Isle of Wight Coastal Path: Sandown to Ventnor


General Data

This leg eschews the promenade that runs between Sandown and Shanklin, and instead takes the upper route at the top of the cliffs. This grants some good views east over the English Channel at the cost of more exertion. It descends to cross Shanklin Chine at sea level, before climbing up onto the cliffs once more past Luccombe Village. It finally descends to meet the end of a promenade, which gives an easy walk into Ventnor.

Distance  5.7 miles
Ascent  1010 feet
Descent  1010 feet
Est. time  2 hours 54 minutes
Difficulty  medium

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 on the preomenade beside Sandown Pier. Head southwestwards along the promenade, and when it ends after a couple of hundred yards at SZ596838 turn right to join a path that angles steeply uphill behind some apartments. It curves to the left to reach a path that runs along the top of the cliffs. Follow this for about one and a half miles as it follows the cliffs, initially southwestwards and then southwards.

At SZ586817 it crosses Hope Road Approach; continue on up Eastcliff Promenade. When this ends continue on along the path southwards; it joins a road for a while, and when this curves to the right head straight on uphill along another path before joining Chine Avenue. Follow this downhill for a short distance; when it curves to the right continue on downhill along another path. This curves to the right past a pub, and then to the left once more, curving more before ending at the promenade at the base of the cliffs.

Turn right and follow the promenade southwards past the mouth of the chine. When Appley Steps are reached at SZ584808, turn right to ascend the long flight of steps onto the top of the cliffs. At the top the path turns to the right to head inland, becoming Popham Road. This swings to the left, and then turn left up Luccombe Road. Follow this road for half a mile; there is a path skirting through a field to the right for a short stretch, but the road is quiet enough for this not to be needed.

At SZ583300 the road splits; take the left-hand fork which soon becomes a path that heads through scrubland to seaward of Luccombe Village. It is easy to follow as it enters an area of landslip, now thoroughly populated with trees, eventually dropping down onto the end of a promenade at SZ578779.

Follow the promenade as it twists and turns southwestwards for a mile until it reaches Ventnor Harbour at SZ563773

Alternative routes

Instead of taking the clifftop route between Sandown and Shanklin, it is possible to take the promenade that stretches between the two towns. The official path would have to be rejoined at Appley Steps.


Places of interest


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 seaside resort of Shanklin is, like its close neighbour Sandown, built on the hills that lie behind the cliffs that front Sandown Bay. A promenade near sea level links it to Sandown, although the coastal path chooses to cling to the clifftops between the two towns. Whilst Sandown came into existence in Victorian times, Shanklin expanded around a small and remote village that nestled in Shanklin Chine. The thatched houses of the Old Village are one of the attractions of the town.

The 1200-foot long Shanklin Pier opened in 1890. Sadly it was comprehensively destroyed in the Great Storm of 1987. During World War II the pier was used as part of the PipeLine Under The Ocean (PLUTO) project, and an oil pipeline was constructed across the channel to Cherbourg. Although much of the pipeline was recovered after the war, a short section can be seen in Shankline Chine. A cliff lift was built to take people from the town to the pier below; this still exists in a modern and brutally ugly form.

location UID #21


Ventnor is a seaside resort built on the seaward flank of St Boniface Down, the highest point on the island. Originally it was a small fishing village that expanded rapidly once the Isle of Wight railway arrived in 1866. Because it is built on a hillside getting around town often involves steep walks. The town’s two railway stations were closed by 1966, although the town has good bus links running down the coast to Ryde and inland to Newport.

The Victorians recognised that the area has a distinct and healthy microclimate, and that led to the construction of the Royal National Hospital for Diseases of the Chest in 1869. It lasted a century before medical advances made such hospitals redundant. It was demolished a few years later, and was replaced with a botanic garden that is open to the public. The coastal path skirts the gardens, and an old furnace is the only obvious sign of the building.

Ventnor does not have a pier, and it is a surprise to find that it once had three. The first two did not last long, but the third, the Royal Victoria Pier, lasted until it was demolished in 1993; it was replaced by a bandstand on the shoreward side.

location UID #22

The Ventnor Undercliffs

The eight miles of coast between Luccombe and St Catherine’s Point, including the town of Ventnor itself, are dominated by historic landslips. These are most prominent to the southwest of the town where the sea cliffs are towered over by much higher cliffs half a mile inland.

A road, Undercliff Drive, leads along part of the Undercliff between Niton and Ventnor. The remaining part stretching west from Niton to Blackgang was swept away in a landslip in the early twentieth century. The slips occur because hard rocks overly a blue clay called Gault, with the strata dipping towards the sea. The clay becomes saturated after heavy rain until it cannot support the mass of rocks above, causing the lot to slump. This process is worsened by the sea eroding the toe of the slope.

The coastal path follows the low cliffs at the very edge of the sea before heading inland through St Lawrence to reach the high cliffs behind.

location UID #23


The half-hourly Southern Vectis Route 3 service runs between Newport and Ryde, calling at Sandown and Ventnor 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)