The ‘Back of the Wight’ is the south-west facing coast of the Isle of Wight that runs from St Catherines Head to the Needles.
This is the Island's most rugged stretch of coastline – the part that faces down the English Chanel to the Western Approaches and the Atlantic Ocean. It is particularly popular with surfers as it holds two of the best known surf spots - Compton Bay and Freshwater Bay - which often catch the ocean swells from the Atlantic. But you will also see windsurfers and kite surfers at Brook Bay when the wind blows.
On calm days the cliffs below Tennyson Down and around Freshwater Bay are popular with kayakers and stand up paddleboards (SUP).
The back of the Wight has few sheltered bays, no harbours and lots of shallow water including the once infamous Atherfield Ledges which stretch a mile out to sea and were renound for causing shipwreaks in the days of sail and steam. This area can still catch the accasional unwary sailor – usually during the Round the Island Race.
Before the Military Road was built in the late nineteenth century much of the back of the Wight was inaccessible with just small roads or paths running from the villages along the downs to the coast.
From a visitor's point of view one the best thing about the Military Road is that it follows the coast and provides some great seaviews and access to some of the Isle of Wight's best beaches.