Leaving Yarmouth, the route crosses the harbour and through the Victoria Country Park. From here the coastal path follows Colwell and Totland Bays and then goes up and over Headon Warren towards the Needles. From this iconic landmark, the path turns eastwards over Tennyson Downs, arriving in Freshwater Bay.
From the pretty harbour at Yarmouth the coastal path crosses the Yar Estuary and through the woodlands of the Victoria Country Park. It then follows the shoreline around Colwell and Totland Bays before crossing the National Trust heathland of Headon Warren. Arriving at Alum Bay with its famous coloured cliffs, the coastal path continues on to the Needles one of the most iconic landmark views in Britain. The route now turns eastwards over Tennyson Downs summiting at the stone memorial, before descending to the coast at Freshwater Bay.
On this section you are treated to stunning views at almost every turn. From Headon Warren the Hampshire Coast with Hurst Castle Spit looks almost close enough to touch, with Yarmouth and the Solent over your shoulder. Arriving at the Needles, take the short detour to the battery viewpoint for the best panorama of the sea stacks and lighthouse. From Tennyson Downs you have views of both sides of the island stretching into the distance. On a clear day you should be able make out Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower in the distance.
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 fairly gentle walk with few hazards. However, some short sections follow roads which can be busy at times, especially in peak season, so care is needed. Along the coastal path, by the Needles and Tennyson Downs, the cliffs are high so take care not to go too near the edge.
Tips and hints
Yarmouth is a small ferry town with a full range of facilities. There are several hotels, pubs and cafes as well as local shops and a supermarket, to stock up with supplies. There is also a Post Office, cash point facility and a pharmacy. There are several opportunities for refreshments on the route at Colwell Bay, Totland Bay and Alum Bay, though seasonal opening times may vary.
Points of Interest
The cliffs here are famous for the vertical sandstone strata in 12 different colours which are especially spectacular after rain. Souvenirs of the sand became popular in Victorian times and you can get samples from the shop at the bottom of the cliff. The beach below can be accessed by the chair lift. On the cliff top is a memorial to Marconi who made his first experiments with wireless transmission here.
The three white chalk sea stacks and the lighthouse are the most famous landmark on the Isle of Wight. They mark the western extension of the chalk ridge that extends across the island like a backbone. The Old Battery is a 19 th century fort and cold war rocket test site.
This area is named after Alfred Lord Tennyson, who walked these downs regularly when he lived at nearby Farringford House. On the crest of the down is a stone memorial (147 metres above sea level) to commemorate him.
Sturdy boots or walking shoes are recommended as the terrain is can be rough and muddy in places. The weather is changeable at the coast so waterproofs should be carried especially as the Needles and Tennyson Downs 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)
- 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.