Shedding light on the tip of the Wight walk

St Catherine's Point and Knowles Farm, Blackgang Road, Blackgang, Isle of Wight. Nearest postcode PO38 2JB

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A chiffchaff on the island ©

A chiffchaff on the island

St Catherine's Point and Knowles Farm, Isle of Wight © National Trust/Sue Oldham

St Catherine's Point and Knowles Farm, Isle of Wight

Old postcard views of the Undercliff before and after the landslip of 1928 © Judges and Knight

Old postcard views of the Undercliff before and after the landslip of 1928

Route overview

Discover an ever-changing landscape boasting panoramic views and a wealth of wildlife, at this most southerly point of the Isle of Wight. See the Island’s only surviving onshore lighthouse and explore the area where Marconi made some of his early experiments in radio. Some paths are very steep and slippery, so please take appropriate precautions.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route map for St Catherine's Point walk, Isle of Wight
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Car park at end of Old Blackgang Road, grid ref: SZ494758

  1. From the car park, go through the furthest kissing gate and turn left along a grassy track, keeping level and then bearing right. Walk along the top of the ridge and descend steeply to a fence straight ahead. Follow a steep, rough path downhill, with a fence on your right. Cross the stile at the bottom and follow the grassy path straight ahead. This soon bends leftwards, parallel to the sea. The lighthouse will come into view ahead. Cross a stile and follow the path in the direction of the lighthouse. Turn left at the white boundary wall and follow the wall to a gate. Go through the gate and turn left up the road.

    Show/HideThe Undercliff

    This large area of coastal landslips was formed over many hundreds of years. The benefits of such an active landscape include bare ground and temporary pools for insects and amphibians. The fact that it is ever-changing means that varied scrubby vegetation is created, providing a good habitat for migrating and breeding birds. Look out for migrating and breeding birds such as chiffchaffs and other warblers. Grazing cattle help to restore the more stable flower-rich grassland.

    A chiffchaff on the island ©
  2. After 110yds (100m) go through a gate on the right flanked by stone pillars, sign-posted NT40 to Castlehaven Lane. Keep to the top of the field with the hedge on your left, then cross through a gap in the fence, continuing in the same direction. The path rises gently and goes through a kissing gate on the left after which the path bends right.

    Show/HideKnowles Farm and St Catherine's lighthouse

    Knowles Farm is one of the few places on the Island where drystone walls mark the field boundaries. It was from here in 1901 that Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of the radiotelegraph system, succeeded in transmitting radio signals a record 186 miles (300km) to the Lizard Radio Telegraph Station in Cornwall. The concrete base of Marconis communication mast still lies in the field south of the farmhouse. The present three-tier octagonal lighthouse was completed in 1840, following the shipwreck of the Clarendon in Chale Bay. However, the tower was later lowered as its light was often shrouded in mist.

    St Catherine's Point and Knowles Farm, Isle of Wight © National Trust/Sue Oldham
  3. After 25yds (25m) the path emerges onto a road. Continue uphill and after 20yds (20m) turn left up a tarmac path with steps and handrail. You will come to a road almost opposite the Buddle Inn. Turn right onto the road for 45yds (40m) before turning left up a tarmac path, by the phone box. Take the path upwards.

  4. Turn right onto another road (watch out for traffic as there is no pavement) and at its end at a Y-junction, fork right. Cross the busy A3055 main road to a grassy area and follow the footpath on its right up Barrack Shute towards Niton village. Take the first turn on the left (which looks like a driveway, but is Boxers Lane) and follow the path gently upwards to a kissing gate. Go straight on and follow the grassy coast path along the top of the cliffs.

  5. Turn left at the signpost pointing down the steep cliff just before a seat, and descend the steep steps to the road, taking care since these can be slippery. At the road, turn right and follow it back to the car park.

    Show/HideThe Landslip

    These old postcard views of the Undercliff show Windy Corner before (left) and after (right) the landslip of 1928. 20,000 tons of falling rock destroyed the Niton to Chale road and landslips continue in this area today. Peregrine, raven and fulmar today nest on Gore Cliff above The Landslip.

    Old postcard views of the Undercliff before and after the landslip of 1928 © Judges and Knight

End: Car park at end of Old Blackgang Road, grid ref: SZ494758

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.75 miles (4.6km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: Landranger 196; Explorer OL29
  • Terrain:

    This short but challenging circular walk is very steep in places (ascent of 520ft (160m)), with steps at some points and many stiles. Seats are available at viewpoints. Dogs are very welcome, but please keep your dog on a lead around wildlife and take any mess home with you.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: This trail follows the Isle of Wight coastal path between Niton and point 5 on the map

    By bike: Sustrans 'Round the Island' regional route 67 passes along the A3055 and through Niton

    By bus: Southern Vectis (tel: 01983 827000) No. 6 service from Newport to Ventnor passes though Niton, two-hourly

    By ferry: Fishbourne-Portsmouth (Wightlink, tel: 0871 376 1000) 14 miles (23km); East Cowes-Southampton (Red Funnel, tel: 0844 844 9988) 15 miles (24km)

    By car: National Trust car park on the old Blackgang Road, a minor road now a cul-de-sac near St Catherine's lighthouse off the A3055 in Niton undercliff

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