With miles of footpaths, bridleways, esplanade, rolling Downs and cycle paths to explore here on the Isle of Wight, it can be tricky to know where to start when planning a hike or stroll. So, we asked our locals and visitors to share their favourite walking routes with us to share with you, complete with near by bus stops, car parks and pubs and cafes for a pit-stop on route. Here are some of their favourites!

  • Freshwater to the Needles Via Tennyson

Walk in the footsteps of Victorian Poet Laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson as you make your way up Tennyson Downs. Walk long to the Needles Battery and discover the National Trust Old and New Battery where the defence of the realm sits alongside the UK’s early foray in space exploration at the Needles Rocket Testing site.

Stop and catch your breath (or have it taken away) at the Tennyson Monument at the top of the Downs and take a moment to admire the view – on a clear day you can see to the opposite side of the Island and across the water to the mainland UK. And of course, the sight of the Needles Rocks themselves, 3 stacks of chalk that stick out from this furthest western point of the Isle of Wight and a must see for any visitor. Or look south across the English Channel, where you might fancy you can see France!

Travel by Southern Vectis bus using the number 7 or number 12, or catch a ride on the Needles Breezer. Car parking available at Freshwater Bay.

Once at the top, you can stop for a warming coffee at the Needles Battery and try an award winning scone and jam! Eat at The Piano on Freshwater Bay or head to Freshwater Coffee House in the town of Freshwater itself.

Make sure your take time to stop at Dimbola, the home of renowned Victorian photography pioneer Julia Margaret Cameron, or enjoy the lovingly restored gardens at Farringford, the former home of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

  • Brighstone to the Tennyson Trail via the Longstone back to Brighstone

Covering part of the Warrior Trail, this short walk takes in the historic village of Brighstone and through this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty until you reach the Neolithic marker known locally as the Longstone.

As you make your way through Brighstone, be sure to stop at the 800 year old St Mary’s Church and Brighstone Village Museum – this small rural village nestled on the south coast of the Island was home to three bishops (the local pub is named after this fact!) and one of the founding fathers of archaeology, Rev. William Fox.

Head west through Brighstone up the hill using Upper Lane – this will bring you to Mottistone Down – from there, follow the path to the awe inspiring Longstone. Myth and Legend surround the two stones that have been here for thousands of years and it has long been a place for people to gather. A nearby information board explains what you are looking at – and then turn around to admire the views across the downs, where your eye takes in the sweeping vista, with Freshwater Bay to the west and Blackgang Chine to the east.

Take a detour and follow the path down the hill towards Mottistone Manor – an Elizabethan manor stands in the grounds of Mottistone Gardens, in the stewardship of the National Trust. Tickets are available to enter the gardens and enjoy the tranquillity and magic of one of the most beautiful open gardens on the Isle of Wight.

Rejoin the trail and head west through to the village of Brighstone – and don’t forget to smell the flowers along the way!

Travel by Southern Vectis bus to Brighstone using the number 12 or park your car at Brighstone village.

Stop in at The Three Bishops for refreshments and a bite to eat, or stock up on local produce at the two delightful shops in the village!

  • St Helen’s to Culver down via Bembridge and back to the Duver

Follow the Coastal Path for this stunning walk – and make sure you allow for plenty of time, it could take up to four hours!

The sandy spit of land known as St Helens Duver is itself a fantastic place to explore – rock pools and wild green spaces, flora and fauna abound but there is plenty more to see….

Follow the clearly marked blue signs of the Coastal Path to see the east side of the Isle of Wight. In every direction you look, you will be rewarded with stunning views – the coastline and the sea to one side and the breath-taking beauty of the Island’s countryside to the other.

Make your way through the village of Bembridge, winner of the Countryfile Magazine ‘Village of the Year’ award in 2019 - with artisanal shops, cafes and restaurants that will peak your interest – make a note to come back and spend longer in this beautiful village!

Head towards the Bembridge Lifeboat Station to gaze at one of the most stunning launching stations in the UK.

Follow the path atop the white cliffs of the appropriately named Whitecliff Bay, and rising above you is Culver Cliff, clearly recognised by the monument to the Earl of Yarborough, an obelisk of granite that stands out for all to see.

Head back the way you came, see if you can spot what you missed along the way!

Travel by bus to St Helens on the Southern Vectis Route 8 – it will drop you at the corner of Edddington Road – head down Duver Road to reach your starting point.

There is a National Trust car park at St Helen’s Duver.

Enjoy fresh local seafood at the Crab and Lobster Inn.

When you reach Culver Cliff, stop for a break at Culver Haven Inn.

  • Yarmouth to Freshwater along the cycle track

This short flat walk will take you from the picture perfect harbour of Yarmouth along the estuary of the River Yar to its end at Freshwater.

Start your pleasant walk along this beautiful stretch of the West Wight near the Yarmouth Sailing Club. Walk alongside the River Yar (there are two on the Isle of Wight, make sure you are on the Western Yar!), past the Old Mill and through the small gate which leads you directly on to the cyclce path. Now imagine you are transported back 100 years, when this wasn’t a cycle path, but instead  railway line, taking people along the river from the port of Yarmouth to Freshwater, or inland to wards the county town of Newport.

It won’t be too difficult to imagine, at the very start  of the walk you will find ‘Off the Rails’- a stunning restaurant and café set in the lovingly converted railway station of Yarmouth. Enjoy a drink or slice of cake before beginning your short walk – and make a note to come back and visit!

From there, follow the path towards Freshwater. It’s a well laid track, where the spectacular scenery and wildlife will be the only distractions for you. Follow it to the end of the line at Freshwater All Saints Church, but do continue on for the short walk to Freshwater Causeway and rest for a while on the bridge – where the River Yar ends – should it go any further and this part of the Isle of Wight would become separated from the rest!

Turn around and head back the way you came – but maybe pop in for a bite to eat or a drink at the Red Lion, right next to the romantic church you walked by earlier.

When back in Yarmouth, make the choice – stop at Off The Rails – or continue through and explore Yarmouth where you’ll find a castle built by Henry VIII as part of his Solent defences as well as some spectacular places to shop and eat!

Travel by bus using Southern Vectis Route 7 or the Needles Breezer. A large Isle of Wight Council car park is at Yarmouth.

  • Blackgang Viewpoint to the Pepperpot

It may be a short walk, but it’s uphill all the way - the bonus is that going back is downhill!

You can see the Pepperpot from the start point, but the walk up to this strangely named monument is deceptively steep. The bus stops at the Viewpoint car park, and it is a walk across the road before you join the track to the top of the hill.

When you get to the top, it will become clear why it is the called the Pepperpot – it looks exactly like a table condiment... Or a rocket. Or a small church. In fact, it was a lighthouse! We won’t ruin any more of the story, an information board there gives the full history.

But that’s not the only reason to reach the top, as will also become immediately apparent. On a clear day, the breath taking views across the south coast of the Island stretch right the way across to the Needles and beyond to the coast of Dorset and your eyes can take in the almost the entirety of the west side of the Isle of Wight.

Make your way back down the hill for a well deserved ice cream from the van that is (nearly always) parked there. If you fancy something more substantial, then head in to the village of Chale to the Wight Mouse Inn or head towards Niton for the White Lion or further down to Niton Undercliff and enjoy the history of the old smugglers haunt, The Buddle Inn.

If you have kids with you, be sure not to miss the nearby Blackgang Chine – the oldest theme park in the UK!

Travel by bus using Southern Vectis Route 6 or park at the Blackgang Viewpoint car park.

  • Bembridge to Ryde via Seagrove Bay and Seaview

This relaxing coastal walk surely demonstrates why the Isle of Wight has been awarded UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Status, as you pass the human impact on the physical landscape and see how here on the Island, we have worked to lessen that impact.

From the iconic RNLI Lifeboat Station you will head north towards St Helens, walking past the peaceful Bembridge Harbour, where many small dinghys can be seen sailing it’s calm waters, kayakers and paddleboarders also learning how to enjoy the water with local school Tackt-Isle.

Making your way past the houseboats moored alongside the harbour, to the village of St Helens. Turn by St Helens Mill, following the footpath indicating the old Mill Damn Wall. Carry on past the St Helens Duver then make your way slightly inland towards the Priory Hotel – once a monastery established in the 12th century, it is now a lovely hotel. Continue past the grounds, towards Seagrove Bay, recently voted England’s most picturesque beach in a national newspaper- and when you get there, you will see why!

With the 19th century Palmerston forts clearly in sight in the Solent, built to defend England from French invasion, you will come to the stunning village of Seaview, famous for it’s Regatta. You may find yourself walking alongside a celebrity or two, as many have homes in this part of the Island and invite their celebrity friends to join them – our lips are sealed as to who they are!

Make sure you head in to the village – it is a beautiful places, with many small shops and a fantastic deli!

Leaving Seaview, head towards Puckpool, past Springvale with it’s old coastguard cottages – if you fancy cooling your toes down, Springvale Beach has recently won a Clean Water award!

Puckpool – where Bob Dylan and George Harrison once played tennis before Dylan’s performance at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival – offers a range of activities such as mini gold and some great walks around the old Victorian fortification battery.

Continuing through Puckpool, you are greeted by the stretch of golden sands at Appley and Ryde. Watch the hovercraft make it’s way across the Solent from Southsea. But if the beach is not your thing, why not indulge in a spot of tree climbing, under the professional tuition of Goodleaf tree Climbing!

Make your way past the magical Appley Tower, a folly that was once part of country estate that sits just yards from the beach, where the golden sands continue for what seems like forever and you’ll be greeted by cafes and restaurants, and onwards towards the Ryde Canoe Lake. Hire a swan pedalo for a gentle spin around the lake, then continue past the childrens play area on the beach and within minutes you are in the exciting and vibrant town of Ryde itself!

Activities: Bembridge Harbour – Tackt-Isle, Appley - Goodleaf Tree Climbing, Ryde Beach 

Refreshment: Seaview Hotel, The Boathouse, The Old Fort

Travel by bus to Bembridge using Southern Vectis Route 8, the transport interchange at Ryde includes a bus station with routes across the Isle of Wight to your next destination. Car parking is available at Bembridge Beach, near to the RNLI Lifeboat Station

  • Shanklin to Sandown Pier

Shanklin to Sandown Pier along the esplanade and cliff path – or keep going to Whitecliff Bay via Culver Downs for a longer walk. The short flat walk along the revetment above the beach from Shanklin to Sandown is a leisurely stroll that can take just 40 minutes (unless you stop for ice cream along the way) – but if you are looking for more of a challenge, walk the length of the award winning Sandown Bay and up the cliff to Culver Bay to be rewarded with stunning views.

Start at the very far end of Shanklin Esplanade, at the Fisherman’s Cottage, which sits at the bottom of Shanklin Chine, the Island’s oldest tourist attraction.

There is plenty to do at Shanklin sea front, bars and restaurants front the beach, arcades and children’s amusement parks sit next to fish and chip and ice cream parlours, while two crazy golf courses provide entertainment for all ages!

The walk along the raised promenade that connects the two seaside towns of Shanklin and Sandown makes for a beautiful, relaxing stroll between two different and yet uniquely English resorts. From Shanklin, head north to Small Hope Beach to join the revetment, where the sea glistens in the reflected sunlight and above you, majestic cliffs tower above. Brightly coloured beach huts and just a couple of small ice cream and snack shops add to the feel of being on a very English holiday, watching families play on the beach and swim in the sea.

Reaching Sandown, you are first greeted by the pier, a popular place to while away many hours!

Beyond the pier, you’ll find the golden sands of Sandown Beach, which was recently awarded Blue Flag status for it’s facilities and cleanliness. A traditional ‘bucket and spade’ experience, Sandown revels in it’s reputation as the fun place to be, with attractions and distractions to ensure you won’t get bored!

With your walking shoes on, you may find you wish to carry on, so continue north along the promenade and head towards Culver Cliff, jutting out into the sea in the distance.

Make your way towards Yaverland, where you will pass Sandham Gardens with it’s dinosaur themed crazy golf park and Sky Nets climbing adventure and the iconic Dinosaur Isle museum in the shape of a pterodactyl. You also pass the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary - formerly known as the Isle of Wight Zoo -  where the conservation and protection work of the Wildheart Trust is based.

Now in Yaverland, keep the sailing club on your left hand side and follow the blue Coastal Path sign to Culver Down, past the holiday centre and through the gate to the path that leads to you to the top of Culver Down, where you will find the monument to the Earl of Yarborough and you can look back to the stunning views of Sandown Bay and in the distance, Shanklin, where you started your walk.

Activities: Shanklin Seafront, Sandham Gardens, Dinosaur Isle, iSURF water activities in Sandown.

Refreshments: Fisherman’s Cottage, Steamer Inn at Shanklin, The Bandstand at Sandown.

Travel by bus to Shanklin using the Southern Vectis Route 2 or 3, then catch the Shanklin Shuttle to take you down to Shanklin Esplanade. Two large Isle of Wight Council car parks are situated on Shanklin Esplanade.

  • Shanklin to Ventnor

Shanklin onto to Ventnor coastal path, across the downs, through the botanical gardens and down to Steephill Cove.

Moving inland from the coast, this walk takes in incredible views and passes through history from the Bronze Age to the Cold War era! There are some steep hills and fields with cattle, so please keep animals on a lead – and make sure you take plenty of water as there are no refreshment stops on this route.

From the bus stop at Big Mead, head south towards the 12th century St Blasius Church and head towards the Worsely Trail – although you won’t be following this trail for long! Make your way across Luccombe Downs towards Ventnor. Luccombe Downs is the site of Bronze Age burials and 10 bowl barrows remain, although more may be beneath this majestic landscape.

As you reach the end of L:uccombe Downs, you will find a radar surveillance station, the origin of which can be found in the Second World War when the site was known as RAF Ventnor, housing a bunker deep underground to continue war operations in the event of a nuclear attack as the world moved in to the Cold War era.

This means you are now on St Boniface Down, the highest point on the Isle of Wight. The land is managed by the National Trust and Old English Wild goats roam freely here, subjected to count every October when volunteers are called upon to shepherd them together to make counting easier!

Making your way to the bottom of St Boniface Down using Down Lane and follow the footpaths by the side of the road through Ventnor. Be sure to look out for the wall lizards that live in the wild all across the town – unless you come across one warming itself in the sun, then all you might see is a quick flash in the corner of your eye!

Ventnor Botanic Garden was created on the site of a former hospital for respiratory conditions, it is now home to a world famous garden, laid out over many acres in different themes. Here, you will find many plants growing in the ground that you won’t see anywhere else in the country, thanks to unique nature of Ventnor’s microclimate – leading to the title of the UK’s Hottest Garden!

Walk through the Botanic Garden to towards the sea, where you will find a footpath that leads to one of the Isle of Wight’s most hidden treasures – Steephill Cove. No roads lead down to the cove, and be warned, it is called Steephill for a very good reason!

The reward at the end is worth it. A traditional and incredibly picturesque fisherman’s cove, where small boats still pull up to give up their daily catch of local crab and lobster. There are places to eat, but plenty of space to sit on the small sea wall with a well-earned meal and a drink and enjoy the end of your walk.

Activities: Ventnor Botanic Garden

Refreshments: Edulis Restaurant, Ventnor Botanic Garden, Beachside cafés and restaurants at Steephill Cove.

Travel by Southern Vectis to Shanklin Big Mead using Route 3. An Isle of Wight Council car park is at Shanklin Big Mead.