This walk involves a pleasant stroll eastwards from Yarmouth along the northwestern coast of the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately the Solent is out of view for most of the time as the path clings inland of the coast for long periods, before skirting the western edge of the Newtown River to Shalfleet.
3 hours 4 minutes
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 ferry landing in Yarmouth. Turn left out of the ferry terminal and head east along Quay Street. When Pier Street is reached opposite The Bugle Inn, turn right and then take the first road off to the left, the High Street. Follow the High Street eastwards for a fifth of a mile; after the last house on the left, turn left to join the promenade.
Follow the promenade eastwards for a third of a mile; when a patch of scrubland is reached at ST363897, turn right to ascend some steps up onto the A3054 road. Turn left and follow this road as it curves eastwards through Bouldnor for about half a mile; the pavement soon ends, but the verges are wide enough to allow you to safely walk along them. At SZ371897 turn left down an unsurfaced track called Victoria Road.
This soon ends at the coast. Turn right to join a footpath that starts heading eastwards through woodland along the top of the cliffs; due to erosion it is best to be careful and follow the obvious paths and keep away from the edge. It soon descends to meet the foreshore before climbing up once more, slowly ascending with the remains of a concrete bunker - part of a battery - up the hill to the right, which might be obscured by trees. The path becomes easy to follow as it runs along the top of the cliffs, although they descend down to disturbed landslips rather than the sea.
Eventually it emerges from the woodland at SZ387905. A path heads eastwards with a hedge on the left; it soon curves to the left to meet a track called West Close. Turn right and start following this eastwards; when a junction is reached turn left to head northeastwards along Cranmore Avenue for about a fifth of a mile until SZ391908. Turn right down a footpath with a driveway on the left; when the driveway ends continue on along the footpath as it heads eastwards across fields.
It skirts around to the south of Hamstead Farm, keeping the hedge on the left. Before another hedge is reached turn right to head eastwards with a hedge on the right. Continue roughly in the same direction across three fields until a track is reached at SZ398911. Head down this track northeastwards towards Hamstead Farm; keep the majority of the farm buildings on the right. Immediately after the farm, turn left down another track. This heads northeastwards, descending to meet the edge of the cliff and after half a mile reaches the foreshore by Hamstead Ledge.
Continue eastwards along the foreshore, passing Hamstead Point. At SZ408919 turn right up some steps and take a footpath that head south across a field, with a hedge on the left. It then continues across an area of marshland for a short distance before climbing up into another field. Head southeastwards across this field with the marshland a short distance away to the left. When a hedge is reached pass through it, then turn right to head south with the hedge on the right.
This emerges onto the edge of some more marshland at SZ411913. A set of boardwalks carries the path south along the edge of the marshland, before turning sharply to the left to head eastwards along the southern edge. The boardwalk soon ends and a muddy path continues on; this can be slippery after wet weather. It is a relief when the path turns to the right to enter a field, then turns left to follow a hedge on the left eastwards until it ends at a track at SZ414912, with a jetty a short distance away to the left.
Turn right and follow this track as it heads southwestwards, passing Lower Hamstead Farm on the left. After a quarter of a mile the track curves to take a more westerly course, and after further three-quarters of a mile it ends at a junction with another track at SZ400903. Turn left and follow the track southwards for a little over half a mile; it descends to cross Ningwood Lake.
Shortly after this the track starts to climb and curves to the right; as it does so take a footpath that heads off to the left, entering the trees. It soon descends to meet a footbridge over a stream; cross this and enter a field. Keep the hedge on the left as you head eastwards; at the corner of the field turn right and follow the hedge southwards until a stile is reached. Cross this stile to gain access to the A3054 road at SZ405892.
Turn left and started following this road eastwards for half a mile. Again there is no pavement, but the verge is wide enough to allow you to keep away from the traffic. The road enters Shalfleet; shortly after the church on the right turn left to reach the New Inn, where this leg ends.
Places of interest
Yarmouth and Yarmouth Castle
The town of Yarmouth was granted the first royal town charter on the Isle of Wight in 1135. It nestles at the mouth of the River Yar (as there are two Yar's on the small island, this one is known as the ‘western’ Yar).
Several sackings by the French led Henry VIII to construct Yarmouth Castle in 1547. This is in the care of English Heritage, although it is rather dominated by the ferry terminal and pier that lie on either side. The castle secured the town and led to the wonderful mix of buildings that stand around the High Street.
location UID #34
As the sole remaining fully wooden pier in the UK, Yarmouth Pier is a unique structure. At 700 feet long it grants good views along the Solent and across to the mainland UK. It was opened in 1876, and a passenger ferry service operated to it from Lymington until the 1960s. Eventually the adjacent vehicle ferry took over the passenger services, and it is now mainly a promenade pier. A small fee allows you to stroll across the water.
It was threatened with demolition in the 1980s, but a renovation program was started that included people buying individual planks to raise funds.
location UID #35
Shalfleet, the Newtown River and Newtown
The Newtown River is an expansive flooded river valley on the northern coast of the Isle of Wight. It is a fairly remote area, with only two small villages bordering the river. The northeastern side of the river is inaccessible due to the presence of an army firing range.
Shalfleet is a small village situated on the A3054 at the first crossing point of the Newtown River. It has a lively pub and a church with a massive square tower.
Newtown is a little hamlet - scarcely more than a collection of houses - on a promontory on the eastern side of the river. It is dominated by a large and impressive building standing beside on its own beside the road. This is the Old Town Hall, a superb building of red brick with stone dressings that was built around 1699. It is now in the care of the National Trust.
Although a tiny place nowadays with no facilities, it was once an important port called Francheville; in 1344 it was twice the value of Newport, which is now the island’s capital. Unfortunately it was occasionally sacked, and a particularly bad raid in 1377 led to much of the town being burnt. By 1559 it had declined, but that did not stop it returning two MPs from 1584 until the Great Reform Act in 1832.
location UID #36
The half-hourly Southern Vectis Route 7 service runs between Alum Bay and Newport, calling at Yarmouth and Shalfleet on the way.