Enjoy this coastal walk on the Isle of Wight from Brighstone to Shorwell

Enjoy sea views between points 5 and 6

Enjoy sea views between points 5 and 6 - Credit: Fiona Barltrop

Two lovely villages, superb downland views and a stretch of beautiful coastline make for a wonderful summer’s day walk says Fiona Barltrop

The delightful village of Brighstone, situated in the south-west of the Isle of Wight, makes an ideal base for walkers, with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways surrounding it. With chalk downland to the north and the sea and coast path to the south, a variety of fine walks can be devised. A couple of miles to the east is the picturesque village of Shorwell, which also offers excellent walking in all directions.  

Shorwell (pronounced Shorrel by some Island residents) takes its name from the local spring, the Shor Well. It was one of Queen Victoria’s favourite places to visit on the Isle of Wight. The village developed round St Peter’s Church which is notable for its mural of St Christopher, painted about 1440. Shorwell is also home to three historic manor houses: Westcourt, the oldest, Wolverton Manor and Northcourt, the largest manor house on the Island. Like Wolverton it hosts a variety of events, and provides accommodation.  

Head east along the Worsley Trail between points 2 and 3

Head east along the Worsley Trail between points 2 and 3 - Credit: Fiona Barltrop

Between Brighstone and Shorwell is a stretch of downland that takes in Limerstone Down, one of the best viewpoints on the Island. After an initial ascent from Brighstone to the top of the downs, the walk joins the Worsley Trail, one of the Island’s inland trails, taking in Limerstone Down. The walk follows it down to the B3323, where a permissive path leads you down to Shorwell. The Crown Inn makes a good refreshment stop before the longer, but gentler return leg to Brighstone.  

This takes you southwards to the coast along quiet lanes and field paths, joining the final stretch of another waymarked route, the Shepherds [sic] Trail, which leads down to the coast. This is a gentle stretch of cliff-top coast path which makes for easy walking. If you fancy a paddle or dip in the sea, there is access to the beach via steps at Shepherd’s Chine. Otherwise, the next access point is at Grange Chine, just beyond the turning inland back to Brighstone.  

For those visiting the Island without a car, there are good bus services connecting Brighstone with Yarmouth, Fishbourne and Ryde, all served by regular Wightlink crossings from the mainland. A regular bus service links Shorwell and Brighstone, just a six-minute ride, if you’d prefer to omit the return leg of the walk. 

Enjoy the dramatic sunset over Tennyson Down from the coast path

Enjoy the dramatic sunset over Tennyson Down from the coast path - Credit: Fiona Barltrop

The walk

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1 (SZ427827) From the car park walk back up the lane to the main road (B3399) – on the right is the Three Bishops pub, so named because three of Brighstone’s past rectors later became bishops. Turn left and then right along North Street passing picturesque thatched cottages, one housing the local museum. At the T-junction cross the road and continue up the track opposite which ascends the downs. Stay on the bridleway bearing right and continuing up and across open downland to a junction where you bear left. Ignore the next bridleway on your left and keep ahead at the following junction continuing north-west up the downs to the top of the chalk ridge.  

2 (SZ434840) Turn right along the ridge-top track, soon passing the Limerstone Down viewpoint (toposcope) over to your right. In the distance to the west you can see the chalk cliffs of Tennsyon Down. Continue along the track (Worsley Trail) passing a large quarry over to the left. Visible ahead of you is the Chillerton Down communications that can be seen from nearly all of the Isle of Wight. Ignore mountain bike trails and follow the main track down to the road (B3323).  

Find the viewpoint at Limerstone Down

Find the viewpoint at Limerstone Down - Credit: Fiona Barltrop

3 (SZ457837) Just before the road turn right and immediately left by a permissive footpath fingerpost. Follow the enclosed path, soon with a field on your right, then through woodland, carpeted with wild garlic. Turn off left down steps, a wooden hand railing on your right, back to the road. (The wooden footbridge that crosses the road just to the south is closed.) Cross the road and continue on the path opposite which joins a bridleway descending to the junction of New Barn Lane and the B3323. Carry on down through the village passing the church on your left.  

4 (SZ457829) Bear left at the mini-roundabout (or right for the Crown Inn), then right along Fine Lane. Follow it to the end continuing along the bridleway which leads to a lane at the entrance drive to Wolverton Manor. Keep ahead and take the next left, Doctors Lane. At the T-junction turn left, following the lane round to the right. As it bends left, keep ahead along the bridleway, continuing ahead at the next junction, now on the Shepherds Trail, which leads to the A3055.  

5 (SZ450800) Cross and continue along the enclosed path which descends to a waymark post, where the Coast Path is joined. Bear right round Shepherd’s Chine and up onto the cliff top, where the path heads briefly inland round Cowleaze Chine, thereafter resuming its cliff-edge route.  

6 (SZ424815) Before reaching the Grange Farm campsite turn right across the stile and follow the footpath (Cliff Lane – track) to the main road. Cross and continue along the road past Marsh Green Farm. At the T-junction turn left and in a few paces right to follow the footpath back to Brighstone, turning left past the church back to the village centre.  

The pretty village of Brighstone is lovely to explore

The pretty village of Brighstone is lovely to explore - Credit: Fiona Barltrop

Compass points

Start/finish: Brighstone village car park south of main road (SZ427827) 

Map: OS Explorer OL29  

Distance: 8½ miles (13.6km) or 3¼ miles (5.25km) – taking bus back from Shorwell to Brighstone 

Terrain: Clear downland tracks and paths; very quiet country lanes; gentle, grassy cliff top coast path – take care near crumbling cliff edges 

Time: 4 hours or 1½ - 2 hours for shorter option 

Refreshments: Three Bishops (01983 740226), Newsagents & Coffee Shop (01983 740227) and Tandem Tea Room (01983 740042), all in Brighstone; Crown Inn, Shorwell (01983 740293) 

Public transport: Wightlink car ferries between Portsmouth and Fishbourne and Lymington and Yarmouth; passenger catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde, 0333 999 7333, wightlink.co.uk. Bus service 12 via Brighstone and Shorwell, islandbuses.info.  

Accommodation: Chilton Farm (self-catering and B&B) chiltonfarm.co.uk, peaceful location near Brighstone and coast.