Situated at the east end of the Isle of Wight, Bembridge and Culver Downs mark the eastern end of the chalk ridge that forms the backbone of the Island, stretching from the Needles and Tennyson Down in the west. Adjoining the dramatic chalk cliffs of Culver Down is the aptly named Red Cliff, formed of soft red sandstone and clay. There’s a splendid view of the cliffs from the start of this walk, which begins at Yaverland, on the north-eastern edge of Sandown.

Yaverland Beach is one of the Isle of Wight’s best beaches, and forms part of the magnificent sands of Sandown Bay. At low tide, it stretches all the way to the foot of Culver Cliffs. There’s a large car park here, but it’s also easily reached by a regular daily bus service. For those visiting the Island without a car, Wightlink’s Portsmouth to Ryde high-speed catamaran takes just 22 minutes, so you can easily enjoy this walk as a day trip from the mainland.

Opposite the bus stop is the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary (housed inside the former Victorian Sandown Fort). Originally family owned, and known as a zoo, it was renamed and became a registered charity. It provides a sanctuary for rescued big cats and aims to promote the survival of endangered species. Worth a visit if you have time.

From Yaverland, the walk follows the Coast Path up onto Culver Down which affords fine views. On it stands the Yarborough Monument, the tallest on the Isle of Wight and a prominent feature on the skyline. It was initially sited atop Bembridge Down but had to be moved when Bembridge Fort was built in the 1860s. This was constructed on the orders of Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston, as part of a chain of defences to guard the Solent and Portsmouth against possible attack by Napoleon. They became known as Palmerston’s Follies since the French invasion didn’t happen and they weren’t used. Nearby Culver Battery was built in 1906, one of a number constructed to guard the Solent. It was used in both World Wars and closed in 1956.

This walk provides linear and circular options, the latter taking in the National Trust’s Bembridge Windmill, a famous landmark on the Island.

Great British Life: Enjoy views over Whitecliff Bay and Long Ledge from the Coastal PathEnjoy views over Whitecliff Bay and Long Ledge from the Coastal Path (Image: Fiona Barltrop)


1. (SZ611850) Head along the esplanade towards the cliffs and join the Coastal Path ascending Red Cliff, part of the National Trust’s Bembridge and Culver Downs land. The NT looks after many of the Island’s finest stretches of coastline and countryside. The path leads up to the chalk cliffs of Culver Down and then bears away left inland up to the Yarborough Monument. The large granite obelisk was built as a monument to the Earl of Yarborough who died in 1846. He inherited Appuldurcombe House, once the grandest house on the Isle of Wight, through marriage and was appointed the first Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron at Cowes.

2. (SZ633856) Head right along the lane to the end, where you’ll find the gun emplacements of the former Culver Battery. Bear left to the car park and head to the far-left corner to follow a footpath from there. Go through a kissing gate and bend right to descend on the Coastal Path. Pass a caravan park above Whitecliff Bay and continue along the now fairly level path.

Great British Life: Bembridge lifeboat stationBembridge lifeboat station (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

3. (SZ642865) At a second footpath turn on the left (signed Jenny Street Lane and Hillway Road, an information panel about Bembridge School nearby) you have the option of a circular route via Bembridge Windmill.

For the main linear route continue along the Coastal Path to the Crab & Lobster Inn, its garden overlooking sea. The Coastal Path (CP) is now waymarked inland, but a better option if the tide allows is to descend the steps to the seawall, walk along that to its end and continue along the beach to Bembridge’s offshore lifeboat station pier. Carry on along the seawall then edge of the beach to steps on the left where the CP is signed inland. (Low tide shoreline option may be possible.) At the intersection go right and follow the CP signs which will lead you to Bembridge Point/Harbour. The Bembridge Point bus stop is near the Palmer Memorial, just a short distance beyond the Pilot Boat Inn.

If you are feeling energetic and would like to walk back, cross the B3395 and follow the Bembridge Trail, initially along Station Road then a footpath, entering the RSPB Nature Reserve. Follow the path to the road and turn right. As the road bends left keep ahead to Bembridge Windmill. Turn right and follow the Bembridge Trail, as described below.

Great British Life: Bembridge Windmill is a famous landmark on the islandBembridge Windmill is a famous landmark on the island (Image: Fiona Barltrop)

EXTENDED ROUTE from waypoint 3 via Bembridge Windmill

Follow the path to Hillway Road, turn left then right to Sandown Road, continue on the opposite side to join a bridleway bearing right to the windmill. Turn left and go through a gate to follow the Bembridge Trail/Yar Valley Trail down the grassy slopes. Keep ahead to Great Sluice. Turn left through a gate (Gander Down) and continue along the left edge of a field to the road. Continue across the road to the right, footpath signed ‘Bembridge Down joining Coastal Path’. As an optional detour, head left up to Bembridge Fort (NT) on the way. Retrace initial steps to the start once back on the coast.


Start/finish (circular route): Yaverland car park (SZ611850)

Finish (linear route): Bembridge Point (SZ642886)

Map: OS Explorer OL29

Distance: 5 miles (8km) for linear route; 6¾ miles (10.7km) for circuit or 9½ miles (15.1km) for longer circuit

Terrain: Much of the route is along the well waymarked Coastal Path – moderate ascent at start, thereafter easy walking. Circuit includes section along Bembridge Trail through RSPB Brading Marshes Nature Reserve.

Time: 3 hours (or 5 hours for longer circuit)

Refreshments: Culver Haven Inn atop Culver Down (01983 406107); Crab & Lobster Inn (01983 872244) and Pilot Boat Inn (01983 872077), both Bembridge

Public transport: Wightlink car ferries between Portsmouth & Fishbourne and Lymington & Yarmouth, passenger-only catamaran between Portsmouth & Ryde 0333 999 7333, Bus service 8 from Ryde to Newport via Bembridge and Sandown,