Walking

Walking trail

Fine Fortifications trail

Walking trail

Although peaceful today, Bembridge and Culver Downs were once a scene of much military activity. We suggest you book a visit to Bembridge Fort on a Tuesday then afterwards follow this easy and fairly flat walk along the top of the downs to gain a fascinating insight into the Isle of Wight’s role in wartime defence and intelligence. Otherwise inspect the fort from the outside, since it is not open to the public. The walk is suitable for most wheelchairs and offers spectacular views over Sandown Bay, Whitecliff Bay and Brading Haven.

The ancient beacon site on Culver Down is used again, for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

Map

Bembridge And Culver Downs Fine Fortifications Trail Map

Elevation

Fine Fortifications Elevation Profile

Start:

National Trust car park at Bembridge Fort, grid ref: SZ625859

1

From the car park, return to Bembridge Fort by following the road. Note that the Fort is open for pre-booked tours only since it is not open to the public. We offer guided tours every Tuesday from April to October. Additional weekday tours for groups of 10 plus may be possible on request. Please call 01983 741020 to book, or email ‘isleofwight@nationaltrust.org.uk’. The tour is free to National Trust members and chargeable to non-members, but it is well worth it.

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Bembridge Fort entrance, open for guided tours during the summer months

2

On leaving the Fort, turn left in the direction of the car park, but follow the grassy path running alongside the road on its left as far as you can. At the field boundary the path cuts through the hedge back onto the road. Cross straight over the road, go through the opposite hedge and turn left, following the grassy path which runs parallel to the road on its right. This path rejoins the road at a cattle grid just before the Culver Haven Inn. Go through the gate to the side of the cattle grid and follow the tarmac road past the inn to the car park marking the site of the old signal station, where there is an interpretation panel.

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1940s photograph of the signal station on Culver Down on the east of the Isle of Wight

3

Continue along the road to the start of the one-way system and follow it left, down to the car park with views to Whitecliff Bay and Brading Haven. Proceed on to Culver Battery where there is another interpretation panel.

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Culver Battery helped to protect the Solent approaches and Portsmouth

4

Continue along the road to meet the outward route. Retrace your steps along the road past the inn, noting the War Department boundary stones and perhaps some rusting metal rings set in concrete which used to support the war-time radar masts.

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Marker posts, chains and radar mast foundations are still visible on Culver Down

5

Go through the gate alongside the cattle grid then leave the road on the left and follow the grassy ridge-top path that you came along, keeping the hedge and the road on your immediate right. Don’t cross the road this time but continue directly ahead and back to the car park.

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Sandown Bay sparkles in the sunshine as seen from near Bembridge Fort on the Isle of Wight

End:

National Trust car park at Bembridge Fort, grid ref: SZ625859

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Fine Fortifications trail

Terrain

Download a GPX file of the trail here for your smartphone or GPS.

This is a circular walk with:

  • Gates=2
  • Kissing gates=0
  • Stiles=0
  • Steps=0
  • Bridges=0
This is a mostly flat walk with one gate on the route and the paths are all grassy or tarmac. It is suitable for most powered wheelchairs and push chairs, but in wet seasons we suggest you use the road rather than the paths or take the car to the car park at Culver Battery.
 
Dogs are always welcome, but please keep them on a lead around wildlife and livestock, and take any dog waste home with you.

 

Fine Fortifications trail

Contact us

Fine Fortifications trail

How to get here

Address
National Trust car park at Bembridge Fort, Culver Down Road, Sandown, Isle of Wight, grid ref: SZ625859. The nearest postcode is PO36 8QY.
By road
Bembridge Fort is on Culver Down road, which leaves the B3395 Sandown/Brading to Bembridge road to the east, close to Yaverland. The Fort is at the top of the hill. Use the free National Trust car park in the field on the right just after Bembridge Fort.
By foot
The Isle of Wight coastal path meets this trail at the road close to the Yarborough Monument.
By ferry

Portsmouth-Fishbourne (Wightlink, tel: 0871 376 1000) 10 miles (16km); Southampton-East Cowes (Red Funnel, tel: 0844 844 9988) 13 miles (21km). Bembridge harbour 5 miles (8km) away has moorings for private boats.

By bus

The Southern Vectis (01983 827000) hourly No. 8 service linking Newport, Ryde and Sandown passes along the B3395, about 0.5 mile (0.8km) from the walk start.

By bicycle
'Round the Island' Sustrans Regional Route 67 follows the B3395, about 0.5 miles (0.8km) from the start.
Fine Fortifications trail

Facilities and access

  • Free parking on Culver Down
  • Refreshments available at the Culver Haven Inn or seasonal cafe opposite the Yarborough monument
  • No public toilets on the route
  • Dogs are welcome, but please take dog waste home since no bins are provided