Walking Routes on the Isle of Wight

It’s hard to write just one post about the Isle of Wight, as it’s the place I was born and raised for 17 years of my life. So much to say and so much to see! But for now I’ll pick some topics and expand from there!

Whether you are visiting on your own, with your partner or with children these 6 walking routes (which are some of my fav) are fun for all to explore and enjoy!

1. Tennyson Down

To reach the top you can start either at Alum Bay and take the pathed road via the Needles (great views) or from Freshwater Bay. Once you reach the top, there is a memorial to Lord Tennyson, a poet who lived nearby for 40 years. It’s often windy so dress appropriately and don’t walk too closely to the cliffs! For more information check out this National Trust webpage.

Don’t miss the opportunity to check out the Alum Bay while you are there, where you can walk down to the beach or take the chairlift for some fantastic views of the lighthouse.DSC_2912

2. Parkhurst Forest

Are you ready for a red squirrel hunt? There is a special route you can follow to spot the famous isle of Wight red squirrels. They can also be spotted at different locations on the island, but in my experience I have seen most here! There are also plenty of other paths to explore the forest and enjoy the peace and nature too.

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Source: Lin’s Isle of Wight Walks

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Source: Visit Isle of Wight 

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3. Compton Beach

This beach is perfect for walking along with sand in your toes (or exploring the rocks), swimming and to watch the sun set in the distance behind the cliffs towards Tennyson Down (above those beautiful white cliffs). You can walk all the way along the beach when the tide is out, but you can also walk along at the top too. Just be aware that the edge is very slowly falling down into the sea, so dont walk to close to the edge if on the beach or above it. This beach is perfect for dogs too!

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4. Steephill Cove

This hidden treasure can be reached walking down from the parking area, but I recommend to walk to from Ventnor along the coast. Take an afternoon here and stop at the Crab Shed for  lunch. On a clear day you may even see France!

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Steephill Cove; Isle of Wight
Source: Upix Photography

5. Cowes Cycle Track

This track used to be the railway track from Cowes to Newport, transporting goods and passengers from 1859. Now tarmacked, it can be walked and cycled from Newport to Cowes and back. Closer to Cowes there is a refurbished wooden bridge to cross over, a popular place now to feed ducks from. This one is pretty easy with as its flat and just under 10km there and back.

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Source: Worthing Wanderer

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6. Newtown

This less popular touristic area is a place I would visit often as it does not compare to anything else on the island, reachable by car, bike and a local bus. Mostly used by birdwatchers, it’s also a natural harbour and marshlands that is used by local fishermen. The 17th century historic town hall is now open to the public so take a look and learn the history of how the French raided in 1377, which destroyed most if not all of the village. Take the wooden walkway all the way along to the end of the route to try and spot some uncommon native species!

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DSC_2720Check out more walking routes and extra information on the National Trust – Isle of Wight routes.

Normandy, France – Day Two

The cloudy morning turned to sunshine as we had reached our first destination of the day, Pointe Du Hoc. Free to get in we walked past through to the viewpoints of the bunkers and monument. Amazing to see the view and how far along the coast you can see, how the Germans positioned themselves during the war. Here you could also experience the damaged bunkers (could go in a few) and the massive holes in the ground left behind from the bombs.

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We took the drive from Pointe Du Hoc to Carentan, in search of a place for lunch and our next destination the La Combe German Cemetery. It wasn’t very advertised with road signs so we had to use the sat nav and address, obviously not a place the French like to advertise. How strange it was to be walking among 22,000 graves of German soldiers, many of them aged between 16 to 22. Most graves consisted of two people, with too many that were unknown with no name.

Keeping other cemeteries in mind, we headed next to the American Cemetery & Memorial, which was the complete opposite of the German cemetery. This place seemed the busiest out of all of our chosen museums and places we visited during the weekend. The American cemetery is close to Omaha beach where most American soldiers lost their lives. The cemetery is filled with perfectly lined white crosses with one grave per soldier. It was all very touching with different graves having flowers placed in respect.

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DSC_2010The last museum on our list was the Overlord Museum. Greeted with original tanks situated outside we went in and looked at the big collection of items from June 6th, 1944. There was some interesting personal items and stories of witnesses and soldiers throughout the museum and compelling to see items like a tank full of bullet holes.

We finished the day with a dinner in Bayeux followed by a long walk around the beautiful city. Couldn’t resist a nutella pancake for pudding too!

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Check out Day Three here!

Normandy, France – Day One

We spent our first morning in Arromanches visiting the 360 Museum and D-Day Museum De Debarquement, parking our rented car at the top of the cliff and walking down to the museums and beach. The small town was pretty and clean, with an amazing view out to sea with high tide covering the ruins of the wall that was built during WW2. We enjoyed walking around there so much that we didn’t realise it was already 2:30pm and we hadn’t ate, so before we left we bought a nice baguette and drink each!

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DSC_1688The afternoon lead us to Pegasus Bridge museum, visiting the original bridge that the English fought at, with a very interesting tour through the museum about the glider planes and how easy the bridge actually was to take over with only 2 Germans guarding the bridge at night.

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We really enjoyed this museum, the lady who gave the tour even got a little emotional telling a story of a guy who had returned to Pegasus Bridge after 70 years, seeing the graves of his comrades and speaking for first time about what happened when he was there. The guy was a pilot who helped direct the glider planes to the bridge, which were full up with 28 men. It was so emotional to hear as he had so much responsibility for the glider plane towed behind his plane, which unfortunately broke loose too early, causing the men to die under his watch.

We headed back to Arromanche for a pizza, followed by an relaxing walk on beach. It was now low tide, so we could walk all the way out to the ruins of what had been left in the sea. We finished the evening watching a summer fireworks event at Port-en-Bessin-Huppain with all the locals.

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Check out Day Two here!

Hoek Van Holland, The Netherlands

When you think of the Netherlands the first thoughts are often about the tulips, cycling, windmills at Kinderdijk, smoking the legal drug cannabis or the red light district of Amsterdam (I got lost here once!). But the Netherlands also has many beaches to visit, one of them is the well known beach of Hoek Van Holland.

It’s the main entrance for cruise and container ships to enter the Rotterdam Harbour, along the the River Maas from the North Sea. So when the tide is high, the wind is strong and you walk along the North Pier you could be in for a swim! The North Pier itself is 4.5 kilometres long and perfect to walk to the end.

Friday 7th August (19)The beach is a combination of sand and stones, with one path that leads you from the North Pier to the busier section of the boulevard, where most tourists and locals stop for a bite to eat and to enjoy the activities.

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It’s a great place for a wintery walk with your cosy winter coat on, before stopping for a hot chocolate in a restaurant, as well as a day in summer in your bikini, having a dip in the sea before getting an ice cream.

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Getting here by train or bus is pretty easy, with a new metro being built that should be complete by 2018. I once cycled here from Rotterdam, took a little over 2 hours at a pleasant speed with some stops along the way like at Maassluis and at the Het Keringhuis  (the storm barrier flood gates).

So grab your winter coat or bikini and visit for a great day out!

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Cycling from Rotterdam

 

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Friday 7th August (18)

UK Road Trip, 2011

After quitting my full time job in England and having a month before my start date to work as an Au Pair in the Netherlands I wanted to do something spontaneous. I had to sell my car and sort out all my belongings to keep, sell or to give to charity. The month was passing by so quickly!

Well before selling the car we decided on a road trip in England! My partner had arrived in the UK to visit me on the Isle of Wight for about 2 weeks, but we spontaneously decided that I would pick him up at the airport and we would just drive from place to place until the two weeks were up!

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Picking him up from Bournemouth Airport, due to being too late to land at the usual airport of Southampton we had a hotel for the night before we first set off. Our plan was to drive anticlockwise around England.

Below are the cities we visited! The bold cities is where we had a place to sleep and the other cities is where we took day trips to. Planning everything went well, once arriving at one place we booked the next place for a few days in advance making it cheap to do being last minute.

  • Hastings
  • Brighton
  • Clacton-On-Sea
  • Cambridge
  • Scarborough
  • Newcastle
  • Bath
  • Wales

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This is the estimated route we likely took to the cities we had sleeping arrangements in. This map does not include the day trips from each city.

Hastings

This was our first stop, a lovely little place to walk along the beach and for a some seaside lunch.

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While we were here we did the usual touristic sightseeing and shopping but it was raining for the whole time, giving us not much time to enjoy the beach or relax in the sun with an ice cream. We visited a little castle on the way to our next destination, which was pretty and gave us some great views of the cliffs towards Dover.

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This was a beautiful little spot to stay and relax at. Close to the sea with some beautiful walking routes.

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We visited Cambridge for a day trip, a place not to be missed during a road trip around England. The beautiful city has so much to see and do it was hard to decide what to see and where to walk first! As tourists of course we had a punting tour along the river and visited the King’s College Chapel and the grounds.

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Scarborough

Once we were settled at the Cayton Bay Holiday Park, who gave us a luxury camping home with bottle of wine for a different couple (which we drank!), we were greeted by the beautiful view of the sea and coast. We walked here for ages! In the city we visited the seafront, got the ice creams we missed out when in Brighton and visited the castle.

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Newcastle

We took a day trip here to visit the Angel of the North and some shopping. Driving from Scarborough along the coast was beautiful and we ended up having the sun the whole day, making it a great day for lunch outside and lots of walking.

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Stopping here on our long journey back to the Isle of Wight was the perfect place. The city gave us the combination of history with visiting Bath Abbey and relaxing with lots of little cafes to sit at and unique shops to visit.

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Wales

A day trip over the Severn Bridge to visit some castles, such as the Raglan Castle. We also found some roman ruins that we discovered along the road too.

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Heading Home To Southampton

We took the Clifton Suspension Bridge back on the way driving south. We planned to stop at Stonehenge, since I had also never been here so close to home. It was rather busy but we queued up for a ticket and an audio guide. Interesting to visit!

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Overall we loved our spontaneous trip, even if we missed some pretty nice places to visit. Every place had its uniqueness and different activities to do so its hard to pick the best place, however Scarborough was one of our highlights, greeted with sunshine and those pretty views!

Norwich, England 2013/2014

First Visit – November 2013

The first time we went to Norwich, it was to visit my Dad, step mum and brother in their new house. It wasn’t recent, as they had move at least 10 months before, so we were fairly late with checking it out and visiting, but we finally had some time for a long weekend in a cold November.

We didn’t want to fly this time, and seeing as we still had access to a car we booked the Stena Lines boat from Hoek van Holland to Harwich. On the day of the sailing it was all a bit hectic! We left our house rather late and it was a lot busier than expected on route. The boat was set to depart at 13:15 and we were not yet on it!! Racing around the last roads and silly roundabouts, Lennart put his foot down to race for the boat. My phone started ringing and it was Stena Lines asking if we were going to make it or not as they willing to wait for us. I told them we were about 5 minutes away but it was more like 15! Thinking back we know it was rather dangerous, but if we weren’t speeding then we wouldn’t have made it! We got to the border security to check our passports and tickets but they waved us to go straight onto the back of the boat as there was no time, they were seriously waiting on us. There was some dodgy looks from the staff on the boat, as they were instantly raising the drive on part of the ship, but we were so grateful that they waited for us in our little car. What an exciting start we had to our long weekend away. Plus they never did check our passports or tickets.

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Reaching England we were very excited! Firstly because we would be driving our little Dutch car on the left of the road, secondly because it felt like I was already home in the country I know so much about, but thirdly because within a few hours of driving from Harwich we would be parked on the driveway of my family’s new home. Seeing as we were the very last car on the ship in Holland, we ended up as the first off in England.

Arriving at my parent’s driveway and tooting the car horn, the front door was opened and I saw my dad and their new dog Murphy greet us, followed by my step mum and brother. Bringing our suitcase inside from the rain and also a box of delicious Dutch treats we brought with us, we all went through to the front room. The plan for the weekend was to catch up and enjoy each other’s company, and of course we got to check out the area they now lived in.

During the weekend we had a tour of the city centre, checking out some of the shops and grabbed some warm lunch in the main shopping centre. It wasn’t snowing but it sure was cold outside! Just like all cities, shopping on a Saturday is crazy. So many people were already shopping for their Christmas gifts and checking out the deals. It’s a very pretty city with lots of unique shops as well as the big chains.

For a walk we went to the grounds of the Blickling Hall, a beautiful stately home built in the 15th century. We didn’t visit the inside of the hall but we have since read up the history of Anne Bolyen living here and how she apparently haunts the estate since her beheading from King Henry VIII. The grounds were massive, and also welcoming for walking dogs there. The rain was only just holding off for us so we decided not to take the longest route, but a route that would end up with us back where we parked the car.

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On Sunday we headed out for a walk to the beach. My dad drove us to Wells-on-Sea, in the north of Norfolk. It was cold, it was windy, but it was dry and great conditions for a winter walk along the beach. Murphy had a blast running over the sand and hiding in the small dunes. Afterwards we got back in the car and stopped by a local fish and chip shop. So delicious to dig into the warm chips covered in salt and vinegar that I hadn’t eaten in what felt like years. Mmm makes my mouth water just thinking about it! In the Netherlands it’s strange to put vinegar on your chips, and I have come accustomed to their chips with mayonnaise. It was a nice beach and little town to walk in and the sea air definitely helped us sleep well that night!

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It was really lovely to spend time with them all again after such a long time. Before we left we gave the gift that we bought for my brother, a Norwich football team scarf. Since moving there he has become a local fan and has been to a few games too. It’s always hard to say goodbye, but we were looking forward to the journey home, and planned our timing better to not miss the boat back to Hoek van Holland.

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“Missing someone gets easier every day because even though you are one day further from the last time you saw them, you are one day closer to the next time you will”

Second Visit – December 2014

The second time was for the Christmas period. It was a bit of a squeeze getting everyone into the front room. Both my Dad’s parents and my step mum’s parents had moved to Norwich by this time, so they were there, my step sister, her boyfriend and their dog Alfie were also visiting for Christmas from the Isle of Wight, and lastly my step mum’s brother and his fiancé were there. The house was full for Christmas & dinner.

It was such a great time to spend Christmas with all the family, sharing out gifts with each other, eating (too many!) sweets out from the typical sweet tins and drinking a new type of alcoholic beverage!

One of the best things I love is that my step mum makes the most delicious roast potatoes there can be, and I literally stuffed my face full with them when she presented them for the christmas dinner. She did amazing with cooking for 14 people!! We did it buffet style as we definitely wouldn’t of fit around the table. This really was one of those moments of gezelligheid.

During this visit we stayed at my dad’s parents house. They are renting a lovely little house with a garden since moving back from France. My grandparents haven’t given up their travelling yet though, as they are taking their camper back to France and Spain yearly.

We did some more shopping in the city centre and a few more walks around the area. My grandparents took us to Sheringham and Cromer, in the northern part of Norfolk. The sun was shining but we had our winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves ready! As soon as we opened the car doors we were hit by the cold winds coming from the sea. Our plan was to walk down the cliff hill path, towards the Cromer pier that was being battered by the waves, and back round to the car via a café for a warm drink. Many people seemed to have the same idea, as we were lucky to find a place for 4 to sit down in the warm. With hot chocolates all round we were blessed to be spending time with my grandparents.

Both places had lovely little shops full of books or antiques, locals selling jewellery and a few little cafés for a drink and a slice of cake. Check out the photo below of the height of the door from the book shop we found, my granddad just fitted but Lennart preferred to stay outside to not get knocked out or get a stiff neck. We also managed to see one of the steam trains leaving the station from Sheringham. Definitely not something you see in the Netherlands!

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The couple of days flew past and we were already heading back to the airport, with thanks to my Dad and granddad for driving us. It was lovely to catch up with all the family. We are not sure when we will be back in Norwich, but we can’t wait to see all the family again at my sisters wedding on the Isle of Wight in August 2016!