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Breezy Bembridge

Follow the coast path to Culver Cliff and visit the island's only windmill.

Distance 6 miles (9.7km)

Minimum time 2hrs 45min

Ascent/gradient 410ft (125m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Coastal and field paths, some road, pebbly beach, 3 stiles

Landscape Coastal cliffs and shoreline, and chalk downland

Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 29 Isle of Wight

Start/finish SZ 657880

Dog friendliness Keep dogs under control, can run free on Culver Down

Parking Bembridge pay-and-display car park

Public toilets Beside car park and Bembridge Harbour

1 Walk to the sea wall, turn right and soon follow the coast path inland. Cross the drive to the Bembridge Coast Hotel, the fenced path leading to a track. Turn left to a road, then turn right and take the second road (Beechfield Road) left. At the end, follow the coast path right, pass in front of the coastguard station and keep left of the Crab and Lobster. Keep to the coast, passing steps down to the beach and the Cabin Café, to a junction of paths. Turn left, then bear right and pass through woodland. Soon skirt the grounds to Bembridge School before descending steps into woodland.

2 Pass in front of Whitecliff Bay and Sandhills Holiday Parks and continue round Whitecliff Bay. Follow the coast path left alongside some wooden chalets, then climb a chalky path on to Culver Down. Cross a stile and head towards the Yarborough Monument and the Culver Haven Inn.

3 With your back to the monument, head down the slope between bushes to reach a stony path. Turn left and descend steeply to an old quarry, bearing right to a stile. Head across the field to a further stile and metalled track. Keep straight ahead, pass Glovers Farm and continue to a road junction. Turn right for 100 yds (91m) and turn left along a narrow lane. At the B3395, opposite Bembridge Airport, cross over and turn right. Descend and take the bridleway left, signed to Bembridge Windmill. Continue through woodland, then follow the track uphill to the windmill.

4 At the lane, bear left into Bembridge. In ½ mile (800m), take the footpath left, signed to the Point. Descend and bear right, soon to join a track leading to the B3395 at Bembridge Harbour. Cross straight over into Pump Lane and follow the coast path sign. Pass houses to a track and turn left, then right on to a narrow path through woodland and down to the beach. Head towards the lifeboat station along the shoreline, eventually reaching steps on to the sea wall and walk back to the car park. To avoid the beach, follow drives or pathways running parallel to the shore back to the car park.

Bembridge is almost a place apart on the island's most easterly headland. Formerly a rough fishing and smuggling hamlet, it was transformed by a few wealthy Victorians into a fashionable resort with hotels and holiday villas in their own grounds. Centred around its attractive and tranquil small harbour, dotted with colourful boats and popular with visiting yachtsmen, Bembridge remains an affluent resort village.

Bembridge Windmill, built in 1700, is the last surviving windmill on the island. It is a fascinating piece of 17th-century industrial archaeology and you will find much of the original wooden machinery, including the sails, still intact. View various artefacts on three floors and savour the spectacular views from the top floor.

If you are interested in John Ruskin, the famous painter and art critic, why not arrange a visit to Bembridge School. Here you can view a collection of paintings and manuscripts collected by Howard Whitehouse, a friend of Ruskin's and the founder of the school.

The monument on top of Culver Down is dedicated to Lord Yarborough who founded the Royal Yacht Club, the first of its kind, in 1815. It was later renamed The Royal Yacht Squadron and has its headquaters in Cowes. Algernon Swinburne, the great Victorian poet, who lived at Bonchurch, knew and loved Culver Down, often seeking inspiration here. He once climbed its precipitous cliff!

While you're there

Visit the Shipwreck and Maritime Museum in Bembridge. Fascinating collections, spread over six galleries, illustrate the maritime history of the island, including artefacts recovered from shipwrecks, antique diving equipment, and Spanish 'pieces of eight'. On certain days you can enjoy a guided tour of the Lifeboat Station at the end of the long jetty by the start point car park.

What to look for

From the top of Culver Down you have magnificent views over the south east corner of the island, across Bembridge Harbour towards the Spithead Forts and Portsmouth. To the west the view takes in the whole sweep of Sandown Bay and inland along the ridge of chalk downland.

Where to eat and drink

There are various cafés along the way, notably at Bembridge Harbour, by the Lifeboat Station and beside the beach close to Foreland. The pub on Culver Down has good views. The Pilot Boat at Bembridge Harbour and the Crab and Lobster serve good fresh fish, the latter also having sea views.


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