From Freshwater Bay the path climbs the chalk cliffs south eastwards towards Compton and Brightstone Bays. Although the coastal path is fairly straight, the coast is indented by a number of steep sided valleys or chines as they are locally known. As a result the route may deviate a short distance nearer the road in order to navigate around them. The most dramatic being Whale Chine.
Eventually the path heads inland to finish in the small village of Chale.
The route is a proper coastal path, following the cliff line all the way to Chale. There are good views south eastwards to St.Catherine’s Point and back to Tennyson Down and the Needles. The change in geology is very marked on this coast with the transition from chalk to softer sandstones and clay. The result is some spectacular coastal erosion and land slips.
The coastal path is well signposted so look out for the prominent way markers and your route finding will be easier.
This section of the coastal path follows long stretches of cliff line which are liable to erosion, so care is needed. The cliffs are high in places so take care not to go too near the edge. Follow the coastal path signs as the route may be diverted for safety reasons if erosion has been active.
PLEASE NOTE: The Isle of Wight is subject to numerous path diversions year on year due to coastal erosion and path maintenance. A list of the current closures is found here: https://www.iow.gov.uk/Residents/Rights-of-Way/Public-Rights-of-Way/Current-Closures. We appreciate it may be frustrating to walk off the coastal path and go inland but please ensure you always follow any diversions on the path and do not attempt to walk on a closed path as it may be dangerous!
Tips and hints
Freshwater Bay is a small village with few facilities. There are a couple of hotels, a pub and cafes as well as local shop. There are no opportunities for refreshments on the route so be sure to carry what you need.
Points of Interest
These are steep sided coastal valleys, cut through fairly soft rock, where a river flows to the sea. They are common on the south coast of the Isle of Wight where there are 20 of these features. The walls of the chines are unstable and erode continually sometimes yielding fossils.
St Catherine’s Oratory
This tall medieval octagonal tower is all that survives of an oratory built here in 1328, as penance by a local landowner. He had plundered wine from a local shipwreck which turned out to be church property. Known locally as the Pepperpot, it seems to have been used as a lighthouse as it stands on one of the highest points of the island.