There are some lovely winter walks on the Isle of Wight, especially around and over Tennyson Down. They are a great opportunity to explore some of the countryside and coastline of this beautiful island that can only be reached on foot.
You don't have to be a seasoned walker as there is something for everyone, from quiet strolls to energetic hikes.
As with walking anywhere in the winter, make sure you are prepared. You will need suitable shoes or boots, warm clothing and, depending on the weather, waterproofs. A decent map and/or detailed directions for your walk will also help you not to get too lost!
Tennyson Down Walk
A popular walk is from Freshwater Bay over Tennyson Down to Alum Bay. It includes quite a steep climb, but the views make the effort well worth it. From Freshwater Bay briefly follow the road west and look for the footpath up to Tennyson's Monument which takes you across the fields and on to Tennyson Down. It can be a deceptive climb to the Monument and when you arrive you'll have climbed from sea level to 460 feet. From here you can see over the west coast of the Isle of Wight, the Solent and over to the mainland. A complete 360 degrees!
Alfred, Lord Tennyson was reputed to walk on this Downland most days, claiming that the air was worth "sixpence a pint" and something to think about as you regain your breath at the top.
From here you can either return the way you came or continue along the descending path until you reach a stile that leads to West High Down. You can then go on the upper path towards the Needles Battery with its views over the Needles, or take the lower path that descends to the road leading to Alum Bay.
Windy Day Walk
Another, similar walk from Freshwater Bay follows a lower route through farmland. This is a good walk if there is a strong westerly wind blowing.
Follow Gate Lane west, past Dimbola House and the thatched church to the Post Office. Shortly after this you come to a footpath on the left that will take you past Farringford house and the golf course and along the base of Tennyson Down, a good option if the wind is strong as it is usually quite sheltered. There is a steep path up to Tennyson's Monument to the left of the quarry or continue along the path on to the Downs and take and easier open path to the Monument. Either way from here it's a lovely downhill stroll back to Freshwater Bay with the wind at your back.
The West Wight has many lovely winter walks, from a simple stroll on the beach or an amble through natural woodlands, to a bracing walk over the downs or along the cliff tops with the surf roaring below - and no crowds!
For more information see the Isle of Wight Walking Festival website.