Things to see and do at St Catherine's Down and Knowles Farm
With such a varied landscape in a relatively small area, St Catherine's Down and Knowles Farm is perfect to explore by foot, bicycle or with your dog, with much to see of both scenic and historical interest. Explore some of the highlights here.
Walk the downs
Walking at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight can be truly inspiring. The area around St Catherine's is superb for walkers, with so much to see, in both historical interest and varied scenery.
Guglielmo Marconi set up an experimental station at Knowles Farm in 1900, making radio contact with the Lizard Radio Telegraph Station at Bass Point in Cornwall early the following year. The concrete base of Marconi’s communication mast still sits in the field south of the farmhouse.
Wydcombe valley nestles beneath the downs. On a walk through its woods you might be lucky enough to spot a red squirrel.
Land on the move
A landslip in 1928 caused 20,000 tons of rock to fall and destroy the Niton to Chale road. Landslips continue in this area today.
St Catherine's Oratory
Is it a chapel? Is it a lighthouse? Find out by walking the rewarding climb from Blackgang viewpoint car park to the top of St Catherine’s Hill. Known locally as the ‘Pepperpot’, we look after all that remains of the Oratory in partnership with English Heritage.
Standing proud at the northern end of St Catherine's Down and featuring in the The Monk and the Merchant walking trail, the Hoy monument was built in 1814 to celebrate the visit of Tsar Alexander I of Russia. Built of local stone, it's also known as the Alexandrian Pillar – 72ft high and capped with a distinctive ball finial. Although standing on the land in our care, the monument is owned and maintained by Chale Parish Council.
Walk with your dog
The wide-open ridge top between St Catherine's Oratory and the Hoy Monument is ideal dog-walking terrain, as is the clifftop path overlooking Knowles Farm.
Picnic with a view
St Catherine's Down is a perfect spot for a picnic. If you head to the very top of the downs there are panoramic views of the island to enjoy as you eat and drink.
The Isle of Wight’s most southerly point is close to Knowles Farm and is an excellent place for seabird watching. In the spring and autumn keen birdwatchers are able to spot migrating species in the woodland and scrub areas.
Bring your bike
If you like to cycle off-road, St Catherine's is ideal. The round-the-island cycle route (Sustrans Regional route 67) passes right by, and from Niton there are good routes up onto the down.
From shipwrecks to tsars and making waves in radio technology, St Catherine's Down and Knowles Farm has witnessed a lot throughout its history.
This rural escape has an open fire, exposed beams and views of a Victorian lighthouse to love.
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.
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.