Around the Wight (Part 5): Luccombe to Ryde

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Passing through Luccombe into Shanklin, we (almost) say goodbye to the crumbling, unstable cliffs that have accompanied us since we left the chalk of Freshwater. It is chalk that comes back into view as we round the corner into Sandown Bay. This chalk spine runs almost unbroken right across the island from the famous Needles to Bembridge Down. Just like Freshwater and Totland in the west, Bembridge and Sandown in the east are all but cut off from the rest of the island by a river. Rather strangely they are both called the Yar. The diamond is truly symmetrical. Sandown and Shanklin are proper seaside resorts, so stock up on reserves.

One more seam of instability before the relatively stable chalk is Redcliff. These iron-rich sandstones provide a nice shallow red ramp up onto the pure white. In season the climb is rewarded by a nice little cafe at the top. There is also a pub with grub, but forget your stomach for a while and if you have time, pop 300m eastwards down the ridge road to the old defences.

I love the view from Bembridge Down as the Solent once again swings into view. Plod on to the easternmost point at Foreland, where you might see coast-to-coasters dipping their toes before setting off across our glorious diamond. After the descent, the walk stays close to sea level right to the end, but doesn't lack any interest for it.

Bembridge Harbour offers a choice between birds and boats. Follow my route to see the former on the opposite side to the harbour. Looking out across the wetland reserve that used to provide a sea route to Brading will present waders and if you're lucky, a marsh harrier. In the smaller ponds, I have seen kingfishers and some unusual waders in the winter, including a spoonbill, a ruff and a black-tailed godwit.

Stay on the road to see the boats. Whilst I prefer wildlife, there are some fascinating houseboats moored up in the harbour. Some are pretty creatively built, some have military history and some are converted to B&Bs. There is no shortage of wading birds on this side at low tide.

The causeway across the harbour near the site of the Old Mill Ponds has a strange and annoying little drop in it which is under a few inches of water at high spring tide, but it is the official coastal path. I have been forced to take off my boots and paddle a few times. Once across you soon arrive at the secluded quiet bays that lead into Seaview as we ignore the dull official route that wanders inland here.

Arriving at the shops of Seaview, it's sea wall all the way, or beach if you fancy finishing with a sandy stroll.

England - South England - Isle of Wight - Coast


Birds, Butterflies, Cafe, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Hills or Fells, National Trust, Nature Trail, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Sea, Tea Shop, Toilets, Wildlife, Woodland

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