It wouldn’t be summer without a quick trip over to the Island for some cliff-top adventures. Couple these walks with great mainland sea-views, and you’ve got an abundance of summer strolls to embark on.

Great British Life: Observe The Needles from the viewpoint above Scratchell's BayObserve The Needles from the viewpoint above Scratchell's Bay

Tennyson Down and the Needles, Isle of Wight

From the attractive cove of Freshwater Bay, this walk takes you along the top of the chalk ridge of Tennyson Down, where the fresh air, declared Alfred Lord Tennyson, who lived nearby and walked here regularly, ‘is worth sixpence a pint’. There’s an excellent Needles viewpoint on the cliff-top near the end of the headland, next to the former rocket testing site. Nearby are the Needles 19th century military batteries, both in the care of the National Trust and open to visitors. Fine views of Alum Bay’s multi-coloured sand cliffs follow, with the option of walking down to the beach below before a return along the foot of the Downs.

The walk

1 (SZ346857) From the car park, turn right along the road a short distance, then left along the access road for Fort Redoubt. Pass a gate on your right and where the drive swings left, turn right uphill. Head up the grassy slopes of Tennyson Down. Ahead in the distance is Tennyson’s Monument.

2 (SZ324853) The monument, a Cornish granite cross, situated on the highest point of the down, was erected in Tennyson’s memory in 1897. The poet lived at nearby Farringford from 1853 until his death in 1892. Continue along the broad grassy ridge to a four-way junction, where there’s a half-size replica of a beacon.

3 (SZ318853) Carry on along the Coastal Path, heading gently up and along West High Down. Aim for the aerial in the distance. The roofs of the former Coastguard Cottages can be spotted ahead to the right. Pass the radio transmitters, then head downhill in a NW direction to a concrete road near the Needles NCI (National Coastwatch Institution) station. The rocket testing site is close by, and, too, the signed Needles viewpoint. Return to the Coastwatch station and from the nearby New Battery follow the path down to the Old Battery.

4 (SZ296848) Continue beside the road, then roadside path towards Alum Bay enjoying the fine views.

5 (SZ307852) Where the road bends left to enter the Needles Park, the main route turns right up the steps along the footpath for the return leg. If wished, continue through the Needles Park, heading for the chairlift that descends to the beach at Alum Bay. Steps from the chairlift also lead down to the beach. Return to the path junction and follow the footpath to the junction at point 3. From here bear left along the path signed for Freshwater. Maintain direction to reach a road, the thatched church of St Agnes on the left. Turn right back down to the start passing Dimbola Lodge, the former home of the Victorian pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. It is now a museum and gallery and has a tearoom.

Compass points

Start/finish: Freshwater Bay car park (SZ346857)

Map: OS Explorer OL29

Distance: 6½ miles (10.5km) or 7¼ miles (11.5km) including extension to Alum Bay beach.

Terrain: Downland and cliff-top tracks and paths; short stretches along pavements

Time: 3 - 3½ hours (allow extra time for visiting the Needles Batteries)

Public transport: Wightlink car ferries between Portsmouth & Fishbourne and Lymington & Yarmouth; passenger catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde, 0333 999 7333,

Great British Life: Freshwater Bay can bee seen from the cliff top near the start of the walkFreshwater Bay can bee seen from the cliff top near the start of the walk

Compton Bay and Downs, Isle of Wight

This walk combines a beautiful stretch of downland – with coastal views from the broad grassy ridge – with a stunning section of the Island’s coast path. Compton Bay is one of the Island’s best surfing and watersports locations and has a large sandy beach, rock pools and shallow waters that makes it ideal for families. Starting from Freshwater Bay, the first leg of the walk follows the Tennyson Trail eastwards over Afton, Compton and Brook Downs. The route then heads southwards via Dunsbury and a stretch of the Hamstead Trail to the coast at Brook Bay. Here the coastal path is followed via Compton Bay back to the start.

The walk

1 (SZ351856) From the top right-hand corner of the car park walk a short distance north to join the Tennyson Trail and turn right. Initially the gently ascending track runs across the golf course (watch out for balls!) Looking back there’s a fine view over Freshwater Bay with Tennyson Down and its monument beyond. There are also good views to be had looking north taking in Yarmouth and the Western Yar estuary, and across the Solent to the south coast of the mainland. Just past a bench on Brook Down fork left to take in the trig point and view atop the Five Barrows. Descend towards the B3399.

2 (SZ394850) At the junction before reaching the road, turn back sharp right along a track and after about 400m just before the track starts to descend bear left onto the grass by a byway sign.

3 (SZ387848) At the next junction turn left along the track/byway signed for Dunsbury. Follow the track, which soon becomes a bridleway, bending left and then right, down to an access road. Turn right to Dunsbury Farm, then left along the signed Hamstead Trail. At the next junction keep ahead across the field, alongside the following one and across another to the Military Road/A3055.

4 (SZ384836) Turn right along the Coastal Path and follow it all the way back to Freshwater Bay. At a memorial shortly before you reach the Bay fork right back to the car park.

Compass points

Start/finish: Car park (free) on N side of A3055 east of Freshwater Bay (SZ351856)

Map: OS Explorer OL29

Distance: 7 miles (11km)

Terrain: Downland tracks and paths, coastal path.

Time: 3½ hours

Public transport: As above

Great British Life: Walk the sea wall path alongside the Nature Reserve near LymingtonWalk the sea wall path alongside the Nature Reserve near Lymington

Lymington - Keyhaven Nature Reserve and Hurst Spit

One of the best sections of the Solent Way – and indeed the only one along the New Forest coastline - is a beautiful stretch between the mouth of the Lymington River and the village of Keyhaven. It takes in the Lymington - Keyhaven Marshes Nature Reserve and is very easy walking along the sea wall with birds to be seen throughout the year. From Keyhaven you can visit Hurst Castle (built by Henry VIII) and the lighthouse at the end of the shingle spit, either taking the ferry out and back, or walking one or both ways.

The walk

1 (SZ333951) From the slipway opposite the Lifeboat Station the walk goes along the sea wall following the Solent Way waymarks. On your right you pass the Lymington Sea Water Baths, the oldest in the UK. Continue along the gravel path beside marina berths to Lymington Yacht Haven boatyard. Keep ahead along the tarmac a short distance, then turn left along a signposted path between the boat hulls. Leaving the boats, continue along a narrow path.

2 (SZ334944) Turn left at the junction and continue along the sea wall path. On your right is the Normandy Marsh Nature Reserve, where salt was once produced. Continue along the seaward side of Eight Acre Pond, across a sluice and alongside the Keyhaven and Pennington Marshes Nature Reserve.

3 (SZ308916) On reaching a lane the main walk turns right. For Keyhaven turn left and left at the car park past the Yacht Club to the Hurst Castle ferry departure point. From the end of Hurst Spit there are great views of the Needles and the western end of the Isle of Wight. Fort Albert is directly opposite Hurst Castle, both guarding the narrow western entrance to the Solent.

4 (SZ321930) Just after the lane bends left, turn right along a footpath to another lane. Pass a right turn just before Oxey Barn and carry on to the next footpath on the right, opposite a rough layby. Go through a gap in the hedge and then bear left. Carry on along the footpath to the Salterns and continue on a private road to Five Acre Pond, passing the Salterns Sailing Club. Ignore a turning on the right and at the T-junction turn right along Normandy Lane, then turn right along a footpath named Pinckney Path. When you reach the road turn right along the pavement back to Lymington Yacht Haven, keeping ahead to retrace your initial steps.

Compass points

Start/finish: Bath Road car park, Lymington (SZ333951)

Map: OS Explorer OL22

Distance: 7½ miles (12 km). Keyhaven – Hurst Castle extension 2⅓ miles (3.7km)

Terrain: Very easy walking on the flat, much of it along the sea wall. Stretch of shingle out to Hurst Castle, ferry option between Keyhaven and Hurst Castle.

Time: 3 - 3½ hours (allow extra time if visiting Hurst Castle, by foot and/or ferry)

Great British Life: Walk along the footbridge across salt marsh and enjoy the views towards Newtown QuayWalk along the footbridge across salt marsh and enjoy the views towards Newtown Quay

Newtown Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight

Start: Newtown NT car park (SZ423906)

The only National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Wight, situated on the north-west coast. Comprising estuary and foreshore with extensive mudflats and salt marsh, along with the adjacent wildflower meadows and woodland, it is well worth a visit both for its unspoilt beauty and tranquillity, and the excellent bird watching.

Great British Life: See Langstone Mill on a walk from Emsworth to Hayling IslandSee Langstone Mill on a walk from Emsworth to Hayling Island

Emsworth and Hayling Island

Start: South Street car park, Emsworth (SU749056)

A lovely out-and-back shoreline walk between Emsworth and Langstone along the Solent Way, with an inland detour via Warblington Church (although at low tide you can keep to the shore). Option to continue along the Hayling Billy Coastal Path down the west side of Hayling Island.

Great British Life: Take in the view back along the cliffs towards Hill Head Take in the view back along the cliffs towards Hill Head


Start: Bridge Street car park by canal towpath, Titchfield (SU541054)

From Titchfield follow the path beside the canal and Titchfield Haven Nature Reserve to the coast, then head NW along it – fine views along the Solent coastline - and back inland.

Lepe Country Park

Start: Lepe Country Park car park (SZ455985)

Good for all the family, dogs welcome, too (except on the family beach, located in front of the beach car park, between April and September). Try the 5-mile Lepe Loop coastal and countryside route.

Culver Down and Bembridge, Isle of Wight

Start: Culver Down NT car park (SZ636856). Situated at the eastern end of the chalk ridge that forms the backbone of the Island, there are superb views from up here, the location of the Yarborough Monument, the tallest on the Isle of Wight. Follow the coast path anticlockwise round the eastern tip of the Island via Bembridge, returning past the windmill.

Great British Life: The view from Gore Cliff on the Niton and St Catherine's Point walkThe view from Gore Cliff on the Niton and St Catherine's Point walk

Niton and St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight

Start: Niton, considerate roadside parking, eg in front of church (SZ505767); alternatively large car park at Blackgang (SZ490767).

Walk round the most southerly point of the Isle of Wight taking in a stunning stretch of coastline and wonderful views. From the Blackgang car park ascend St Catherine’s Hill to St Catherine’s Oratory, known as the Pepperpot. Return to Niton, then head down to St Catherine’s Point, where the lighthouse is situated.

Yarmouth and Fort Victoria Country Park, Isle of Wight

Start: Ferry terminal, Yarmouth (SZ354898) or nearby car park (SZ354895).

At Yarmouth you can step straight off the ferry and start walking. Turn right to follow the Coast Path to Fort Victoria Country Park where there’s a signed circular route with superb views across the Solent.