The chalk downs at the western end of the Isle of Wight offer some excellent walking. This route starts from Freshwater Bay and visits the Tennyson Monument before continuing to the Needles at the Far end of the island. The route also offers a good view of Alum Bay and on the final descent a grand panorama looking east along the coast to St Catherine's Point.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
(D/A)The start is the pay and display car park opposite the beach at Freshwater Bay (grid ref. SZ346858) just off the A3055. After parking, exit the car park to the beach. Facing the sea, turn right and walk along the road to the public conveniences and turn left up the signed footpath along a lane. This climbs steadily and quite soon you leave the lane for the open downs. Do remember there are high unprotected cliffs so care is needed with children. Following the clear path ahead you soon see the Tennyson Monument ahead of you. From here the view extends along the southern coast of the Isle of Wight.
(1)From the monument there is a main ridge path veering slightly right and a lesser used green path that veers slightly to follow the cliffs more closely. Take the latter eventually reaching a stile in a wire fence (grid ref. SZ318851). Cross the stile and continue now with a fence between you and the cliffs. Continue in a westerly direction aiming for the radio mast ahead.
(2)Cross the fence here, pass the radio station and drop down on a stony path to a concrete road. Bear left and then turn right on a concrete path to the observation point for the Needles. This area was used for rocket testing in the 1960s and 70s and there are some information boards detailing this piece of modern history. The observation post offers the best view of the Needles from the land.
(3)Return to the concrete road and bear left. This will lead you round to the Needles Old Battery now managed by the National Trust. In season there are refreshments available here. To continue walk up to the old coastguard cottages and take the path that goes behind them. This leads you back onto the downs. Instead of dropping down to the clifftop path used on the outward route stay on the crest of the ridge. This path offers some excellent views across Alum Bay to the mainland.
(4)Reaching a junction of paths at a fence (grid ref. SZ318853), bear slightly right and continue along the main ridge path to the Tennyson Monument. You have now rejoined the outward route and all that remains is a gentle descent to the start with some excellent views east along the coast.
D : km 0 - alt. 4m - Start: Freshwater Bay car park
1 : km 2.24 - alt. 117m - Tennyson's Monument
2 : km 3.19 - alt. 81m - Continue west toward radio mast
3 : km 5.08 - alt. 103m - Needles Old Battery
4 : km 7.15 - alt. 106m - Junction: bear right
A : km 10.2 - alt. 9m - Finish: Freshwater Bay car park
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
This walk explores the far west of the Isle of Wight. The route climbs to the Tennyson's Monument set high on Tennyson Down before walking to the viewpoint overlooking the Needles. In addition you get fine views of Alum Bay.
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