Car-free adventures on theIsle of Wight – westHampshire

book trains

With spectacular walks and reliable public transport, it’s easy to explore the Isle of Wight on foot and by (sometimes open-topped) bus. This feature focusses on the western half of the island with great museums, literary connections and lots of wildlife.

  • County: Hampshire
  • Great for: boat rides | castles | gardens | literary connections | museums | scenic bus and train | walking |
  • Refreshments: lots of fabulous restaurants, pubs and cafes
  • Please note: researched/updated in June 2022. If anything’s changed or you have more tips to share, do get in touch:
  1. 3. Mottistone Gardens

    The grounds around an old stone manor house and derelict farmyard have been transformed into a flowering garden with subtropical plants, scented roses and banks of foxgloves.

    • Bus 12 from Freshwater to Newport stops near the gate of Mottistone Manor every couple of hours. It runs through pretty thatched villages on the way.
    • Borders at the manor are bursting orange lilies, red bottlebrush flowers, and deep blue delphiniums
    • The mysterious Longstone is just half a mile’s hike up onto the downs and the sea is a mile away in the other direction.
  1. 4. Carisbrooke Castle

    Nearly a thousand varied years of history are crammed into the sprawling grounds of Carisbrooke Castle. The ancient keep dates back to 1100, when the whole of the Isle of Wight belonged to the de Redvers family. More than five hundred years later, Charles I was imprisoned here under Cromwell. Now, there’s a new formal garden, with an avenue of fig trees, and donkeys still patiently demonstrate a wheel in the old well house that raises a bucket at timed intervals during certain days.

    • Bus 12 runs on from Mottistone Manor (or direct from Freshwater or Newport) to the village of Carisbrooke, once the island’s capital.
    • It stops near medieval St Mary’s Church and from there it’s a short walk down pretty Castle Street to visit Carisbrooke Castle. A path leads steeply up through a field of sheep to emerge near the gatehouse, where spiral stairways lead up onto the ancient walls.
  1. 5. Shalfleet and Newtown

    Newtown was also once the capital of the island. Now, it’s a little village in the saltmarsh with paths through flowering hay meadows, a waterside causeway by the estuary, a wooden walkway through marshes and a well-equipped bird hide.

    • Bus 7 from Yarmouth takes just ten minutes to reach the New Inn (food is recommended) in Shalfleet. From here, follow the Coastal Path along idyllic lanes and paths and then a much less satisfactory roadside stretch to Newtown estuary.
    • There’s a new visitor centre opposite the old brick town hall, which is subsiding gently into the clover-covered verges.
  1. Buses, bikes and places to stay

    Here’s a bit more practical info if you’re planning a staycation in West Wight


    • If you’re taking several bus rides around the island, Southern Vectis has multi-day tickets offering unlimited travel (£16.50 for 48 hours including open-toppers or £10 for 24 hours without) and you can track the buses in real time on the app.
    • You can hire bikes from Wight Cycle Hire. They have a base next to the Off the Rails café in Yarmouth, but will also deliver.
    • There are lots of places to stay in West Wight, like Yarmouth’s Bugle Coaching Inn with doubles from around £70/night or YHA Totland with private rooms from £39. The youth hostel is just five minutes’ stroll from the Christ Church bus stop on the bus 7 and Needles Breezer routes. Newport, in the middle of the island, has the biggest supply of affordable B&Bs and a Travelodge.
    • And, thanks to the great summer buses, it’s also possible to stay somewhere really rural. Tapnell Farm, two miles over the downs from Freshwater, has safari tents, wooden pods, modulogs, with sunset-facing hot tubs, and new geodesic domes with views north across the Solent. The Summer Links bus stops at the entrance to Tapnell, from Easter to October, and there are trails from the door.