Winter walks on the Isle of Wight

Penned on the 12th January 2024

Winter walks on the Isle of Wight

There is something quite magical about walking on the Island, particularly in the peace and tranquillity of the quieter seasons. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite winter walks on the Isle of Wight, from energising hikes to peaceful strolls you can enjoy with the dog by your side.

With over 70 miles of coast path and a stunning collection of inland woodlands and heathlands, the Isle of Wight is a nature lover's delight, and perfect for discovering on foot via well maintained footpaths, which are usually numbered to help with navigation. There is something quite magical about walking on the Island, particularly in the peace and tranquillity of the quieter seasons. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite winter walks on the Isle of Wight, from energising hikes to peaceful strolls you can enjoy with the dog by your side


Newton Town Nature Reserve, 2-3 miles

Looking down a wooden walkway at Newton Town Nature Reserve on the Isle of Wight

Newton Nature Reserve is just 4 miles from Yarmouth and boasts ancient woodland, a historic quay, and miles of scenic footpaths through meadows and marshland. Managed by the National Trust, head for the car park through the pretty village where you will find an information centre with leaflets and maps to help you explore. If the centre is closed, don’t worry as there is plenty of signage to help you navigate. Our favourite route is to follow the path towards the salt lagoons through woodlands and meadows. En route you can pop into the bird hides overlooking the surrounding marshes for a view of the resident birds. From here a boardwalk crosses the salt-pan feeder ponds to the old quay with views over the reserve towards Yarmouth and the sea. It’s a magical place, whether you fancy a short stroll or want to spend the day exploring, you will be very glad you did!


Brading Marshes, 6 miles

A tree in winter on Brading Marshes on the Isle of Wight

This is a trail you can hike many times and never tire of the views, whatever time of year you visit. The route is relatively flat, starting at Bembridge Windmill on the easterly edge of the Island. The windmill, which is the last remaining one on the island, is managed by the National Trust and although it is closed during winter months, it is still quite an impressive sight to see. Take the footpath to the right of the windmill and follow the well marked way through fields towards the marshes. 

There are several stiles to climb and dogs will need to be on a lead as there is often livestock in the surrounding fields. The path winds its way right, through the Brading Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve to Centurian’s Copse, home to a red squirrel population and a hauntingly beautiful ancient woodland. Head towards St Helens on the old railway footpath and then the road into the village centre. From here the road leads along Embankment Road back into Bembridge where you can marvel at the variety of houseboats along the harbourside. After approximately 2 to 3 hours of walking, you will be back in the village so call in at The Bakery for a delicious slab of  cake and freshly made coffee, the perfect end to a fabulous walk. 


Tennyson Monument (3 miles return) and The Needles (8 miles return)

The famous chalk stacks at the Needles on the Isle of Wight

Not for the faint hearted, this walk starts from Freshwater Bay, where there is a pay and display car park behind the beach. The well marked footpath climbs steeply up to Tennyson Downs, a long chalk ridge with sheer cliffs on the south side (dogs on a lead here, please, at all times). The views are well worth the effort on a clear winter’s day, with panoramic vistas of the bay to the east and Hurst Castle and Studland Bay over the Solent to the west. The monument is a stunning Celtic marble cross memorial to Alfred Lord Tennyson that dates back to 1897. Here you can simply sit and enjoy the fabulous views or head further along the ridge towards the Needles and Needles Battery along a relatively flat and open downsland path. Anyone visiting the Island should visit the iconic Needles (especially if you’ve got the family in tow), but The National Trust Needles Battery, built in the 1800s to protect the area from a French invasion, is also fascinating and well worth a look if you are in the area.

If you do the full walk to here from Freshwater it will take most of the day so be prepared with hot drinks, snacks, waterproofs and warm clothing and, should a warming hot chocolate be required on your return, head to The Piano Café just up the road in Freshwater for eclectic surroundings and fabulous homemade cakes. 


St Helens Duver, 1-2 miles

The sand and shingle beach at St Helens on the Isle of Wight

The word Duver is unique to the Isle of Wight and is a dialect term for a low-lying piece of land on the coast, which may occasionally be inundated by the sea. St Helens Duver is an expanse of land that was once a Victorian golf course, and is now a designated National Trust public area found in between Bembridge Harbour and St Helens beach. 

Walkers can either wander along the causeway from the Bembridge side or set off from St Helens and pick up the footpath leading from the village. The large expanse of grassed area is an ideal place for dog walkers and family games and the Baywatch on the Beach café provides welcome ice creams and afternoon teas. The beach here is sand and shingle so a walk and a swim could be on the cards, and even your dog can join you!


Quarr Abbey

The red-bricked exterior of Quarr Abbey on the Isle of Wight

Head to the north of the Island just outside Wotton Bridge to find Quarr Abbey, home to a Benedictine Monastery set in 200 acres of beautiful woodland, pastures, coastline and formal gardens. There’s a large free car park (donations are welcome) and from here you can set off along a myriad of paths and trails, through woods (home to elusive red squirrels), meadows and past old abbey ruins. There’s a hide viewing area and Quarr Explorers Kits are available so the whole family can get involved along the nature trails. When energy levels drop, head for the Tea Shop - an excellent refuelling stop!


For other tips and ideas, take a look at our Isle of Wight Walking Festival guide, a brilliant way to discover more of the island during the annual walking extravaganza.  


We have a fabulous collection of self-catering cottages across the Isle of Wight, perfect for walking holidays whatever the time of year. Take a look at our collection and start planning your next Island getaway.  


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