The Whole Isle of Wight Coastal Path
Isle of Wight Coastal Path in 7 Days Walking Code: IW8
We offer 4 itineraries covering the whole of the route. The longer the itinerary, the shorter the distance that you have to walk each day.
This is the longest of our Isle of Wight itineraries, making a full circuit of the island at a gentle pace, walking on average just 10 miles each day. An ideal choice for anyone wishing to take more time to explore this fascinating coastline.
|Day 1||Travel to Cowes for your first nights accommodation|
|Day 2||Cowes to Shalfleet then transfer back to Cowes||9||14|
|Day 3||Transfer back to Shalfleet then walk to Totland||11||18|
|Day 4||Totland to Freshwater Bay||7||11|
|Day 5||Freshwater Bay to Chale||11||18|
|Day 6||Chale to Shanklin||9||14|
|Day 7||Shanklin to Seaview||12||19|
|Day 8||Seaview to Cowes||11||18|
|Day 9||Depart from Cowes after breakfast|
Cowes to Yarmouth
Our walk begins in the bustling sailing town of Cowes and we follow the coastline in the direction of Egypt Point, the northernmost point of the island. From here the trail leads us through Gurnard and along cliff tops before descending onto the beach at Thorness bay. Look out for redshanks, oyster catchers and ringed plovers here. The birdlife continues as we turn inland and through the Newtown National Nature Reserve en route to the charming village of Shalfleet. Beyond Shalfleet we return to the coast and journey through woods at Bouldnor Cliff before arriving in the lovely and lively sailing harbour of Yarmouth.
Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay
Leaving Yarmouth we cross the river Yar and head through Fort Victoria Country Park before arriving at the village of Totland. Next up is the picturesque sandy beach at Totland Bay. From here we walk over the stunning Headon Warren catching our first glimpse of the three pinnacles of the Needles and the multi-coloured cliffs of Alum bay. The grassy, whale backed ridge of Tennyson Down leads us to Freshwater Bay.
Freshwater Bay to Chale
Clifftop and chines (coastal gullies) dominate the landscape as we journey from Freshwater Bay to Chale. The cliffs are a mixture of towering white chalk, crumbling sandstone and blue slipper clay. This stretch of coastline is one of the richest areas for dinosaur discovery in Europe. Just ahead of Chale is Whale Chine the most spectacular of all the coastal gullies.
Chale to Shanklin
Leaving Chale we come to St Catherine’s Point. It is the southernmost point of the island and home to one of the oldest lighthouse locations in Great Britain. Next up is the seaside resort of Ventnor and beyond there, The Landslip, named after the great landslip of 1810. There was further significant movement in 1928 and to this day it continues to slip very gradually. We pass through the pretty Luccombe Village as we make our way to Shanklin, which still retains some of its Victorian elegance.
Shanklin to Seaview
The walking is easy as we curve round Sandown Bay and onto Culver Down. Look out for plants such as small scabious, harebell, cowslip and lady’s bedstraw on the chalk down. Foreland, part of the village of Bembridge marks the easternmost point of the island. From Bembridge we turn inland to skirt round Bembridge Harbour before rejoining the coast at Horestone Point ahead of the small Edwardian resort of Seaview.
Seaview to Cowes
This final section of the Isle of Wight Coastal Path clings to the coast as far as Ryde, the largest town on the island, before taking a step back as it finds its way to Fishbourne. From here we cross Wootton Creek, a tidal estuary flowing into the Solent. Having crossed the creek we remain inland as we make our way to East Cowes and the River Medina, completing our circuit. The most popular attraction on this final section is arguably the stunning Osborne House, a favourite retreat of Queen Victoria.
Easy to Moderate
This is a coastal walk, not technically difficult, and if walked at a comfortable pace, can be completed by people with limited walking experience. Only when significantly reducing the number of walking days and increasing the distances walked, will the experience become more challenging.
Terrain: A mix of chalk and sandstone cliffs, sandy beaches and pleasant countryside. There are one two road sections also.
What’s it like underfoot? Generally, well defined and maintained tracks and paths. These can be a bit sandy at times and some sections can get a little muddy after heavy rain.
How Much Up & Down? There are occasional ascents and descents to and from sea level.
Signposting: Generally good.
Navigation: Pretty straightforward. In addition to detailed route notes, the coastal path is marked on the Ordnance Survey map.
|Accommodation||Overnight Bed and Breakfast accommodation in selected hotels, farmhouses, village inns, guest houses and family B&Bs.Full English or Continental breakfast.|
|Guidebook||Detailed route notes.|
|Information of Services Along the Route||A comprehensive Service Info sheet, including services such as cash points, banks, post offices, village shops, inns, cafes and taxis.|
|Maps||An Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) map covering the entire route.|
|Personal Itinerary||A personal itinerary setting out each overnight stop, including large scale maps of each accommodation, to ensure you find it easily.|
|Emergency Telephone Support||If you get into difficulties during your holiday, we are always available to help, even out of office hours.|
|15% discount at Cotswold Outdoors||We will issue you with a 15% Discount Card valid at all Cotswold Outdoor stores, and online, for the whole year on confirmation of your booking.|
|Luggage Transport||We will transfer your luggage between each overnight stop – if you leave your luggage at the accommodation when you set off in the morning, it will be moved on to your next B&B. You only need to carry a small day sack with the clothes and provisions you require during the day’s walk.|
|Packed Lunches||Provided for each day’s walking and recommended on this holiday as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.|
|Off Road Parking||If you are travelling by car, we can usually arrange off road parking for the duration of your trip. (There may be a small charge for this).|
|Arrangement of return transport||We can also arrange your transfer back to your car, (or advise you when public transport is a better option)|
|What’s not Included|
|Evening Meals||Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20.00 per night.|
|Transport to the Start & Away from the Finish||Have a look at the “Travel Info” tab above for suggestions. If you’re still struggling, get in touch and we’ll help you sort it out.|
|Travel Insurance||Even if you are based in the UK travel insurance is worth having.|
Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements. As well as visiting the accommodation ourselves, we ask all our customers to complete a short evaluation on each night’s accommodation, which then gives us an insight into the day-to-day operation and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.
We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the more remote locations accommodation is limited and occasionally we may have to book rooms with shared bathrooms for one or two nights of your holiday, (especially if the booking is made at short notice), but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.
Here are a some of examples of the accommodation we use along the Isle of Wight Coastal Path:
In the seaport town of Cowes, Mark and Andrea welcome you at Caledon Guest House. They offer the perfect mix of a friendly, welcoming bed and breakfast with the spacious, non intrusive feel of a small hotel. Their lovely old guest house has a modern feel, with original floorboards, high ceilings and lots of Victorian features. Visit their website
Sentry Mead is a relaxed and friendly guesthouse in the tranquil surroundings of Totland Bay. Owners Sarah and Jean-Pierre assure you of a relaxed and informal getaway at their wonderful Victorian villa, just 120 yards from the beach. Visit their website
Old Shanklin Guest House is modern, comfortable, friendly and right in the heart of Shanklin Old Village, just 5 minutes’ walk from the beautiful beach. A warm welcome awaits you from Sarah and Gareth who are at hand to tell you all about the traditional tea rooms, pubs and great selection of restaurants on offer. Visit their website
Your host at The Bay Boutique Bed and Breakfast in Freshwater Bay is Paul. The Bay has undergone a loving and complete two-year eco-friendly restoration. Solar panels provide electricity, heating and hot water; lighting is provided by LEDs and sensors turn lights on and off as required. All this, whilst retaining and restoring original Victorian period features. Visit their website
General travel information for the Isle of Wight Coastal Path will be in your holiday pack.
Detailed instructions on getting to your first night’s accommodation by car, or on foot from the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.
If you require secure car parking whilst walking this route, please contact us for information.
To reach the Isle of Wight you will need to take the ferry crossing. There are several options for ferries depending on whether you cross as a passenger or with a vehicle – from Portsmouth, Southampton or Lymington.
From Portsmouth there are passenger only ferries to Ryde Pier or vehicle ferries to Fishbourne. Hovercrafts also run from nearby Southsea to Ryde Esplanade.
From Southampton there are passenger only ferries to West Cowes or vehicle ferries to East Cowes.
From Lymington there are vehicle ferries to Yarmouth.
Once on the island, buses run regularly servicing the ferry terminals and towns.
By air: The nearest major international airports are London Gatwick and Heathrow. The nearest regional airport is Southampton. Gatwick and Heathrow have good transport links to London train stations, you can get a train from Southampton Airport Parkway to Southampton Central for trains to Portsmouth.
By public transport: There are regular trains from London Waterloo and London Victoria stations to Portsmouth Harbour, the National Express 030 service from London Victoria also stops at the harbour. There are also regular trains from London Waterloo to Portsmouth & Southsea station if you are crossing by hovercraft from Southsea.
By road: The M3 splits at Southampton, for Portsmouth take M27 east to junction 12 then take the M275 and follow signs for the ferry terminals.
By air: The nearest major international airports are London Gatwick and Heathrow. The nearest regional airport is Southampton. Gatwick and Heathrow have good transport links to London train stations, you can get a train from Southampton Airport Parkway to Southampton Central.
By public transport: Cross Country trains bound for Bournemouth stop at Southampton Central and there are regular trains from London Waterloo to Southampton Central. There are also National Express services (032/035) to Southampton. The Quayconnect shuttle bus runs between Southampton Central and the ferry terminals on Town Quay.
By road: Follow M3 to A27 (exit 14) then take A33, leave at Town Quay for ferry terminal.
By air: The nearest major international airports are London Gatwick and Heathrow. The nearest regional airport is Southampton. Gatwick and Heathrow have good transport links to London train stations, you can get a train from Southampton Airport Parkway.
By public transport: There are regular trains from Brockenhurst station to Lymington Pier. Trains from London Waterloo bound for Weymouth and Cross Country trains bound for Bournemouth will stop at Brockenhurst.
By road: The M3 splits at Southampton, for Lymington take M27 west and exit towards Lyndhurst on A337. Follow A337 through Brockenhurst to reach Lymington.
As this is a circular route you will be walking back to your starting location so you can depart by the same means you arrived.
The picturesque town of Cowes is a perfect place to spend an additional day, before or after your circuit of the island.
Visit Osborne House the one-time seaside retreat of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Partake in sailing and water sports or visit one of the many galleries and maritime museums.
There’s a fantastic selection of boutique clothing stores and independent gift shops. Restaurants, pubs, cafes and wine bars offer food and drink from around the world. Locally grown and produced fish, meat, vegetables, wine, beer and even gin are in good supply too.
As with Freshwater Bay, Totland is an ideal location to spend an extra day visiting the Needles Landmark Attraction at Alum Bay. Hop on the bus or walk along.
Add an extra day at Freshwater Bay and either hop on the bus or walk along to the Needles Landmark Attraction at Alum Bay. Take the world-famous chairlift from the top of cliffs down to the beach beneath and enjoy superb views of the iconic Needles Rocks and Lighthouse.
Want a closer look? Take a boat trip from the jetty for a spectacular trip around the rocks and lighthouse with panoramic views of the Alum Bay sand cliffs.
Take time to look around Alum Bay Glass and the Sand Shop. Why not visit the 4D Cinema Experience too. There’s plenty of refreshments on offer at the licenced tea rooms, the café and various food kiosks.
The island’s oldest tourist attraction is Shanklin Chine, a stunning tree lined gorge that cuts its mark from Shanklin Old Village to the sandy beach and esplanade beneath. On summer evenings hundreds of lights illuminate the narrow paths, streams and waterfalls within the chine.
Shanklin Theatre provides top entertainment all year round for all tastes.
Shanklin Olde Village is a small part of Shanklin Town. It sits on a slightly lower level than the town and contains some of the oldest dwellings on the island, most of which are thatched.
Rylestone Gardens are well worth a visit too. Their displays of hanging baskets and flowers are amazing. There are tea rooms serving refreshments and look out for their programme of events for Rylstone Bandstand where afternoon and evening concerts run throughout the Summer.