Isle of Wight Coastal Path: Shanklin to Bembridge




7.5 miles (12kms)

410ft (125m)

About the walk

The route follows the Coastal Path (69 miles/111km), which is well signed on the ground with blue signs and a seagull symbol. Constant erosion of the island’s coastline means the path may be rerouted at any point, but this is usually clearly marked. Note that access for dogs to most of the island’s beaches is restricted in summer. For information about bus links and timetables, see

It is pleasant to walk beside the sea along the wide, flat esplanade and on the and on the actual sand when the tide is out, all the way to Sandown, with fine views of Sandown Bay and Culver Cliff away in the distance. This sandy bay was perceived as vulnerable to attack from the Continent, and at various times bristled with defensive fortifications. In more recent times, Sandown boomed as a holiday resort with the arrival of the railway in the 1860s, and paddle-steamers docked at the end of the pier. Today it’s still a holiday town, teeming with visitors in the summer but eerily quiet and empty in winter.
Dinosaur Isle, on Culver Parade to the north of Sandown, is a modern museum centre opened in 2001, dedicated to the dinosaur and other fossils discovered on the Isle of Wight, and to explaining the island’s unique geology. Its sweeping roofline resembles a giant pterodactyl in flight.

As you reach the edge of Yaverland, you may hear the unlikely roar of tigers. The Isle of Wight Zoo occupies the site of an old Victorian fort – which is why the walls are so thick. The fort was a key location during World War II, housing the vital pumps that would keep the fuel in the PLUTO pipeline moving through to the Allied troops France.

The tall obelisk on the top of Culver Down is a useful land- and seamark. It was raised by public subscription to commemorate the Earl of Yarborough (1781–1846), and its inscription it goes to some length to extol the virtues of the fine naval architect and First Commodore of the Royal Yacht Squadron. The monument originally stood on slightly higher ground, but was moved to make way for the building of Bembridge Fort in the 1860s.


Walk directions

Walk northwards along the broad, level esplanade which runs along the base of the cliff. Follow this for 1.25 miles to Sandown Pier. Originally constructed in 1876, the pier has had many rebuilds and regeneration efforts over the years, and currently houses an amusement park including an indoor bowling alley.

From the pier, continue along the esplanade to the very end, then veer left, up off the beach onto the esplanade road. Pass the modern white building of the Dinosaur Isle attraction on the left. The path up Culver Cliff is easy to see up ahead.

The path leaves the road to begin the climb Culver Down at Yaverland, the site of a Wealden marl outcrop, rich in dinosaur remains. As you climb the grassy slopes, look on your left to the brow of the hill where you will see the walls of Bembridge Fort, one of many Palmerston Forts completed in 1867 to repel the perceived threat of attack from Napoleon’s forces, and now home to a zoo specialising in tigers and lemurs. At a kissing gate, follow the coastal path bearing right along the cliff top, climbing steadily towards the large obelisk, the Yarborough Monument, on the top of Culver Down.

After examining the monument, return to the road and turn sharp left along the path just before the entrance to the remains of Culver Down battery. Follow the path as it begins to descend to the right through light woodland along the side of the hill, passing over a stile to the caravan site at Whitecliff Bay.

The coastal path now goes through the edge of the holiday park, and the recently reconstructed coastal path continues twisting and turning past the site of the former Bembridge School.

Additional information

Pavement, chalky field paths, residential streets

Bustling resort seafront giving way to high downs, and chalky cliffs leading through a quiet residential area</p>

Lead required along seafront, and over farmland around livestock

OS Explorer OL29

Car park by Bembridge Lifeboat Station (pay and display)

Sandown seafront; Bembridge by lifeboat station

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About the area

Discover Isle of Wight

There’s a timeless quality to the Isle of Wight. For many it embodies the spirit and atmosphere of English seaside holidays. Small and intimate – at just 23 miles by 13 miles – it’s a great place to get away from it all. And with its mild climate, long hours of sunshine and colourful architecture, it has something of a continental flavour.

Explore the island’s varied coastline at any time of the year using the well-established Coast Path. Even in the depths of winter, the weather conditions are often favourable for walking. The island has more than 500 miles of public rights of way in all. There are numerous other things to do too. You could plan a week’s itinerary and not set foot on the beach. The island’s history is fascinating and it was long considered as a convenient stepping stone for the French in their plan to invade the UK mainland. Various fortifications – including Fort Victoria, Carisbrooke Castle and Yarmouth Castle – reflect its key strategic role in the defence of our coastline.

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