News, views and guidebooks for walking, trekking and cycling
Here’s a sample route from the new Cicerone guidebook to Walking on the Isle of Wight, written by Paul Curtis. This 2 1/2 hour walk is 6.6 miles long and is graded easy to moderate.
|Distance||10.5km (6.6 miles)|
|Grade||Easy to Shanklin, then moderate|
|Refreshments||A sprinkling of seasonal cafés between Sandown and Shanklin. One seasonal café beyond Shanklin (9.7km).|
|Public transport||To start: bus routes 2, 3 and 8, and train (short walk); from finish: bus routes 3 and 6|
|Parking||Long-stay car park in Station Avenue; also possible beside the pier|
|Early finish||Lake Station (1.2km), Shanklin Old Village (4.7km, bus route 3), top of Devil’s Chimney (7.4km, bus route 3)|
The heavily used clifftop path between the two premier resorts on the island, Sandown and Shanklin, makes for an easy, brisk 45min stroll and can even be enjoyed at night. After descending to the beach past the entrance to Shanklin Chine, the route climbs the numerous Appley Steps to lovely Rylstone Gardens in the Old Village and continues up Luccombe Road with its fine, dignified houses. The Landslip follows – a riot of greenery with intermittent sea views. Make a short detour to the old church at Bonchurch, and end this particularly varied walk along the sea wall linking Bonchurch and Ventnor.
Facing the pier at Sandown (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets) turn right. After 200 metres go right by the Ferncliff Path sign to head steeply uphill. Shortly go left up steps and left at the top through Ferncliff Gardens to emerge on a clifftop path. It is also possible to walk to Shanklin along the shore but the clifftop path is arguably more satisfying. This easy concrete path may be rather tame, but that in no way detracts from the enjoyment: the sea views are mostly uninterrupted, and there are frequent benches on which to sit and enjoy the view.
By a café in Lake (accommodation, supermarket, pubs, restaurants, shops) in 750 metres, it is possible to shorten the walk by turning right on footpath SS62, which leads in a few minutes to the station. A minor Coastal Path diversion may still be in operation 650 metres beyond: you are led onto a road where you turn left, then after just 60 metres turn left again to rejoin the clifftop path, now at the start of Shanklin (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets). Pass the seasonal lift (built 1891) in a further 1.2km and continue on the undulating path, soon passing the back gardens of some rather quaint-looking hotels in Keats Green, named after the poet, who frequently visited Shanklin. At the end of the green, descend past a metal barrier all the way to the shore, perhaps visiting Shanklin Chine halfway down – it’s worth paying the admission charge if only to experience the island’s oldest tourist attraction.
Shanklin Chine was opened to the public as early as 1817, and was as popular in the Victorian era as it is now. As well as its beautiful foliage, pretty trails and diverse bird- and animal-life – including resident chipmunks – the Chine boasts a 12m (40ft) waterfall and romantic summer-night illuminations. There is also a permanent exhibition about the wartime Pipe Line Under The Ocean (PLUTO), which ran from the Chine to Cherbourg transporting petrol for Allied troops. The idea came from Lord Mountbatten and was apparently very successful – the enemy never knew about it, and 56,000 gallons of petrol per day was transported this way during 1944.
Turn sharp right at the bottom of the slope to walk along the shore; pass the Fisherman’s Cottage, then after 150 metres go sharp right up the inconspicuous ‘Appley Steps’. At the top, although the Coastal Path continues straight ahead, detour through pretty Rylstone Gardens first. Continue with the sea to the right this time; then when the path ends, return through the gardens, pausing to admire the charming small hotel in its grounds and perhaps have a cuppa in the tea rooms.
Keep straight ahead at a junction and shortly continue on a footpath through woodland. Ignore ways off. After 1.3km, head up steps to enter The Landslip (so called because of the erosion and intermittent landslides that have affected the area since the last ice age), again ignoring ways off the main path and following Coastal Path signs.
After 550 metres, to shorten the walk, take V65c up the notorious ‘Devil’s Chimney’: a tough 10min climb up 225 steps, one section narrowly wedged between cliffs. At the road behind the Smugglers Haven turn right for bus stops.
Otherwise, the path continues to wind around The Landslip’s foliage. After 800 metres, turn right – initially up three steps. After 150 metres bear left and left again at the next junction, but not before detouring a short way to the right to see isolated St Boniface Church at Bonchurch (limited accommodation, pub, restaurant), nestled in its pretty churchyard.
Shortly after this junction there is a choice of paths; take either, as both eventually emerge on a sea wall at Wheelers Bay (if taking the upper path bear left at the end). Continue along it to reach the seafront at Ventnor (accommodation, supermarkets, pubs, cafés, restaurants, shops, toilets). For the main shopping street and bus stop, turn sharp right up the slope opposite the Hygeia mosaic at the start of the seafront proper, and continue up Pier Street to the T-junction. Take a peak into Alexandra Gardens on the way: Elgar honeymooned at number three.
The Cicerone guidebook to Walking on the Isle of Wight is written by Paul Curtis.