The Tennyson Trail
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If you like the high ground, this trail is for you! It is one of the longer trails but the views are spectacular, and just keep getting better as you put the miles behind you.Starting from the fabulous Carisbrooke Castle, the trail ascends Bowcombe Down and sets out along the open ridge line to Newbarn Down where it enters Brighstone Forest. The trail then turn westwards and follows the side of Brighstone Down before crossing the Calbourne - Brighstone road and climbing Westover Down. You can take a short detour here to see the Longstone, reputed to be a prehistoric meeting place. From here the trail drops to cross another north-south road before a climb onto Brook Down. Look out here for the Five Barrows, ancient burial mounds, at the top of the hill just to the north of the trail.The trail now heads westwards along the ridge line with wonderful views of Freshwater Bay and Tennyson Down ahead with the Isle of Purbeck and Swanage in the distance. To the north can be seen Yarmouth with Lymington and the New Forest beyond. To the south lies the whole coastal plain from Freshwater to Niton, with the villages of Brook and Brighstone with Chale in the distance.Freshwater Bay makes an ideal refreshment stop ahead of the long steep climb to the top of Tennyson Down. Once the Tennyson Monument is reached the trail is easy along the cliff edge to the Needles at the western end of the Island. Look for the disused rocket testing site near the Needles and the fortifications built for defence of the Island. The Needles Old Battery is owned by the National Trust and has a tea room with amazing views. Entry is charged when open. An open top bus runs from here to Yarmouth.
The Needles Old Battery tea room is also open most weekends through the winter from 11am – 3pm when there is no charge to enter as the rest of the site is closed. It does provide a shelter from the elements and somewhere to get hot (and cold) refreshments – and it overlooks the Needles themselves. For people who don’t want to pay to enter, the Old Battery now has a refreshment kiosk. Unfortunately it doesn’t have a WC. The kiosk is open from 14 March – 1 November, 11am – 4pm on Saturdays & Sundays and during school holidays.
Total Distance about 15 miles (25 km).
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Maps are available for all these and other walks from the local tourist information offices.