A Hiker's Guide to England's Isle of Wight

Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, England
Alum Bay, Isle of Wight, England | © Isle of Wight UK/Flickr
Annie Hopkins

Culture Trip guides you through everything you need to know about hiking on England’s breathtaking Isle of Wight.

Why go?

The Isle of Wight is a beautiful island perched just off the south coast of England. With 150 square miles to explore, much of which is an officially designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it’s popular with hikers due to its remarkably diverse landscapes (it’s not known as ‘England in Miniature’ for nothing.)

Difficulty

You can do it! In the grand scheme of things (that is, globally) the Isle of Wight is at the gentler end of the hiking scale. Its wide variety of terrains do mean it has a range of challenges, from gentler strolls to hardcore hikes, but with the right pair of shoes, a decent level of fitness and sensible gear, you’ll be grand.

Type of terrain

This of course depends on the route you’ve picked. There are many popular paths along the stunning clifftops, along manageable village lanes or through muddy woodland. Some of the longer walks require some climbing, so make sure you check your route and footwear before you head out. Keep an eye out for crumbling verges that may collapse after heavy rain. If in doubt, stick to your route and you’ll be in the safe hands of many who’ve marched there before you.

Best time to go

The warmest weeks of the island’s year are in summer. One of a few southern counties claiming to have the best weather in the UK, the Isle of Wight has the most dry days between May and August, where it averages around five to six dry days per week. Prices will subsequently be higher during these months, and sunscreen should be a suitcase essential. June and early July are good options if you want warmth while avoiding the school holiday crowds. Spring and autumn work well as they’re generally cooler but can surprise you with blissful sunshine and an off-peak price tag.

The Pepperpot, Isle of Wight

Any specific equipment?

Sensible boots and an emergency waterproof will stand you in good stead. While it’s always best to give your smartphone a break while getting back to nature, keep it on hand for emergencies (while poor signal may be an issue, it’s best to have the option). A detailed map means you can remain largely screen-free, get into the hiking spirit and breathe in those spectacular views. Water and snacks should frankly be a staple in any backpack – no one likes a hangry hiker.

Local points of interest to see

Follow Queen Victoria’s Trail which takes in sights and spaces with a key connection to Victoria and Albert. There are also trails dedicated to the island’s literary heroes such as Lord Tennyson, Lewis Carroll and other writers including some locals. There’s even a trail dedicated to Winston Churchill based around his experience on the island. Take in the stunning Needles and the beautiful Pepper Pot for dreamy sea views.

Anywhere good to stop off and eat?

As well as a cracking range of traditional pubs to choose from for a hearty roast dinner where friendly patrons won’t bat an eyelid at your muddy boots, consider the Three Buoys restaurant. With a lipsmacking menu, super-chic furnishings and a stunning view over Appley Bay, this is a fine place to refuel either midway through your journey or as a post-hike reward.

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