Head to the Isle of Wight for a coastal walk

At the end of Priory Road the walk heads down the cliff to the shoreline via a flight of steps © Ste

At the end of Priory Road the walk heads down the cliff to the shoreline via a flight of steps © Steve Davison - Credit: Steve Davison

Steve Davison heads across to the Isle of Wight for a coastal walk offering some great views and a visit to the seaside town of Shanklin

The walk follows a good path over the lofty downs © Steve Davison

The walk follows a good path over the lofty downs © Steve Davison - Credit: Steve Davison

For this month’s walk we head across The Solent to the east coast of the Isle of Wight for an invigorating, and rather hilly walk up Shanklin Down. To start with, the first part of the walk takes a fairly level route along paths and quiet lanes through Luccombe heading north to reach the seaside town of Shanklin. Mentioned in the Domesday Book as ‘Scenchlinc’, a name derived from the chine (or gorge) that cuts into the cliff, Shanklin remained a small fishing village until the Victorian period. The railway arrived in 1864 with the opening of the line from Ryde and a new, and larger, church - the Parish Church of St Saviour on the Cliff - was built in 1867.

Shanklin Chine (entrance charge), with its waterfall that tumbles down the cliff, is said to be one of the island’s oldest tourist attractions having been opened in 1817 by William Colenutt. He also opened the picturesque thatch-roofed Fisherman’s Cottage pub at the entrance to the chine right beside the water’s edge. During World War II, PLUTO (or Pipe-Line-Under-The-Ocean), built to provide a ready supply of fuel for the advancing army, ran through Shanklin before heading across The Channel to France.

The walk follows the Esplanade as far as the Clock Tower, another Victorian addition, built in 1897. Here, we leave behind the buckets and spades and head up the Osbourne Steps before meandering through the older part of town, with its thatched cottages, to reach the Old Parish Church of St Blasius, originally built in the twelfth century.

From here the walk heads up Shanklin Down to reach the trig point on the summit which, at 235m above sea level, just misses out on being the highest point on the island by only a few metres. Take a rest and admire the panoramic view before heading south along the crest of Luccombe Down with further views. A final steep descent from Bonchurch Down leads back to the car park.


In 2014 the PCF are asking people to Walk a Country Mile to raise awareness for the countryside. To register your support sign up at www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk or text PCF to 70300 to make a £3 donation.


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Distance: 5 1/2 miles (8.3km) or 4 1/4 miles (6.7km)

Time: 2 3/4 or 2 1/4 hours without stops

Terrain: A steep climb and descent, tracks and paths which can be muddy, stiles and gates

Start/Finish: Car park on A3055 Bonchurch Road between Bonchurch and Shanklin; grid ref SZ580789

Map: OS Explorer OL29

Refreshments: Several pubs and tea rooms in Shanklin


1 (SZ580789) – Stand in the car park with the main road behind you and take the path to the left - signposted for Luccombe and Shanklin - heading north-east through the trees and down some steps (the path to the right leads to a tea room and the landslip). Turn left along the gravel track and later take the right-hand fork straight on. Pass a thatched cottage and keep ahead at the junction following footpath SS2 - Shanklin Old Town 1 1/2. Where the track bends left to a cottage, go straight on along the path towards Luccombe Village. Keep straight on at the next junction (signposted for Shanklin) following an undulating path through the trees to eventually join a surfaced lane - Luccombe Road. Follow the road for 700m to a junction with Priory Road on the left (anyone following the shorter walk turn left here to join the A3055 and then continue the main walk).

2 (SZ583806) – Continue straight on and at the next junction bear right along Popham Road passing Rylstone Gardens (tea room). Where the road turns left towards Rylstone Manor go straight on along the surfaced path (passing the Grand View Tea Garden) and head down the steps to the shore line. Turn left towards Shanklin, passing the Fisherman’s Cottage pub and beach huts. Continue along the Esplanade and just after passing the Clock Tower, turn left across the road and follow the zig-zag footpath - the Osbourne Steps - uphill (car park and lift on right). On reaching Osborne Road turn sharp left to follow the Coastal Path (Keats Green) to reach Chine Avenue. Turn right, keep ahead at the crossroads and follow the road up to the High Street (A3055), using the fenced pavement on the right.

3 (SZ582810) – Turn left down the High Street passing the thatch-roofed and aptly named ‘Old Thatch Teashop’ and then follow Church Road uphill to a junction with Manor Road on the right (on the way the shortcut joins from Priory Road on the left). Cross over Manor Road and go through the lychgate to enter the churchyard and follow the path to the left of the St Blasius Old Parish Church. Cross the stile and keep ahead along the Worsley Trail to cross another stile. Continue up through two fields separated by a stile and cross another stile to head up between gorse bushes and scrub, climbing more steeply. Cross a stile beside a large gate and keep ahead with trees on the right. Cross another stile and turn left along the left-hand boundary and once in the next field, head diagonally right up to the trig point on Shanklin Down.

4 (SZ567801) – From the trig point go straight on (south-west), cross two stiles in the hedge and immediately turn left, following the fence on the left. Go through a small gate with a bridleway off to the left and keep ahead through another gate passing a National Trust sign. Follow the wide stony path along Luccombe Down to a track junction and turn left to the car park and viewpoint on Bonchurch Down. Head eastwards down the wide grassy spur passing some hawthorn bushes. The descent starts to get much steeper, cross a stile and continue down through the field to a gate at the bottom. Cross over the road back to the car park.