If you're looking for walking holiday destination with downland walks boasting views over rolling countryside, coastal rambles along wild primeval beaches, wetland estuaries full of wildfowl and woodlands bursting lush greenery and wildlife, then look no further than the Isle of Wight.
With over half of the Island designated AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and 500 miles of well-maintained and signposted footpaths, the Isle of Wight hosts two Walking Festivals each year, with specially designed walks to help you become acquainted with this 23 mile by 13 mile diamond-shaped gem only two hours away from London.
With so many different walks and trails to explore whilst visiting the Isle of Wight, here’s a shortlist of five of the best.
The Coastal Path
This is a great way to see the Isle of Wight and it covers a total of 67 miles, most of them along the cliff tops or clinging to the coast, although in places it has to detour inland – especially over the north-east coast to avoid the multi-tributaried Newtown Creek. The whole coastal path can be walked in around 24 hours or you could split it into around six manageable daily walks of between eight and 14 miles. And if you have kids and/or are intrigued by the Island's Jurassic past, then there's a new 'Dino Trail' along the southern coats that is well worth a visit. Special 'rocks' have been sited along the coastline from Yaverland to the Needles that have QR codes within them for you to download an app to your smartphone. Once downloaded the app will provide information on the Island’s Jurassic heritage and will also insert a lifelike life-size dinosaur into photographs you take at each location. There's a different dinosaur at each of the seven rocks and they are representations of the real dinosaurs that have been found here and roamed this stretch of coastline between 200 and 145 million years ago.
The Ridge Walk
A chalk ridge runs through the centre of the Island from Culver in the east to the Needles in the west, cut only by river valleys. One of the best walks on the Island is along the crest of this ridge and it is the route for the annual Walk the Wight to raise money for the local hospice. Starting point at Bembridge Airport and the walk runs to the tip of the downs in the west, just before the Needles rock formations.
The Stenbury Trail
Another stunning walk across the Isle of Wight is the Stenbury Trail from Ventnor to Newport, taking in Stenbury and Appuldurcombe Downs, with far reaching views to across the Island and then dipping down into Godshill, the edge of the Arreton valley and along the Medina river into Newport.
The Hamstead Trail
Perhaps you might like to cross the beautiful western side of the Island from the north to south coast, on the Hamstead Trail. You set off from the coast between Yarmouth and Newtown, passing salt marshes and over downland to finish at the jurassic Brook beach with its fossilised forest and dinosaur footprints.
Shepherds Trail is a superb walk from Carisbrooke Priory, up and down the chalk downland that at this point stretches further south than at other places, and finishing at Shepherd's Chine at Atherfield. A wild pebbled beach with rocky outcrops and a dangerous undertow, but superb for able swimmers.
There are plenty of amazing places to stay when visiting the Island and great pit stops to re-fuel whilst out walking too – to find out more checkout myisleofwight.com. And getting to the Isle of Wight couldn't be easier, with Red Funnel Ferries running up to 49 ferry crossings daily from Southampton to Cowes.