Walking on the Isle of Wight
Explore the Isle of Wight on foot.
Walking on the Isle of Wight is an extremely popular pastime, and the Island is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts. Not only do the different terrains offer a variety of challenges, but the landscapes and sunsets provide some incredible sights to admire, which keeps the walkers coming back every year.
What To Expect
The Isle of Wight is an all season walkers’ paradise with more than 500 miles of well maintained footpaths winding through fields and forests. Some 64 miles follow the spectacular coastline, nearly half of which is classed as 'Heritage Coast’, and more than fifty percent is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty.
The Island is also home to the UK's largest annual Walking Festival. There are more than 300 organised walks to choose from, so whether you're interested in the Island's history, nature or the coastline there's a walk for you.
Visit our events section for more information on guided walks and walking festivals.
Walking Routes To Explore
With so much of the Isle of Wight designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty there are hundreds of miles of secluded strolls and walks to discover. Here are four wild walks to get you started.
Headon Warren, Alum Bay
About 5,000 years ago trees on the Warren were cleared to provide grazing for cattle and sheep, leaving acid heathland, which is now a small but important site for heather on the Island. There was a warren here in the 15th century when rabbits were farmed for their fur and food. Today’s rabbits keep the turf short and prevent the heath reverting to woodland. Much of the heath is covered with heather during the summer months. During the 19th century the Warren was home to a fire command station for all the gun batteries in the area, although now only the concrete foundations of Hatherwood Battery remain.
How to get there: turn left along Turf Walk in Totland, West Wight and follow the road. Take the footpath signed to Alum Bay on the right beyond Cape House. Entering National Trust land, go through the wood and continue uphill when reaching open land. You can take the undercliff path, to reach the fort at the far end of the warren but be mindful not to get lost in its jungle like features. Or take the more obvious higher path that leads you over the ridge and commands breathtaking views out to The Needles and the sea beyond with the Dorset coastline stretching out.
Top Tip: Look out for Rosebay willowherb, centaury, dwarf gorse and tormentil. You may even see the rare Dartford warbler, which breeds here.
The Hampstead Trail
Two well-known houses in the area lie just off the trail. Brook House is where Garibaldi the Italian patriot planted an oak tree and nearby is Brook Hill House, the former home of writer J B Priestley. The Hampstead Trail is one of those walks that seems to encompass so much of the Island landscape. It traverses from North to South, passing alongside salt water marshes, over downland, Ancient burial sites along to the west side of the Island’s coastline, where an incredible fossilised forest is visible at low tide at Hanover Point, Brook. You’ll also get to see every fossil hunter's dream with the dinosaur footprints embedded into the seabed.
How to get there: Starts on the coastal path along the Hampstead cliffs, near Yarmouth, traversing through forests and open farmland in Wellow, before hitting the Tennyson Trail and veering off to Brook Down, and finally Brook beach down below.
Top Tip: For a well deserved pit stop make a short detour to the Sun Inn Pub in Hulverstone, just a few hundred yards past Brook Church.
The Undercliff Walk
Seasoned ramblers can take the longest route along the coastal path from Niton to Sandown. For those seeking something more sedate, the walk from Steephill Cove to Ventnor and Bonchurch is just as enjoyable.
How to get there: Start high above the seashore at Barrack Shute and follow the cliff top path above the undercliff looking down to Binnel Bay and Puckaster Cove. After reaching St Lawrence you follow the cliff path up to Woody Point and Orchard Bay, then onwards toward the very steep steps that lead down to Steephill Cove, where you continue to Castle Cove and ascend to the cliff top path to Ventnor Esplanade. You then follow the sea wall to the picturesque village of Bonchurch.
Top Tip: Takeaway Crab n chips on Ventnor beach from the best fish shop in town, the Ventnor Fishery Haven or grab a crab pasty at the Crab Shack at Steephill Cove.
Nature reserve at your fingertips
For wild walking into nature, Newtown Creek in West Wight is a must. Here you can discover the fascinating history of the Island’s former capital and soak up the amazing birdlife and on the salt marshes and creeks of the Newtown Estuary. The landscape is stunning with its gently rolling farmland, woodland and salt marshes. Today, Newtown, which has no through traffic, is a tranquil place and best explored on foot. You can wander along a network of footpaths through the old streets and visit the beautifully restored Victorian church, and the isolated town hall where you can learn more about the history of this fascinating place. The windswept salt marshes and mudflats, bordering shallow creeks and the estuary all create a magical place, and a paradise for both birds and bird watchers, with a wonderful bird hide where you can spot nesting gulls to flocks of geese.
Top Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for oystercatchers and redshanks, which probe the mudflats for morsels.
See details about some of the Isle of Wight’s most popular and picturesque walking routes.
- Coastal Routes:
Cowes to Yarmouth (16 miles)
A coastal walk in name, this long walk also weaves inland around the Newtown River estuary, passing along cliff tops through villages and woodlands, with fine views of the Solent and mainland beyond.
- Yarmouth to Brighstone (14 miles)
A long walk past the famous pinnacles of chalk that mark the western end of the Island, the Needles. It also passes over downland affording spectacular views of this part of the Island and beyond.
- Brightstone to Niton (8 miles)
Starting at Grange Chine, this walk ambles over cliff tops and offers superb views of the crumbling coastline.
- Niton to Sandown (9 miles)
This coastal walk starts high above the seashore and passes through Ventnor and an area of National Trust land before walking along Victorian promenades next to the sandy beaches of Shanklin and Sandown.
- Sandown to Ryde (12 miles)
A coastal walk that begins on Victorian promenades, then rises over the chalk cliffs of Culver Down and passes around the more tranquil Bembridge Harbour, before returning to promenades once again.
- Ryde to Cowes (8 miles)
This coastal walk links the two historic towns of Ryde and Cowes, meandering past abbey ruins, a former royal residence and a modern day vineyard.
- Chilton to Chine to Brighstone (6 miles)
Not far from the start of this spectacular walk is the National Trust's Mottistone Manor Garden – pause and enjoy a little light refreshment before crossing a glorious rolling landscape to reach the sprawling village of Brighstone.
- Yarmouth to Fort Victoria(6 miles)
With its colour-washed cottages and picturesque square, Yarmouth is just the place to begin an Island walk. The Isle of Wight has always been vulnerable to enemy attack and nowhere is this better illustrated than at Yarmouth.
- St Lawerence to Sandown (7 miles)
A coastal pub walk that passes through Ventnor and areas of National Trust Land, then continues along Victoria promenades next to the sandy beaches of Shanklin and Sandown.
- Medina River Walk (7 miles)
This walk begins in Cowes taking you along the river bank, over lock gates and into Newport Harbour.
- Cowes Boat Trail
This trail can be joined at any point along its route. It takes three hours for the average walker, including stops at points of interest and the floating bridge crossing.
- Appuldurcombe House (8 miles)
A circular walk from Godshill, with views of Appuldurcombe House.
- Stenbury Trail (10 miles)
This walk follows bridgeways along the river valley before gently rising up and over Appuldurcombe, Stenbury and Week Down, affording fine views to both the north and south, then descending to the botanic gardens at Ventnor.
- Hamstead Trail (7 miles)
A walk traversing the Island from north to south, passing alongside saltwater marshes and over downland. Ancient burial sites are also passed en route to the south coast, where a fossil forest is visible at low tide.
- Worsley Trail (13 miles)
During the course of this long walk you will pass beside pine forests, over chalk downland, across fields and rivers, between farm buildings and along the course of the former railway line before entering the historic heart of Shanklin.
- Tennyson Trail (14 miles)
A long and challenging walk with some gradual climbs and crests through forests. You’ll see ancient burial sites, the Tennyson Monument, and The Needles to Alum Bay.
- Bembridge Trail (11 miles)
A walk from the heart of the Island to its eastern tip, over downland, beside marshes at the mouth of the River Yar, passing historic houses and the tranquil village of Brading.
- Nunwell Trail (8 miles)
This walk starts in Sandown and finishes in Ryde, passing water meadows and crossing the spine of chalk downland that runs the length of the Island.
- Shepherds Trail (7 miles)
Starting beneath historic Carisbrooke Castle, you’ll walk up and down the chalky hills of the Island to the coast. Your reward? Great views over the surrounding countryside.
- Freshwater Trail (5 miles)
An easy walk along the estuary of the River Yar. Choose from two picturesque routes: one continuing along the flat river valley, the other rising up Afton Down to finish above the cliffs at Compton Bay.