Hampshire walk on the Isle of Wight around Brighstone and Mottistone

PUBLISHED: 11:42 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:53 30 October 2020

Well waymarked Tennyson Trail at pt 3

Well waymarked Tennyson Trail at pt 3

Fiona Barltrop

Head to the Isle of Wight to enjoy the charming villages of Brighstone and Mottistone, taking in superb views, an ancient monument and enchanting gardens with our new walks writer, Fiona Barltrop

The pretty village of Brighstone, situated in the south-west of the Isle of Wight, makes an ideal base for walkers, with an extensive network of footpaths and bridleways surrounding it. With chalk downland to the north and the sea and coastal path to the south, a variety of fine walks can be devised.

This route combines a stretch of the Tennyson Trail, which runs along the top of the chalk ridge that forms the Island’s spine, with a visit to Mottistone. The village is home to the National Trust’s Mottistone Manor and its delightful gardens: well worth a wander round. The Manor, gardens and surrounding estate – which stretches from the sea to the top of the downs – were bequeathed to the National Trust in 1963 by the 2nd Lord Mottistone. While the gardens are open from March to October, the manor is tenanted, so only open to the public two days each year. Within Mottistone Gardens is the lovely tea garden, where you can recharge your batteries before the final leg of the walk.

Mottistone takes its name from the Long Stone, in earlier times known as the Moot Stone or Meeting Stone: a large standing stone (the remains of a Neolithic long barrow) which you will pass on your way down to the village. Even if you choose not to visit the Gardens (or they are closed), you can enjoy the footpaths and bridleways through the National Trust’s Mottistone estate at any time, as you’ll experience on this walk.

For those visiting the Island without a car, there are good bus services connecting Brighstone with Yarmouth, Fishbourne and Ryde, all served by regular Wightlink crossings from the mainland. A bus service links Mottistone and Brighstone, just a 7-minute ride, if you’d prefer to omit the last section of the walk. This takes you along a very quiet lane to the lovely hamlet of Chilton Green, thence along a bridleway back to Brighstone. For a slightly longer option, you could head down to the coast from Mottistone, to incorporate a short stretch of the coastal path before returning to Brighstone.


• Start/finish: Brighstone village car park south of main road (SZ427827)

• Map: OS Explorer OL29

• Distance: 6¾ miles or 7⅓ miles – longer option for last section

• Terrain: Clear downland tracks and paths; very quiet country lane; coast path (longer option)

• Time: 3 - 3½ hours (allow longer for Mottistone Gardens)

• Refreshments: Three Bishops, Brighstone. Tea garden at Mottistone Gardens

• Public transport: Wightlink car ferries between Portsmouth & Fishbourne and Lymington & Yarmouth; passenger catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde, wightlink.co.uk. Bus service 12 via Brighstone, islandbuses.info

• Walking on the Isle of Wight: wightlink.co.uk/do/walking.

• Mottistone Gardens: nationaltrust.org.uk/mottistone-gardens

• Chilton Farm: chiltonfarm.co.uk

The walk

1 (SZ427827) - From the car park walk back up the lane to the main road (B3399) – on the right is the Three Bishops pub, so named because three of Brighstone’s past rectors later became bishops. Turn left and then right along North Street. The picturesque thatched cottages include a free museum, well worth a look inside. At the T-junction cross the road and continue up the track opposite which ascends the downs. Note the Island’s waymarking which is unique: every right of way is allocated a number prefixed by the initial letters of the parish through which it passes, so this bridleway, BS81, is path 81 in the parish of Brighstone. Stay on the bridleway bearing right and continuing up and across open downland to a junction where you bear left. Ignore the next bridleway on your left, then turn sharp right and then sharp left which will bring you to the top of the chalk ridge. A short distance to your right is the Limerstone Down viewpoint. The views from here are some of the best on the Island. In the distance to the west you can see the chalk cliffs of Tennsyon Down.

2 (SZ437838) - Turn round and head along the ridge-top track, which here is part of another of the Island’s trails, the Worsley Trail. Before long the Tennyson Trail joins from the right. Carry on down beside Brighstone Forest to the road. Turn right, then left through a car park and on up Mottistone Down. Carry on downhill for 500m.

3 (SZ402850) – When you reach a Tennyson Trail signpost (Brook Down ahead, Lynch Lane the way you’ve come) you should spot another signpost very nearby to your left. Turn back sharp left here along this bridleway heading south-east. This leads to a gate beyond which you bear left along a track to the Long Stone, a pillar of sandstone thirteen feet high, with a smaller second stone at its foot. The nearby dwelling is a National Trust holiday cottage. Also nearby is an information panel, from which it’s a brief detour up Castle Hill, the site of an Iron Age enclosure.

4 (SZ407842) – From the Long Stone leave the track and follow the footpath between banks to descend in a southerly direction (at first south-west) towards Mottistone. Maintain direction at a crossing track to continue down through woodland. Keep ahead where another path forks left (this leads to a gate into Mottistone Gardens, but you need to enter through the main entrance at the bottom).

5 (SZ405837) – As well as Mottistone Gardens, the church on the opposite side of the road is worth a look inside. Turn left along the road (or right from the church), then right down Hoxall Lane. Follow this to Chilton Green, a most attractive and peaceful location (B&B and self-catering cottages at Chilton Farm: an ideal base for this and other walks in the area). Beyond Chilton Farm turn right along a bridleway. Cross the next lane and follow the footpath back to the car park. For the alternative option from Mottistone to Chilton Green via the coast, go through the churchyard at Mottistone (or along the lane either side of the church) and continue down Ridget Lane, a byway which becomes a track, to the A3055. Cross, carry on to the coast path and turn left. Continue to where the coast path turns inland at Chilton Chine. Re-cross the main road and follow the track to Chilton Green.


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