When: October to May
Length: five km / three miles
Where to start: park in the National Trust car park at Brook Chine
From the car park, follow the steep path to the beach which will set the energetic tone for this walk. Turn right on the beach and you’ll notice many large stones in the sand, possibly containing the giant casts of dinosaur footprints. Notice the striking contrast in the colour of the cliffs and, around 400 steps on, enjoy a beautiful small waterfall in the centre of these.
The Isle of Wight is one of Europe’s most important pre-historic sites – and at low tide you can discover the evidence for yourselves by climbing carefully over the rocks to the petrified fossil forest at Hanover Point. Here, ‘The Thimble’, an old fortification against French invasion stands in the water. Look out for the fossil fragment of a large dinosaur in the crumbling clay cliffs.
Beyond Hanover Point turn the corner and enjoy the views across to Tennyson Down and Freshwater Bay. You have now reached the surfer’s paradise of Compton Bay.
On the beach, you’ll see a stark contrast in cliff colour, as the multicoloured clay cliffs give way to dazzling white chalk. Just before they turn white, take the steep staircase up to Compton Bay car park. Take care here as you’ll need to climb over an area of cliff subsidence – with no footpath – to reach the steps.
At the top of the steps, turn right onto Coastal Path F66 and follow this to Brook Chine, an area that offers incredible views in both directions – eastward to Hanover Point and west to East Afton Down above Freshwater Bay. The path, which is in line with the famous Military Road, leads steadily downward and there’s more evidence here of coastal erosion. Beware of the electric fence that runs along the path’s left side.
The path eventually levels out on the approach to Shippards Chine car park, where there is a useful National Trust information board about Compton and Brook Bays. Beyond the car park, you need to pass through two gates continuing the grassy coastal path. Look inland and you’ll spot the imposing Brook Hill House on the hill and from here you will be following the B598 coastal path.
Pass through another gate and down a couple of steps, over a little bridge that crosses the waterfall at the beginning of the walk. Follow the grassy path and you will arrive back at Brook Chine Car Park.
Explore the low tide fossil forest at Hanover Point.
Ice creams may be available from the mobile van at Shippards Chine car park.
Make sure you always follow the Countryside Code.
Always clean up after your dog – bag it and bin it.
Wear good walking shoes or sturdy trainers with a good grip.
Not suitable for young children or the elderly.
Not one for the summer months (June-September), when dogs are not allowed on Compton Bay beach.