Things to see and do at Compton Bay and Downs

Spend a day at one of the Isle of Wight’s favourite spots. From beach to open downland, there’s plenty of space to explore, search for fossils, spot local wildlife, surf, cycle and ride your horse.

A magnificent surfing beach

Compton Bay is the Isle of Wight's prime location for surfing and watersports, but its sandy beach and fine views over to Tennyson Down and The Needles make it ideal for just a day on the beach.

Explore on foot

Whether you want to walk bare foot in the sand or explore the miles of footpaths that criss cross our land, Compton Bay and Downs make the perfect place to go for a walk. We've put together a couple of downloadable walks to get you started.

Butterfly spotting trail

Follow our self-guided trail and walk along part of the ridge running through the middle of the Isle of Wight and you will visit one of the best sites for butterflies in the UK. Butterflying does not get any better than this.

Walking with dinosaurs

Enjoy splendid views on this leg-stretching 8-mile walk over the ridge of the downs. Then follow in the steps of the dinosaurs back along the coast.
The footpath sign ahead beckons to the chalk cliffs of Freshwater Bay

ABC of the downs walk on the Isle of Wight

Have a go at our walk taking in Afton, Brook and Compton Downs. It could take you right back to the Ice Age, and you might even be lucky enough to spot a dinosaur footcast near Hanover Point.

Dinosaur coast on the Isle of Wight

120 million years ago dinosaurs roamed the earth and you can look for their fossilised foot casts preserved in the rocks on the beach near Hanover Point.
The best place to go looking for fossils on ‘Dinosaur Island’ is on the beach at Compton Bay. Not only is it the richest source of dinosaur remains in Europe, but other interesting things can be found here too.

Wildflowers on the downs

You can stride out across the open expanse of Compton Downs and admire a profusion of downland flowers.

Play on the beach

Compton Bay has a firm sandy beach, and the tide doesn’t go out too far so it's good for swimming. It isn’t too crowded, and there are excellent views towards the Needles and Dorset beyond – perfect.

Walk your dog

Dogs love the breezy walk over the grassy downs at Compton, or racing through the tide along the beach. Although beach restrictions apply mid-May to September along Compton Beach, you can walk with your dog between Brook Chine and Hanover point all year round.
Run and play along the beach with your dog
Run and play along the beach with your dog
Run and play along the beach with your dog

Ride your horse

The bridle paths over Afton, Compton and Brook downs are great for horses, being firm under foot and with wide vistas. There are numerous car parks close by for horse boxes.

Take to two wheels

The off-road Tennyson Trail crosses our land as it passes over Afton Down, Compton Down, Brook Down and Mottistone Down. It's a wonderful chalk track along the ridge tops, but be warned that it isn't flat.
This is one of the classics for Isle of Wight cycling. But we can also offer more gentle quiet country lanes and routes to take you from ferry terminal to our places. So who needs that car?

Spot butterflies

The quarry slopes on Brook Down and Compton Coombe are the best places to spot butterflies. The chalk soils are especially rich in blue butterflies in summer. We can recommend other good places to spot butterflies on our land across the island too...
Common Blue Butterfly

Butterfly spotting on the Isle of Wight 

Providing good habitats and being slightly warmer than mainland Britain, the Isle of Wight is an ideal place to spot butterflies, and the prime butterfly sites are on land cared for by us.

Enjoy a picnic

Compton Bay beach is a favourite for many picnickers. But the cliff top overlooking the beach and high spots on the downs tend to be quieter. You're spoilt for choice on the island - try these suggestions...
A family having a picnic on the beach

Where to picnic on the Isle of Wight 

What could be a better way to get back to nature than eating outdoors with great views all around? On the Isle of Wight, we have perfect spots to do just that. So, pack a hamper full of tasty treats and plenty of ginger beer, and head to one of our places this summer for a picnic.