With over 500 miles of well-signposted and well-maintained footpaths, around 30 miles of heritage coastline, and half of the Island a recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s really not hard to see why Walking is one of the most popular pastimes on the Isle of Wight for visitors.
Strolling through History
There are plenty of Island trails to take you back in time. Walk with dinosaurs at Brook Bay, which features the Island's famous prehistoric footprints. Ancient burial landscapes can be seen at Afton Down and Headon Warren. Over on the east coast, there's the Island's only surviving windmill, dating from the 1700s, at Bembridge. If you're walking our west, there's a 17th century working watermill at Calbourne, and the Island's military past and long-abandoned rocket-testing site at the world famous Needles.
Nature on foot
There are many organised walks on the Island throughout the summer and winter. The RSPB reserve at Brading, for instance, offers wonderful wildlife including breeding birds, flowers, dragonflies and butterflies. Rare species of butterflies, bees and other insects can be seen in Briddlesford woods, or there's guided wildlife and orchid walks on the Jersey Camp at Porchfield.
Here are a few of our favourite walks:
- Coastal Route
- Distance: 72 miles
- Start: Anywhere on the coast!
- Finish: where you started!
This is a fantastic way to explore the Island, and it's usually broken into six days of walking. Progress is easy on the Isle of Wight coastal path, with mostly mile ascents and descents. The south and west feature striking chalk geology, the north has quiet estuaries, and the whole circuit offers great seascapes and stop-off points.
Victorian West Wight
Distance: 8 miles
Start: Freshwater Bay promenade
Finish: Circular walk
A circular walk from Freshwater Bay that includes classic coastal scenery, grassy downland and memorable sights associated with the Victorians, who loved this part of the Island. The picturesque path crosses both the famous Tennyson Down and Widdick Chine, and passes Alum Bay.
- The Undercliff
- Distance 6.5 miles
- Start: Rare Breeds Park car park, St Lawrence
- Finish: Circular walk
An easy circular walk from the charming village of St Lawrence, through Pelham Wood, climbing to the upper cliff, with great coastal view to Niton. There's a cafe, handily placed for a break, before returning via Whitwell and St Rhadegunds to St Lawrence.
- Tennyson Trail
- Distance: 14 miles
- Start: Carisbrooke Village
- Finish: Alum Bay
Here's one for those seeking a challenge - a hefty trek from historic Carisbrooke, with its famous castle to the headland overlooking The Needles. On the way, you'll climb to the top of Brighstone Down for stunning panoramic views, and pass prehistoric remains to the Tennyson Monument on Highdown Cliffs.
- Worsley Trail
- Distance: 13 miles
- Start: National Trust car park
- Finish: Shanklin Old Village
This trail gives a taste of many types of Island landscape. You start by walking through a pine forest, then pass chalk downland, cross fields and rivers, between old farm buildings, before you reach the coast path at the pretty, traditional seaside resort of Shanklin.
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