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One of the island's favourite beaches and biggest expanses of open downland

Compton Bay and Downs are at the the heart of the much loved open landscape of the south west of the Isle of Wight. It has all the elements of a great day out in the countryside. There is plenty of space for families, surfing and other non-motorised water sports and a part of the beach open to dog walkers all year round. The many coloured cliffs behind the beach and the coastal views provide a wonderful backdrop as well as a fascinating geological history going back to the time of the dinosaurs.

Rising behind the coast there are great walking opportunities across acres of open downland with stunning views over West Wight. The Tennyson Trail traverses the top of the downland ridge and there are good links with the coast path and others. It is probably the best area of downland on the Isle of Wight for flowers and butterflies. This is because it has been managed in the same way for generations with a herd of galloway cattle. In fact much of the downland as we see it now has developed as it is without any tree cover from the end of the Ice Age, 10,000 years ago. This is due to its exposed position by the sea. Most other downs were covered with trees until they were gradually cleared from about 6,000 years ago by early farming communities.

ABC of the downs walk on the Isle of Wight

Galloway cattle on Compton Down © NT

Galloway cattle on Compton Down

Enjoy splendid views on this leg-stretching walk over the ridge of Afton, Brook and Compton Downs. Then follow in the steps of the dinosaurs back along the coast.

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Did you know that we own and manage more than 10% of the 23 x 15-mile Isle of Wight, including 17 miles of unspoilt coastline and many well-known beauty spots? See our ten countryside areas and four other special places.

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