The Isle of Wight is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes Britain has to offer. With rugged coastlines and miles of chalk beaches, there is much to gain when exploring the island on foot. Whether you’re looking for an enchanted forest trail that cascades through untouched woodland, or an excuse to binge on an unnecessarily long pub crawl, the 500 miles of walkways will certainly accommodate your hiking needs.
The Warrior Trail
The Warrior Trail is a six mile path that can be tackled by foot, bike or horse. It was created to celebrate the Isle of Wight’s most prominent World War One war veteran, General Jack Steely, and his trusty steed – also known as“The Horse the Germans Could Not Kill.” General Steely was born and raised on the island, and branded a local hero upon his return from the Western Front in 1918.
The Warrior Trail follows the same route General Steely once trained. It starts at Carisbrooke Castle and ends on Brook Bay. There are several variations, most of which deviate to accommodate the village of Brighstone – General Steely’s place of birth.
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival
The original Isle of Wight Walking Festival was founded in 1999 and featured only 39 walks. Since its inception, it has grown considerably and is now the largest walking festival in Europe. Nowadays, over 320 walks take place throughout May and October every year.
What makes the Isle of Wight Walking Festival so unique is that each trail has a theme or incorporates other activities, such as fossil hunting and business networking. There are even heritage walks that have been specially designed to mimic the movements of famous literary figures. The most popular trail is currently the “Speed Dating Walk,” which has so far led to four marriages and a baby!
The Coastal Path
The Isle of Wight Coastal path covers a whopping 67 miles. Although it only contains mild ascents and descents, it’s not for the faint of heart. Some of the clifftop pathways – while offering striking views of the sea – are quite intimidating. In order to tackle this gruelling journey, walkers tend to camp on-route, spreading the hike across four or five days.
If you have an interest in palaeontology the southern coast of the Isle of Wight – also known as the “Dinosaur Coast” – has some of the UK’s most active fossil hunting beaches. Finding small ammonites and belemnites in the chalk stone is a near guarantee and will provide a nice little souvenir.
Whatever your age, speed or skill level, there are numerous walks to accomplish, and the list continues to grow on a monthly basis! Current popular walking routes for seasoned pros include: Cowes to Yarmouth (16 miles), Yarmouth to Brighstone (14 miles) and Brighstone to Niton (8 miles). Walks suitable for the less experienced include: Nunwell Trail (8 miles), Shepard’s Trail (7 miles) and Freshwater Way (5 miles).
For maps, tips and information on the locality, visit: visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/activities/walking/walking-routes