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Walking and exploring on the Isle of Wight #1- A cross-solent view, a castle, and Lord Tennyson
The View from Mountjoy Cemetery Towards Blackwater
"Next to sailing, walking is one of my favourite past times and I find it one of the best ways to relax and unwind after a busy period travelling. The Isle of Wight is a fantastic place for walking too, as it offers so much variety - I would recommend it to you!"
Dame Ellen McArthur
The Isle of Wight is a beautiful place to be, whatever the time of year. The island enjoys some exceptional weather, and has a wide array of varying terrain and breathtaking scenery to take in and explore. Known for its wildlife, the Isle of Wight is home to many rare types of birds, and is one of the only places in the UK where you can see a red squirrel.
On this page, I shall give detailed accounts and routes of walks that will give you the chance to take in the all the island has to offer, as well as tips and suggestions to make your exploring more enjoyable. Most of these routes will not feature in guide books, and some are barely even known to island residents.
What You Will Need
As these walks may take you far enough away from civilization (brilliant eh!?), I would highly recommend carrying the following items when attempting them-
- A copy of the Isle of Wight Ordnance Survey Explorer map
- A compass
- Plenty of water
- Food to snack on (not all walks include possible pub stops!)
- Waterproof clothing
- A mobile phone for emergencies
- First aid kit
- A headtorch if it is nighttime
- A CAMERA! This is beautiful stuff!
MODERATE HILLY WALK- A cross-solent view, a castle, and Lord Tennyson
- This walk starts and finishes in the islands' county town of Newport
- DISTANCE- Approx. 7 miles - 3 hours
- TERRAIN- Hilly. One steep climb. Some moderate mud in wet months, potentially slippery chalk
- CLIMATE- Exposed in places
- NOTEWORTHY FEATURES- A spectacular view of Newport, its surrounding areas, and beyond - Carisbrooke castle - The Tennyson trail
- POSSIBLY AVOID IF- It's extremely windy
If you're driving, the car park off Chapel street is a good place to leave your car for this loop
Map of route with interesting features
Getting Out of the Town...
Exiting the car park onto Chapel st., turn right. Turn left onto New st. and then right onto Trafalgar rd. Take the next left into East View and when you reach the corner, look towards the left hand side of the school, and proceed through the railings and up the Nine Acres Lane footpath. At the top, walk right along Elm Grove and follow the road to your left, passing the gate and walking up the hill. Turn left at the top and look to your right after 20m or so. You will see a footpath sign pointing up a gravel lane. Walk up the lane, bending to the right. You will see a gate ahead of you, take the footpath to your left and proceed up through the trees.
At the top of the hill the view will open up around you...
A surrounding view
The view from the top of Mount Joy (don't worry, it's not a mountain!) is fantastic. Sprawling beneath you is Newport and Carisbrooke. To the West, the high ground and ridge are the Tennyson trail, where you will be in an hour or two. Moving North, you can see out towards Newtown Creek. There is a glimpse of the Solent, before you overlook Parkhurst forest. Moving round you can see a fair way up the River Medina and then the Spinaker Tower in nearby Portsmouth. Looking East, you can see the steep, chalky sides of the now disused Shide quarry.
Look in the fields around you. There are usually horses, and occasionally sheep in the fields to the North. In the South fields you will often see impressive and friendly Highland cattle.
When you are ready, continue along the path. Bearing left, follow the cemetery wall, or feel free to explore the cemetery. There is an exit approximately 3/4 of the way along the cemetery's South wall.
Past the Castle
If you follow the wall around the cemetery, you will come to a path leading off and down to your left. This is not part of the route, but there are often reindeer in the fields way off to the left of the path. You can normally see them if you walk a little way down.
Following the wall further, you come to some steps. Descend the steps. At the bottom, you need to take the path on the opposite side of the road, a very short way to your left. Drop down only a few metres and go left up the slight hill. Ahead of you is the outer wall to Carisbrooke castle, and to your right is a pen, where the castle donkeys are kept.
Head left and follow the castle around its South side.
Carisbrooke castle to Whitcombe cross
When you have passed the castles South side, before the way swings to the right, take the steep, chalky path that sweeps back and down to your left. Take care here, the chalk can be very slippery when wet. Following the path round to the right you will pass through a narrow tree lined tunnel. Emerging from the end of the tunnel, walk ahead and up to the left of the hedges, where you will come to a gap in the field boundary and out onto Froglands lane.
Walk left up Froglands lane, and when you reach the main road (Whitcombe cross), look right, and between the two roads is a bridlepath (N108).
Proceed along N108, known as Dark lane. If it's raining, expect shelter here. If it's a hot day, expect a cooler clime within the confines of the lane. Dark lane has an almost fantastic feel to it. You can see the way the torrents of water have shaped it over the centuries, with its exposed tree roots and steep banks.
Look among the banks of the lane and you may see movement. Large families of mice and voles live amongst the roots and vines.
Note- Dark lane is great fun to ride down on a mountain bike! In fact, with minor adjustments, this is a great mountain biking loop also!
Emerging from the lane, follow the path around the left edge of the field and through the slight dip. Continue along the narrow path, and through the gate at the end.There are very often lambs in all of these fields, at the right times of year. March to June are the best months.
Looking left you will see a cracking view open up....
Stunning View Across the Countryside
Upper Gatcombe to Garstons
In the centre of the picture above, you can see the looming tower of Whitecroft, a former asylum, turned apartment complex. Above and to the left is the blackwater quarry and aggregate plant. To the right of the tower you can see the large solar farm towards Merstone.
Continue along the top of the field. There are some interesting small caves in the natural wall to the right.
Proceed through the gate in the right hand corner of the field and after another 40-50m, turn right along the rutted path. When you reach the track, continue ahead until you come to a sign saying GARSTONS
Garstons to Bowcombe
Off to the left of the Garstons sign is Garstons' pit. The track running up round to the right of the pit (the narrower, inside one) is a real challenge of fitness and skill on a mountain bike. Try to keep your front wheel on the ground and keep moving!
Anyway, back to feet..... Turn right, along the top of the field, and then left, down the rutted track on the right hand side. You now have a straight walk of about 3/4 of a mile down to Bowcombe rd.
As you make your way down the fields, look right, you should see the West side of Carisbrooke castle in the distance.
If you're doing this at night time, keep your eyes peeled for owls. Otherwise, listen out for buzzards and kestrels.
Bowcombe to the Tennyson Trail
After the fields you will come to a farm. Bear right through the farm and continue along the road until you rise up onto the main Bowcombe road. Walk right, taking care along the verge, until you can cross to the pavement on the opposite side. Continue in the same direction, ignoring the first left, marked 'Tennyson trail', that is for another day!
Continue along the road for 200m or so, the road rises up, and you will see a large farm entrance to your left, and a bridlepath sign. Walk up the track and through the gate. You may well see the misspelled sign from the picture above.
Take this 'bridal path' and proceed up the tree lined climb. After a little over a quarter of a mile of climbing, you will come to the Tennyson trail and the junction bearing the Whitelane signpost, pictured below.
The Tennyson Trail to Carisbrooke
Turn right, through the gate, along the Tennyson Trail towards Carisbrooke.
The trail runs for 10 miles, from Carisbrooke, all the way to the Needles at the islands West point, and is named after Alfred Lord Tennyson, the 19th century poet laureate.
I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair
Alfred lord Tennyson
This View Alone is Worth the Effort
Continuing along the trail, you will eventually come to a field. This field offers more cracking views of Carisbrooke and Chillerton downs.
Continue along the edge of the field and you will find yourself dropping down a chalky, tree-lined path. At the bottom, continue on down the hill, and you will come to the Middle road, the main Newport to Freshwater rd that runs parallel with the Tennyson Trail.
Continue down the hill to the crossroads at the top of the picturesque village of Carisbrooke.
Back to the Start
Turn left at the crossroads. Cross the road opposite Dave Death Motorcycles and proceed down Priory Farm Lane. At the end, you will come to a pond on your left (pictured above). Your route is down the lane straight ahead. You may wish to look at the churchyard, along the path to the right, before continuing.
After walking for about 200m, the path ahead will turn left. Before this is a path to your right. Take this path and follow its twists and turns until you emerge onto Wellington rd. Turn right and then immediately left, across the zebra crossing, and onwards down the path on the other side. Follow this path until you come out onto Recreation Ground rd. Turn right. Turn left at the end of the road and walk for bit over a quarter of a mile along Carisbrooke rd, until you come to a junction. You need to take the road to your right, West street. Walking down West st., take the first left onto Cross st. At the end, turn right a very short way along New st before crossing the road onto Chapel street.
You have reached your start point!
I sincerely hope you have enjoyed your walk.
More walks will follow....
Next: Some items that might save the day!
- Hiking and Camping: A Few Inexpensive Items That Could Save the Day
Here are a few inexpensive items that you may not have, that might just save you a lot of hassle when out camping and hiking
...Or: More about Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Tennyson's Isle of Wight Home
Tennyson lived and worked on the Isle of Wight at Farringford House near Freshwater Bay where it is possible to stay in one of the cottages on the estate.