up with dog walkers and miles of sandy beach at low tides. At Compton you can find fossils and at Brook beach you can see dinosaur footprints at low tide and casts of these huge prints in stone on the beach.

Yaverland is a great beach for dog walks all year round and it too has fossil and dinosaur remains, particularly during the winter months as they are uncovered by the sea pounding against the cliffs. Take a fossil walk from nearby Dinosaur Isle to learn how to identify these relics from millions of years ago.

If you want a more solitary, and challenging walk, make your way down to the beach at Atherfield and walk along to Whale Chine and Blackgang – but make sure it’s low tide in the middle of your walk. Sadly none of these walks are accessible to horses, but there are plenty of other beaches that have gentle slipways to the beach.

Horsey Walks

All the beaches are open to horse riding in the winter months, as long as you can get down to them on your horse! At Yaverland you can get down the slipway and ride towards Sandown when the tide is low.

Shanklin Beach at the southern end is another expanse of sand that is popular with horse riders and dog walkers at low tide. Walk or ride down the slipway that leads from the end of the seafront. If you’re on foot you can make it round the headland to Luccombe Chine as long as you time your walk on either side of low tide. Hope Beach that runs between the two is also popular with horse riders at low tide and you can get in a good canter along the sands.

Hacking on the Beach

Stables on the Isle of Wight take hacks to most of the other horse accessible beaches on the Island. Take a hack from Hill Farm Stables in Freshwater and you can ride along Colwell Beach at low tide with no breakwaters to impede a good gallop along the sands, although you do have to be aware of the blue slipper clay. From the slipway at Colwell you can ride all the way along to Brambles in the east or towards Totland to the west.

To the easternmost end of the Island, Sally’s Riding School offer horse riding on the beach throughout the year. In the winter they are based near Lane End in Bembridge and hack out off of Bembridge Ledge at low tide. 

Island Riding Centre in Wootton will box you to the beach to hack, and can even accommodate you and your horse at their holiday accommodation. They favour Yaverland or Appley Beaches and take small parties of no more than six riders at a time. Again hacking is dependent on time times but you do get to ride the amazing stretch of Ryde sands at Appley.

Easy Access for Dog Walkers

For a flat walk, Colwell Bay to Totland and back follows the top of the sea wall, and is an easy walk for those with mobility problems. Over in the East of the Island Appley to Puckpool is a similar flat walk along the sea wall, and in Ventnor you can walk to Bonchurch and back along the sea defences. All three of these walks are suitable for wheelchairs and buggies, but you may have to keep your dog on a lead.

Doggie Favourites

Appley Beach is fabulous for a dog who likes to run, with acres of sand at low tide, and two great cafes at Appley and Puckpool to warm up after your walk. Ventnor Beach is always fun for dogs and there’s quite a community of dog walkers – and several dog-friendly pubs and cafes along the seafront. Walk along to Steephill Cove and back from here, for a bracing winter walk with fabulous scenery.

Jo Macaulay

9 January 2019

By Jo Macaulay in Articles