This walk follows the sea front westwards out of Cowes to Gurnard Bay. Then along the coast path proper, down to Thorness Bay with excellent views of the Solent and across to Hampshire. From here the route takes you inland, across farmland to the small hamlet of Newtown then on to Shalfleet.
Leaving Cowes along the sea front, the walk passes Egypt Point, the most northerly point on the island. The Solent and Hampshire coast are in full view as the route continues westwards towards Gurnard and Thorness Bay. From here the path strikes inland to the small village of Porchfield then on to Newtown, with its wetland nature reserve. Passing the Old Town Hall the route continues on to finish at Shalfleet.
There are splendid views across the Solent to be had on the first part of this walk. The small hamlet of Newtown and the National Trust Old Town Hall belies its former importance and the surrounding wetlands are a magnet for bird watchers.
The coastal path is well signposted so look out for the prominent way markers and your route finding will be easier.
This section is a gentle walk with few hazards. However, some sections follow roads which can be busy at times, especially in peak season, so care is needed. Along the coastal section the cliffs are soft liable to erosion so take care in wet weather.
Tips and hints
Cowes is a small town with a full range of facilities. There are several hotels, pubs restaurants and cafes as well as local shops and a supermarket to stock up with supplies. There is a bank, cash point facility and a pharmacy. There is a café at Gurnard, a shop at the holiday village in Thorness Bay and a pub at Porchfield, all on the route, but opening times vary. Shalfleet has little in the way of provisions so you may wish to stock up for the following day as well.
Points of Interest
Cowes Maritime Museum
Cowes is regarded as the yachting capital of Britain. This small museum houses a collection of exhibits that incorporate all aspects of local maritime activity from ship building to sailing. The museum displays objects and images which tell the story of Cowes and its important maritime heritage.
Newtown Nature Reserve
This is the only National Nature Reserve on the island. It has estuary creeks that attract all manner of wetland wildlife and ancient woodlands, home to the red squirrel. There is also the 17 th century Old Town Hall, the only remaining evidence of Newtown’s former importance as a flourishing port.
The village of Shalfleet was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086 and three of the manor houses listed are still in existence. In 2009 metal detectorists discovered an Iron Age Hoard which proved the area was occupied by a Celtic tribe, the Durotriges during the later part of this period..
Sturdy boots or walking shoes are recommended as there are several road sections and the footpaths are rough and muddy in places. The weather is changeable on the coast so waterproofs should be carried just in case.
Basic Equipment for Hiking
- Sturdy, comfortable and waterproof hiking boots or approach shoes
- Layered, moisture wicking clothing
- Hiking socks
- Rucksack (with rain cover)
- Protection against sun, rain and wind (hat, sunscreen, water- and windproof jacket and suitable legwear)
- Hiking poles
- Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
- First aid kit
- Blister kit
- Bivy / survival bag
- Survival blanket
- Pocket knife
- Cell phone
- Navigation equipment / map and compass
- Emergency contact details
- The 'basic' and 'technical' equipment lists are generated based on the selected activity. They are not exhaustive and only serve as suggestions for what you should consider packing.
- For your safety, you should carefully read all instructions on how to properly use and maintain your equipment.
- Please ensure that the equipment you bring complies with local laws and does not include restricted items.