The Walking Programme: The Isle of Wight has more footpaths per mile than any other county’ so we are definitely not short of walks. Our plan is to do 5 days of walking around the island, during the week. The Island walks are far too numerous to mention in their entirety and each offers something unique and as with all coastal locations we will keep the days flexible and tailor the walks as best as we can to the weather. Our ideal plan is to head off to different parts of the island each day so that we can explore the various aspects and get a good overview of the island.
Freshwater Bay itself lies at the foot of the famous white cliffs and offers excellent walking from the doorstep and on the best day we will walk out directly from the house and onto the Downs behind. Here the lush chalk downs are separated from the rich Mediterranean blue waters by the dramatic towering white cliffs. These stunning views accompany us as we make our way over beautiful Tennyson Down which has the unusual feature of having dual aspect coastal views!. These rolling Downs make for excellent walking and lead eventually to the famous Needles. After taking in the views and exploring the bunkers we will then make our way around the coast to the multi coloured Alum Bay where we’ll get views across the South Chanel to the mainland. We can then make our way over Warren Head and across to Totland, where there is a lovely café on the pier. The coast is then followed through Fort Victoria and Fort Albert before we reach Yarmouth, which itself is worthy of exploration. We can then follow the River Yar back across the island to Freshwater and eventually back to the hotel. This stunning walk must be one of the nicest and most varied walks on the island. It is also a very flexible walk as it can be curtailed in many of the villages; Alum Bay, Totland and Yarmouth, all of which we pass through where a bus can be taken back to the hotel.
Another cracking walk goes east from the hotel across Freshwater Bay itself and ascends east over Compton Down, which is another broad and open chalk down with stunning coastal views to the south and open views of the heart of the island to the North. In fact on a clear day you can see back across to the mainland too. After crossing the Down we then skirt through the woodlands of Brook House before seeking out the Long Stone. From here we can continue onwards through the red squirrel sanctuary to visit the lovely village of Brightstone. Once again the walk can be curtailed here, but for those that wish we can continue onto the coast. Here the coastline is much softer and we can follow the gentle cliff top path back to freshwater. Once again this is another very flexible walk and can adapted in distance as there are a number of villages on the bus routes and the coast path parallels the coast road along which the bus follows
Another favourite walk centres around the southern tip of the island and St Catherine’s point. It is possible to make a linear walk back along the coast all the way to freshwater, however there is more variety and interest in doing a circular or even a figure of 8 walk, which enables us to take in some of the bays, the headland as well as St Catherine’s Oratory, Blackgang and St Catherine’s Down before finishing with a pint in the lovely village of Niton. There are also many inland walks and a lot of people enjoy taking in Carisbrook Castle and the picturesque village of Shorwell. Once again this walk can be made as a linear returning over the Downs to Freshwater Bay or you can ride the rolling downs and ridges of the island in a lovely circular walk.
The South Eastern side of the island is somewhat more developed than the peaceful Freshwater Bay. Here the island has its own version of the Cinque Terre and the coastal path links the lovely villages Niton, St Lawrernce, Ventnor, Luccombe and Shanklin. Each of these villages has its own attractions, fresh fish, gardens, historic houses, sandy beaches, long promenades, individual shops, museums, cafes bars and bistros. In between each village there are beautiful stretches of coastline and sublime views. This walk may visit some of the busier parts of the island but it is still one of our favourites as all the places simply have to be visited. The difficulty is trying not to miss something out as there are also the enchanting villages of Calbourne, Godshill and Shorwell, with their picture-postcard thatched cottages and peaceful rural ambience. Oh well we can always return another day.