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Things to see and do at Bembridge and Culver Downs

Winter sunshine over still waters in Sandown Bay seen from just above the beach at Yaverland
The beach below Culver Cliff has some lovely views across Sandown Bay to the Ventnor Downs | © National Trust / Chuck Eccleston ARPS

Adventurers of all ages will find something to keep them occupied on Bembridge and Culver Downs, no matter the time of year. Whether you're cycling, enjoying a stroll with your dog, spotting local wildlife, flying kites or simply enjoying a picnic, there are sea views and plenty of space in which to relax and unwind.

Natural wonders and human history

Soak up the views

Follow walking trails to experience acres of open downland and sweeping coastal views to the south, over Sandown and Shanklin, and to the north, over Bembridge Harbour to the Solent and the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth

A fine military vantage point

From the Napoleonic Bembridge Fort to the Second World War, Bembridge and Culver Downs have long been used for military purposes.

The coastguard cottages remain, but can you spot the remnants of one of Britain's first radar stations?

Walk your dog on the Downs

With several car parks, lots of space and views on all sides, there's plenty of space for a game of fetch with your four-legged friend.

The best picnic spots

Pack a picnic for high on the downs and enjoy lunch with some of the best views possible; park your car near Bembridge Fort and picnic near the topograph, which points out places of interest.

Alternatively, drive further along to Culver Battery and have a picnic while watching the ships at the entrance to the Solent.

Below Culver at Yaverland beach you'll also find soft, golden sands to place your rug on.

A close-up of a kestrel perched on a fence post looking over its shoulder
Kestrel seen at Bembridge and Culver Downs, Isle of Wight | © National Trust Images / Rob Skinner

Wildlife on the downs

Watch the birds

Bembridge and Culver Downs offer excellent opportunities for birdwatching, as seabirds hug the coast while buzzards, kestrels and peregrines hunt along the cliffs.

Spot butterflies

The chalk soils of Bembridge and Culver Downs provide an ideal habitat for blue butterflies. Keep an eye out for the chalkhill, common, small and Adonis blues flitting about among the grasses and flowers.

Spot wild flowers

Parts of Bembridge and Culver Downs support a range of chalk grassland flowers such as thyme, bee orchids and the eye-catching bird's-foot trefoil that covers the downs in a carpet of yellow at certain times of the year.

Fun for the kids


Geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt designed for slightly older adventurers. All you'll need is a smartphone and your best detective skills.

There are many geocache sites on National Trust land on the Isle of Wight, and quite a few hidden up here on the downs. Can you find them?

Fly a kite

You may see gliders flying over Culver Down from the nearby Bembridge airport because the updraughts are particularly good here; for the same reason, it’s a good spot for kite flying.

Alternatively, head down to the beach where you can run along the sands as you try to launch your kite skywards.

Boy jumping the waves in spring at Wembury beach, Devon
Wave jumping on Yaverland beach below Bembridge and Culver Downs, Isle of Wight. | © National Trust Images/Megan Taylor

Jump over waves

We only look after a little bit of Yaverland beach below Culver, but it has soft, shelving sands that make it a safe place for beach adventurers of all ages to try jumping over waves, swimming and even surfing.


It’s quite a walk along Yaverland beach, but at the far end of it you’ll find craggy rock pools home to all sorts of strange, tiny creatures left behind as the tide heads out to sea. Carefully lift aside any slimy seaweed and rocks and you might find miniature crabs, tiny fish and colourful sea anemones.

Bembridge Fort and Downs, Isle of Wight

Discover more at Bembridge Fort and Culver Down

Find out when Bembridge Fort and Culver Down is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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Bembridge Fort and Culver Downs, Isle of Wight

History of Bembridge Fort 

Find out more about this Victorian fort that was called into action in both World Wars then left abandoned, including why it was built where it was.

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Try out the ‘50 things to do before you’re 11¾’ activities children can enjoy by the sea, from paddling or swimming, to catching crabs and skimming stones.

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Coast and beaches 

Discover the 780 miles of beautiful coastline in our care. Plan your next coastal adventure, whether you want to explore soft, sandy beaches or rugged, windswept cliffs.

Looking west from the sandy beach at Compton Bay on the Isle of Wight, with white cliffs, Tennyson Down and Afton Down, divided by Freshwater Bay, in the distance

Coast and beaches on the Isle of Wight 

Explore the dramatic coastline of the Isle of Wight, with its magnificent beaches and cliff-top walks offering open views and beautiful wildflowers.

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Countryside and woodland on the Isle of Wight 

Discover more than 5,000 acres of countryside on the Isle of Wight, from rolling downs and magical woods to a National Nature Reserve, with plentiful wildlife-spotting opportunities.

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