Plan a route here Copy route
Hiking trail

Yarmouth to Freshwater Bay

Hiking trail
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • Yarmouth Harbour.
    / Yarmouth Harbour.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Yarmouth Harbour.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Hurst Castle fort.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Colwell Bay and Fort Albert.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Beach huts Colwell Bay.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Victorian post box, Totland.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Solent from Headon Warren.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / The Needles.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Striped cliffs at Alum Bay.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / The Needles.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
  • / Frwshwater Bay from Tennyson Down.
    Photo: Macs Adventure
m 150 100 50 -50 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km

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.


Distance 14.9 km
3:45 h
281 m
283 m

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.


Author’s recommendation

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.


Highest point
150 m
Lowest point
3 m
Best time of year

Safety information

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

Alum Bay

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 Needles

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.


Tennyson Monument

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.



Ferry ticket office, Yarmouth (5 m)
OS Grid
SZ 35359 89748
50.706302, -1.500612
50°42'22.7"N 1°30'02.2"W
30U 605871 5618237


Lifeboat Station, Freshwater Bay

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 km – Standing with your back to the ferry ticket office, continue STRAIGHT ON to the Tourist Information Office, then TURN RIGHT along the main road, past the Harbour Office and over the bridge. 

0.70 km – At the bend in the road, TURN RIGHT along the path signposted to Fort Victoria, then TURN LEFT along the sea front and continue STRAIGHT ON ahead, with the sea on the right.

1.30 km – At the end of the seafront BEAR LEFT up into the woods, signposted to Victoria Country Park, then TURN RIGHT along the tarmac road. After 100 metres BEAR LEFT onto the gravel track and into the Country Park. Continue STRAIGHT ON along the prominent path.

2.80 km – Emerging from the Country Park at the entrance to a Holiday Village, TURN LEFT onto a small tarmac road with the first glimpse of the Needles to the right.

3.30 km – At the road junction TURN RIGHT, and continue STRAIGHT ON, through the Chalet Park and onto a narrow footpath leading onto a track.

3.70 km – At the track TURN LEFT, and continue STRAIGHT ON to the end.

4.10 km – At the junction with the main road TURN RIGHT , and then in 300 metres TURN RIGHT again into Madeira Lane. Follow the coastal path sign down to Colwell Bay.

4.80 km – Arriving at the seafront, TURN LEFT and continue STRAIGHT ON for nearly 2kms, past a row of coloured beach huts and on to Totland Bay. There are good views of the Needles ahead.

6.50 km – Just past Totland Lifeboat Station TURN LEFT up the wooden steps marked Widdick Chine. On reaching the top BEAR RIGHT, along the tarmac road.

6.80 km – At the top of a small rise TURN RIGHT , through a wooden gate onto a footpath signposted coastal path. Continue STRAIGHT ON over National Trust Headon Warren for approx 2kms. NB; keep to the prominent way marked path. There are splendid views back over the Solent and ahead to the Needles. NOTE: Public Footpath T16 (part) has been closed since January 2020 because of a landslip in the section between Cliff Road and its junction with T17.  There is a diversion route in place following  Cliff Road and Public Footpath T17. Make sure you follow sign posts for the diversion here. 

8.60 km – On leaving Headon Warren TURN LEFT, through the gate onto a tarmac road. Then almost immediately TURN RIGHT to Alum Bay and past the Needles Landmark Attraction.

9.00 km – At the entrance to the public car park continue STRAIGHT ON along the signposted path to the Needles Headland.

9.70 km – At the coastal path signpost, BEAR LEFT up the steps and over a stile, gradually climbing up the slope to reach the Coastguard Cottages and a gate. NB; from here you should take a slight diversion of to the Needles viewpoint for the best views of this feature.

9.90 km – At the gate TURN LEFT back up the slope in front of the cottages and follow the grassy path up to the ridge. Then continue STRAIGHT ON for approx 2.5 kms, ascending up to the Tennyson Memorial. NB; BEAR RIGHT at the wooden beacon to get to the memorial if visibility is poor. From here there are fabulous views in all directions.

12.5 km – At the Tennyson Memorial continue STRAIGHT ON , down the slope following the prominent grassy path.

14.0 km – At the wooden gates continue STRAIGHT ON, following the path with the fence to the right.

14.4 km- At the bottom of the slope TURN LEFT, through the gate and onto the gravel track, towards Freshwater Bay.

(If you are overnighting at Seahorses, TURN LEFT at the end of the track onto a tarmac road called Gate Lane. Take your first RIGHT onto Bay Road and CONTINUE all the way to the top of this road onto Easten Lane. At the top of Easton Lane, before it does a sharp left, you will see a sign on the right indicating a public footpath. Go through the gate and follow the path until you come to a large garden with a large house set back on the left. This Seahorses B&B, please come around to the front entrance of the house.)

(If you are overnighting at Buttercup House B&B, TURN LEFT at the end of the track onto Gate Lane. Continue along this road until the road forks and BEAR LEFT onto Bedbury Lane. Continue to follow this street all the way to the top of the road and TURN RIGHT onto Queens Road. As the road forks, TURN RIGHT onto Camp Road. Keep following this road until you reach your B&B on your right-hand side.)

(If you are overnighting at The Albion Hotel, TURN RIGHT at the end of the track onto Gate Lane.  Follow this road and you will find your hotel on your right-hand side.)

14.7 km – At the end of the track TURN RIGHT onto the tarmac road and continue STRAIGHT ON to the bay. BEAR LEFT along the small promenade by the shingle beach.

14.9 km – Arriving at Freshwater Bay Lifeboat Station you have reached the end of the walk.






all notes on protected areas


OS Grid
SZ 35359 89748
50.706302, -1.500612
50°42'22.7"N 1°30'02.2"W
30U 605871 5618237
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


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)
  • 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.

Similar routes nearby

 These suggestions were created automatically.

Questions and answers

Ask the first question

Would you like to the ask the author a question?


Write your first review

Help others by being the first to add a review.

Photos from others

14.9 km
3:45 h
281 m
283 m
Scenic Refreshment stops available Cultural/historical interest Geological highlights Linear route Botanical highlights


  • Content
  • Show images Hide images
2D 3D
Maps and trails
Duration : h
Distance  km
Ascent  m
Descent  m
Highest point  m
Lowest point  m
Push the arrows to change the view