Isle of Wight Coastal Path: Bembridge to Sandown


General Data

One literal high point dominates this leg, the climb up onto Culver Down and past the Yarborough Monument. Superb views can be had eastwards over the English Channel from this hill. The trail sticks close by the coast for most of the way, the exception being a slight diversion inland at Foreland.

Distance  5.6 miles
Ascent  571 feet
Descent  558 feet
Est. time  2 hours 25 minutes
Difficulty  easy

Map of the leg

Maps courtesy of Google Maps. Route for indicative purposes only, and may have been plotted after the walk. Please let me have comments on what you think of this new format.


This leg starts off at the pier belonging to Bembridge Lifeboat, at SZ656880. Climb up and pass through the car park to join a road, Fishermans Walk, which runs just inland of the shore. As it approaches a small golf course turn right down a narrow footpath southwestwards until it ends at Foreland Farm Lane. Turn left along this lane and follow it as it curves to the right, then turn left along Beachfield Road. This curves to the right to pass a coastguard building. Immediately after the building turn left to pass through the car park of the Crab and Lobster pub to reach a path beside the coast. The path curves to the right and runs along the ntop of the cliffs westwards before reaching a lane at SZ654872.

The footpath along the tops of the cliffs from here has been shut due to landslips, so turn right to walk north up this road. Take the first road off to the left, Howgate Road, and follow that southwestwards for a little over half a mile until the road curves to the right at SZ645870. Pass a gateway and then turn left and follow a path back down to the clifftops. Once there, turn right to rejoin the path as it heads southwestwards, passing seawards of the old Bembridge school.

The path emerges out onto into a grassy area of a caravan park; continue on along the edge of the cliffs, passing a sloping track leading down to the beach, and on out of the park. The path curves to the left and then starts to climb up through some scrubland, taking a more westerly course. It emerges out onto grassland near the top of the ascent; make your way to a gap in the hedge and then turn half-right to head towards the Yarborough Monument.

From the monument turn left to head down towards the road. Turn right for a few yards, passing a cafe on the left, and then turn left down a footpath that heads across grassland to reach the clifftop path. Turn right and start following the path downhill for a little over a mile; it is never strays too far from the edge of the cliffs. It eventually reaches a car park, and then the B3395 road at SZ610849. Do not join the road, but instead take the promenade that runs alongside it for 0.6 miles, and then turn left down Avenue Road Slipway to reach the promenade once again.

The road soon ends at the sea once again; turn right and continue southwestwards along the promenade. After half a mile the promenade reaches Sandown Pier, where thus leg ends.


Places of interest

Bembridge Lifeboat

An elegant concrete pier juts out into the sea from the eastern tip of the Isle of Wight at Bembridge. Closer inspection shows that the seaward end houses an equally elegant lifeboat house. This narrow pier was constructed in 2010, replacing an earlier 250-yard long structure that had been built in 1922.

location UID #15

Bembridge School

Bembridge School was a private school situated high on the cliffs on the eastern side of the Isle of Wight. It was founded in 1919 and included a large archive of the works of John Ruskin. Sadly it closed in the 1990s.

However, it lives on in a strange form. One of the main characters in the popular ‘Mummy’ films repeatedly refers to a group called the ‘Bembridge Scholars’, supposed Egyptian specialists based in the school. This was absolute fiction but gave the school a fame even after it closed.

location UID #16

Culver Down and The Yarborough Monument

Culver Down is the easternmost extent of the chalk hills that run the length of the Isle of Wight from The Needles (and, indeed, onwards from Old Harry Rocks on the mainland near Swanage). Its high position allows great views out over the Channel to the east.

The Yarborough Monument sits near the summit of the down. This was built on the western end of the down in 1849 to commemorate the 2nd Baron Yarborough, who founded the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes. However it did not stay in place for long; after a few years it was moved to its present position when Bembridge Fort was constructed.

The fort was one of several Palmerston follies built on the island. It was finally completed in 1867, but the expected French invasion never came. It is now partially in the care of the National Trust.

location UID #17

Sandown Zoo

The Isle of Wight Zoo is the Isle of Wight’s only zoo, and is situated in the old Sandown fort, beside the coast immediately to the northeast of the town. It is home to a large collection of animals, including lions and over twenty tigers. Many of the large cats are animals rescued from elsewhere in the UK.

location UID #18


Sandown is a pleasant seaside town on the eastern coast of the Isle of Wight. It is situated on a sheltered bay and is fronted by a large sandy beach which, when combined with the favourable climate, proved irresistible to Victorian developers. The majority of the town is situated on the high ground behind the cliffs that rise quickly from the beach.

location UID #19

Sandown Pier

Culver Pier, Sandown is one of the few surviving piers on the Isle of Wight. It was built between 1876 and 1879, before alter being extended to its current length of 875 feet. Like many piers it was sectioned in World War II to prevent it being used for an invasion, but was repaired after the war. It has seen the almost-obligatory fire, but has been restored. It currently is home to an amusement arcade and a bowling alley, although pleasure cruises still occasionally leave from the pier head.

location UID #20


The hourly Southern Vectis Route 8 service runs between Newport and Ryde, calling at Sandown and Bembridge on the way.

Map information

Landranger (1:50,000)   Explorer (1:25,000)
Landranger 196 (The Solent & The Isle of Wight, Southampton & Portsmouth)
Explorer 29 (Isle of Wight)