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Hiking trail

Freshwater Bay to Chale

Hiking trail
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  • Freshwater Bay.
    / Freshwater Bay.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Memorial obelisk and Tennyson Down Cliffs.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Hanover Point from Freshwater Cliff.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Landslip near Hanover Point.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / St Andrew’s Church, Chale.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Whale Chine.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
m 80 60 40 20 -20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
Leaving Freshwater Bay the route climbs over Freshwater Cliff and follows the coastline south eastwards towards St. Catherine’s Point. The coastal path is almost straight, passing Compton and Brightstone Bays to finish in the small village of Chale.
Distance 18.4 km
4:45 h
268 m
188 m

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.

Author’s recommendation

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.


Highest point
86 m
Lowest point
4 m
Best time of year

Safety information

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. 


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.






Freshwater Bay Lifeboat Station. (4 m)
OS Grid
SZ 34736 85751
50.670402, -1.509820
50°40'13.4"N 1°30'35.4"W
30U 605302 5614232


St Andrew’s Church, Chale.

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Standing with you back to the Lifeboat Station and facing the car park, TURN RIGHT up the tarmac road. After 50 metres TURN RIGHT, onto the signposted coastal path to reach the cliff, then BEAR LEFT. Continue STRAIGHT ON along Freshwater cliffs to reach a stone obelisk.

0.60 km – At the obelisk, continue STRAIGHT ON over Freshwater Cliffs, with the sea to the right and the road on the left for approx 1.5 kms.

2.00 km – At the coastal path sign TURN RIGHT over the wooden stile and down the steps. Continue STRAIGHT ON along the cliff line and over a footbridge, then BEAR LEFT up to the road.

2.50 km – At the entrance to Compton Chine TURN RIGHT. DO not go onto the road. Continue STRAIGHT ON through the gate for approx 1.5 kms to Hanover Point.

4.00 km – At Hanover Point car park BEAR RIGHT onto the footpath along the cliff for another kilometre.

5.00 km – At Brook Bay car park BEAR RIGHT, past the row of houses and continue STRAIGHT ON, along the coast and over Sudmoor for approx 3 kms.

8.20 km – At Chilton Chine car park TURN RIGHT onto the road. After 200 metres TURN RIGHT onto the coastal path and continue STRAIGHT ON along the cliffs and through the holiday village.  

** Please note that if you are staying in Brighstone this is a good place to turn off to walk to your accommodation. (Leave the coast path at the holiday village and walk up the road)

NOTE: As of September 2021, the section of the coastal path through the holiday village is closed. Current diverted access from the west is via the verge on the Military Road to re-join a link path on the eastern side of Brighstone Holiday Centre to then reconnect to the coastal path and Grange Chine.  Please keep to the signposted diverted route.

9.50 km – At the tarmac track leading down to the beach, TURN RIGHT , cross the footbridge and ascend the wooden steps back up to the cliff top. Continue STRAIGHT ON for approx 2 kms, over Barnes High and on to Cowleaze Chine.

12.8 km – At the gravel road, BEAR RIGHT across the field, over the wooden footbridge and back to the coast. TURN LEFT and continue STRAIGHT ON eventually descending into Shepherds Chine.

13.3 km – At the bottom of Shepherds Chine TURN LEFT and follow the path inland to cross the stream. Then BEAR RIGHT up the slope, way marked coastal path. Continue STRAIGHT ON past the coastguard cottages for approx 3 kms to Whale Chine.

16.4 km – At Whale Chine car park TURN RIGHT along the main road for 300 metres, then TURN RIGHT onto the coastal path , signposted to Chale.

17.6 km – At the head of Walpen Chine, BEAR LEFT inland towards the church tower. Do not cross the footbridge on the right,

18.2 km – Cross the stile onto the main road and TURN RIGHT . Continue STRAIGHT ON into Chale.

18.4 km – Arriving at the gate to St.Andrew’s Church, you have reached the end of your walk.









all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
SZ 34736 85751
50.670402, -1.509820
50°40'13.4"N 1°30'35.4"W
30U 605302 5614232
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Comfortable boots or walking shoes are recommended. The terrain is not particularly rough but it may be muddy in places, especially after rain. Walking poles may be an advantage on the descent into the chines, if preferred. The weather is changeable at the coast so waterproofs should be carried, especially as the cliff top sections are fairly exposed.


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)
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking poles
  • Ample supply of drinking water and snacks
  • First aid kit
  • Blister kit
  • Bivy / survival bag  
  • Survival blanket
  • Headlamp
  • Pocket knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell phone
  • Cash
  • Navigation equipment / map and compass
  • Emergency contact details
  • ID
  • 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.

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18.4 km
4:45 h
268 m
188 m
Scenic Geological highlights Linear route


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