The monk and the merchant walk

Walking trail

Ships A-Hoy! A breathtaking circular walk steeped in history with spectacular panoramic views across the Island.

Explore the island on green hills great for hiking

Enjoy the views from St Catherine's Down over Compton Bay to Tennyson Down and beyond. Spot rare wildlife in Wydcombe valley and learn about the ancient grasslands and monuments on the route.

The old oratory stands like an extinct lighthouse on top of St Catherine's Down


St Catherines Down Monk And Merchant Map


Monk And Merchant Elevation Profile


Blackgang Viewpoint car park, grid ref: SZ490767, what3words: ///ignore.payback.bulbs.


From the car park, cross the road and go up the steps and through the kissing gate to follow the clear path which first goes diagonally left then straight up the hill towards the Oratory, up to a kissing gate on the skyline. Go through the gate, then immediately turn left and away from the Oratory, which we visit at the end of the trail. Follow the grassy track leading gently downhill towards Chale and the sea, following the line of the hedge on the left. Soon the path bends right, and this leads into an area with a small ridge on the left and old chalk quarries on the right. Follow a line through the valley between them and eventually reach an open area. Go straight across following the main track, and pass through the bridle gate next to a field gate straight ahead and onto St Catherine’s Down. Bearing left at first, follow the wide, grassy path to the Hoy Monument, keeping to the ridge top.

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Views over to the chalk of Tennyson Down from St Catherine's Down


Turn left and go through the gate in the fence by the plinth. Turn immediately right and downhill, then right at the T-junction signed C3. After 45yds (40m) turn right, and go through two more gates. Take a straight line across the field aiming for the right-most gate in the boundary at the right-hand edge of the tree belt, leading onto a road. On a clear day you can see Culver Down to the east and Tennyson Down to the west: the full extent of the Island.

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The tall pillar of the Hoy Monument commemorates the visit of the Czar


Turn right at the road, then left onto the path GL26 by the wall of The Hermitage. Follow the path round the copse until it reaches a track by a house. Turn left through a metal gate taking path NT78 and then through another metal gate and down a hill until you reach a junction. Turn left for 30yds (25m), then right through a gate. Keep the fence to your left and follow the path, continuing across a field on the track heading down the valley.

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We own the Wydcombe estate but not the 17th century manor house


Just before a spoil heap about 50yds (45m) before the farm/wood yard, take a path on the right, turning immediately after a marker post with yellow footpath sign. This crosses through the hedge by a footbridge and gate. Keeping the fence to your left, continue on the path bending above Wydcombe House. Go through the gate and down to a track. Turn left and follow the track as it bends left again. At the junction just past the little bridge, turn sharp right to skirt Wydcombe House on a path to the right of the driveway to the house, which soon becomes grassy. Bear right by the second and larger ornamental stone arch and after 20yds (20m) follow the path straight ahead for 15yds (15m). Then take the path which bends diagonally right downwards towards the banks of a stream. Go over the footbridge and follow the very stony tree-lined track straight ahead. When the path leaves the valley it emerges into a field by a stile. Cross through the gap in the hedges about 20yds (20m) in front, and cross the field to the top right-hand corner. Just before a pair of stiles in the bracken, take a path bearing right and follow a slowly-rising diagonal path onto Head Down.

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A steep wooded valley with clear rushing stream at Wydcome


Bear left at the top of the slope and pass between stiles on the left and right to reach another stile 20yds (20m) away. Cross this and turn right onto a level green track and eventually pass through a gate to the left of a field gate and continue onwards. After 150yds (135m) aim leftwards off the track, aiming to skirt the old quarry edge on its right and then upper edge, aiming for a gate on the skyline almost in line with the radio mast. The path is hard to distinguish on the ground, but the target gate is easily visible. Go through the gate then head straight uphill towards St Catherine's Oratory. Look at the unfinished 18th-century lighthouse base at the base of the radio mast, then go through the kissing gate by the trig point to the Oratory. Head downhill to pass through a kissing gate and follow the outward route back to Blackgang Viewpoint car park.

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St Catherine's Oratory stands proudly in the sunshine on St Catherine's Down


Blackgang Viewpoint car park, grid ref SZ490767, what3words: ///ignore.payback.bulbs.

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The monk and the merchant walk


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This walk is a:

  • Circular walk
  • Gates=11
  • Kissing gates=4
  • Stiles=4
  • Steps=45
  • Bridges=2
This walk has an ascent of 900ft (270m) and includes many stiles and gates. A high and exposed headland, can be very windy and covered by low cloud or mist, and paths can be very muddy and slippery.
Dogs are always welcome, but please keep them on a lead around wildlife and livestock, and take any dog waste home with you.


The monk and the merchant walk

Contact us

The monk and the merchant walk

How to get here

Blackgang Viewpoint car park, Blackgang Road, Blackgang, Isle of Wight. Nearest postcode is PO38 2JB, what3words: ///ignore.payback.bulbs.
By road
Blackgang Viewpoint car park is a free public car park just off the A3055 in the far south of the Isle of Wight, above but close to Blackgang Chine.
By foot
The start point of this trail at Blackgang Viewpoint car park lies on the Isle of Wight coastal path.
By ferry

Fishbourne-Portsmouth (Wightlink, tel: 0871 3761000) 15 miles (24km); East Cowes-Southampton (Red Funnel, tel: 0844 8449988) 15 miles (24km).

By bus

Southern Vectis (tel: 01983 827000) No. 6 mostly two-hourly service from Newport to Ventnor passes along the A3055. Alight at the viewpoint car park.

By bicycle

Sustrans regional 'Round the Island' route 67 passes along the A3055 by the start point at Blackgang Viewpoint car park.

The monk and the merchant walk

Facilities and access

  • Dogs are welcome, but please keep under close control and on a lead around wildlife
  • There is often a seasonal ice cream and refreshment van at Blackgang Viewpoint car park
  • There are no toilets on the route