The north east section of the coastal path: cliffs, Victorian promenades, and a quiet harbour.
Main Walk: (starting from Lake) 21 km (13 miles). Five hours 10 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, ferries, sights and meals, allow at least 12 hours.
Explorer OL29. Lake, map reference SZ590833, is on the Isle of Wight, 10 km SE of Newport.
5 out of 10.
This walk follows the Isle of Wight Coastal Path around the north-eastern corner of the island. The suggested starting point is Lake, the small station on the Island Line between Sandown and Shanklin which is conveniently close to the path, but you could also start from one of those stations. Between their busy Victorian promenades and Ryde the route varies from the cliffs of Culver Down to the quiet harbour at Bembridge and small seaside villages. There are good opportunities for swimming on this walk, eg. at Sandown Bay near the start.
This is not an original walk. There are plenty of walking guides to sections of the Coastal Path (eg. see Sandown-Ryde).
Starting the walk from Sandown, the station before Lake, saves about 750m but it involves more road walking and you would miss the cliff-top views of Sandown Bay as you set off.
At the end of the walk, you can save a similar distance by finishing the walk at Ryde Esplanade and taking the train out along the pier.
More generally, you could make use of the frequent Southern Vectis buses to cut out one or more stages of the walk.
The stations on the Island Line (Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin) are reached by Wightlink FastCat from Portsmouth Harbour, which is served by trains from Waterloo. A through ticket to any station on the line includes the ferry crossing. The complete outward journey takes about 2 hours 30 minutes. From Ryde Pier Head, the return journey is just over 2 hours; it gets longer in the late evening but this fairly long walk is still feasible as a day trip from London in the summer.
Take the train nearest to 09:00 from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour, then the catamaran to Ryde Pier Head and the Island Line to Lake (IoW).
|Train & Ferry Times||
The suggested lunch stop (5¼ km from Lake) is the Culver Haven Inn (01983-406107) on the top of Culver Down, which serves food until 2.30pm. There are panoramic views from the top of the cliffs and this is also a good place for a picnic. 3 km further on, the up-market Crab and Lobster Inn (01983-872244) has a fine coastal location overlooking Bembridge Ledge.
At Bembridge Pier there is a nice café, the Lifeboat View (01983-875568), although this is fairly soon after lunch (in fact, less than halfway through the full walk). There are several more seafront cafés in the second half of the walk, and many pubs and eateries in Ryde at the end.
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Out (not a train station)
Back (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
Click the heading below to show/hide the walk route.
Click on any section heading to switch between detailed directions and an outline, or the heading above to switch all sections.
- The Island Line to Sandown Bay (¾ or 1½ or 3½ km)
- Starting from Sandown Station (¾ km)
- Starting from Lake Station (1½ km)
- Starting from Shanklin Station (3½ km)
- Sandown Bay to Culver Down (3¾ km)
- Culver Down to Bembridge Pier (4 km)
- Bembridge Pier to The Duver (4¼ km)
- Shoreline route via Bembridge Point
- Inland detour to Bembridge Harbour
- The Duver to Seaview (3 km)
- Inland route on Coastal Path
- Shoreline route via Horestone Point
- Seaview to Ryde Pier Head (4½ km)
Make your way from any of the three stations at the end of the Island Line onto the Coastal Path and follow it northwards to Sandown Bay.
You can start the walk from any of the three stations at the end of the Island Line. The suggested starting station is Lake, because the others both involve additional road walking to reach the Coastal Path.
There are many routes from the station down to the sea. A straightforward route (which comes out 300m past the pier) is to head E along Station Avenue. In 250m this crosses the A3055 and in a further 400m comes to a T-junction with Albert Road. Turn right and follow this round to the left; go across High Street and turn left onto the Esplanade.
Go down the ramp from the platform and turn right. Just up ahead, take the signposted footpath on the left, which in 100m comes to the Coastal Path at the top of the cliffs. Turn left and follow it for 800m into Sandown.
At Ferncliff Gardens go down a flight of steps and turn right at the bottom to go down a steep path. Turn left onto the Esplanade and continue along it for 500m, passing the pier.
Take the left-hand of the two roads leading away from the railway station (Atherley Road), heading E. In 350m go straight across the A3055 into Hope Road. In 250m, before this curves down to the beach, turn left into Delphi Road and go uphill to the Coastal Path. Follow the undulating cliff-top path for 2¼ km into Sandown.
Continue along the Esplanade. At Yaverland, the Coastal Path leaves the sea front to ascend Culver Down. Aim for the prominent monument at the top of the Down.
Continue along the Esplanade for a further 1¼ km, heading NE. After passing the Zoo, go through the car park at Yaverland beach onto a footpath, signposted to Culver Down.
Follow the path uphill for 2 km, aiming for the large obelisk at the top of Bembridge Down. As you approach it, bear left to go diagonally up a field to reach the Yarborough Monument1. Go past it onto a lane to reach the Culver Haven Inn, the suggested lunchtime stop.
Go down a path behind the Culver Haven Inn and continue on a cliff-top path above Whitecliff Bay and Black Rock to Foreland Fields. You may be able to continue along the shoreline around Foreland to Bembridge Pier, but the official path turns inland here.
Make your way onto a path behind the pub which heads NE from the monument diagonally across a field. In the far corner of the field, continue down a steep chalky path which leads to a wooded area above Whitecliff Bay.
Follow the Coastal Path signs along the cliff top for 2½ km, ignoring paths leading steeply down to the beach. You pass holiday chalets and school playing fields before reaching Foreland Fields. After passing through a small car park, continue on the coastal path past two houses to come to the Crab and Lobster Inn (the alternative lunchtime stop).
The official Coastal Path now turns inland for 1 km (as described below), although the OS map shows a public footpath along the shoreline around Foreland. If you are tempted to follow this route, check the tide and consult local notices.
For the official route, go through the pub car park, turn right past the Coastguard Lookout and then left into Beachfield Road. In 250m, at the end of this road, turn right into Howgate Road and take the second turning on the left, Forelands Farm Lane.
In 75m turn right onto a footpath. At the end of the path, continue past a hotel and turn left onto Fishermans Walk, rejoining the shoreline route. This goes past Bembridge Pier2 (with the Lifeboat Station at the end) and then the Lifeboat View café, a possible early tea place.
Go along the sea wall and continue along the shoreline to Bembridge Point (or detour inland at high tide). Follow the B3395 around Bembridge Harbour. On the other side of the River Yar, turn right and go along a causeway to The Duver.
Continue along the sea wall or shoreline for 500m, where there is a footpath off to the left.
The official Coastal Path continues along the shoreline, but if it is high tide you will have to follow the detour described below.
If it is safe to do so, continue along the shoreline. You may be able to go all the way up to and around Bembridge Point, 1 km away, to reach the B3395. 250m before the Point, however, the official Coastal Path goes inland onto Ducie Avenue, then turns right into Pump Lane to come out on a bend of the B3395.
500m from the pier, turn left onto the footpath. In 250m turn right onto a path which in 150m leads into Love Lane. In 400m, where this road bends sharply left, continue ahead on a footpath which crosses Ducie Avenue and comes out on a bend of the B3395.
Turn right onto the B3395 (Embankment Road3). Unless an enterprising person is offering ferry trips across the mouth of the River Yar to The Duver, you will have to follow this road for 1½ km as it sweeps around Bembridge Harbour and its boatyards.
If you want to finish the walk here, buses to Ryde go along this road.
Just after crossing the bridge over the River Yar, turn sharp right into Latimer Road. Where this road turns left in 150m, turn right and follow a minor road round to the converted St Helens Mill. Go past this onto a footpath along a causeway4.
For the next 2 km the official Coastal Path goes inland, but except at high tide it is possible to stay close to the shoreline if you are prepared to scramble over large rocks at Horestone Point. After the two routes meet in Seagrove Bay, continue along Pier Road to Seaview.
For the next 2 km the official Coastal Path goes inland, but except at high tide it is possible to stay close to the shoreline if you are prepared to scramble over large rocks at Horestone Point.
Stay on the lane as it passes to the left of Old Church Lodge. Cross a stile onto a footpath with a hedge on your right. In 300m, bear right across some scrub and a field to reach a driveway. Turn right onto it and head N towards the Priory Bay Hotel7.
In 250m, having ignored a turning on the right to a holiday centre, bear left onto a tree-lined bridleway in front of the hotel grounds. In 300m this ends at a track, where you turn right. In 400m the track bends left and leads into Fernclose Road. Follow this road down towards Seagrove Bay, where it bends right and meets the Esplanade. Turn left here onto a public footpath.
Bear right off the lane to pass the Old Church. Continue along the shoreline for a short distance, then take a path on the left which runs along the edge of a wood, close to the shore.
In 500m, the path bends left at Node's Point and continues to wind through the wood for another 500m, now with Priory Bay (a private beach) below on your right. Eventually the path drops down to a public beach and you turn left towards Horestone Point.
At Horestone Point you have to scramble over large rocks to get to the Esplanade on Seagrove Bay. Follow this road for 200m, where it bends left and meets Fernclose Road. Turn right here onto a public footpath.
The footpath soon leads into Pier Road and you follow this for 750m into Seaview. At a T-junction with the High Street, turn right and follow it round to the left, where you go onto the sea wall.
Continue along the sea wall and coast roads to Ryde. You can walk out to the ferry terminal or take the train along the pier.
For the final section, simply continue along the sea wall and coast roads where necessary. After going around Puckpool Point you pass Appley Tower8 and continue into Ryde. At Ryde Pavilion move inland onto the Esplanade and continue up to the bus station in front of Ryde Pier.
You can save 750m by finishing the walk here, taking the train from Ryde Esplanade station for the short journey out along the pier.
If not catching the train, simply make your way onto the passenger walkway leading to the ferry terminal at the end of the pier.
- The Yarborough Monument was erected by the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1849 to commemorate their first Commodore.
- Bembridge Pier was built by the RNLI in 1922 so that the boathouse could be repositioned from the shore, enabling the lifeboat to be launched over the rocky ledges at any tide.
- As its name suggests, Embankment Road around Bembridge Harbour is a causeway, constructed in 1878 to link the villages of Bembridge and St Helens. The original port on the River Yar was at Brading, 4 km inland.
- This causeway was the old Mill Dam Wall, separating the mill ponds from the harbour.
- The sandy common called The Duver was the site of the Isle of Wight's first golf course. It is now maintained by the National Trust.
- St Helen's Old Church dates from 1080 but had been abandoned as unsafe before it was destroyed by a great wave in 1720. The seaward side of the tower is painted as a seamark: reputedly Nelson's last view of England before sailing for Cadiz and the Battle of Trafalgar. The sandstone blocks from the ruined church may have been the original ‘holystones’ used by seamen for scrubbing the decks.
- The Priory Bay Hotel is on the site of a Cluniac priory, established by Benedictine monks soon after the Norman Conquest.
- Appley Tower is a typical Victorian landmark, built at the end of the 19thC.
» Last updated: November 27, 2019