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A sunny view from Ventnor Downs looking down through Coombe Bottom via pistol butts to the sea
Coombe Bottom and the rifle pistol butts at Ventnor bathed in the sun | © National Trust / Sue Oldham
Isle of Wight

Ventnor Downs prehistory and wartime walk

This short but challenging walk on the south side of the Isle of Wight takes in a Bronze Age burial site and reminders of the island's wartime history.

Total steps: 8

Total steps: 8

Start point

Ventnor Downs car park, grid ref: SZ565784

Step 1

In the car park, look out for the plaque commemorating the Channel Airways Dakota plane that crashed here in fog in 1962. To start your walk, turn right out of the car park and follow the road to the entrance gates for the National Air Traffic Services (NATS).

Step 2

Continue along the road by the NATS fence for 10yds (10m), then turn off close to a water trough on the left. Turn right to follow the grassy path parallel to the road. When the path divides, take the left fork. After 65yds (60m) take the faint path through the bracken on the right. It goes past a solitary tree and crosses a track before passing through gorse-covered Bronze Age burial mounds. Continue on this path as it bears right to reach an area of open land. You are now at the highest point on the Isle of Wight with public access.

Bronze Age burial barrows like these at Luccombe were placed to mark a community boundary
Bronze Age barrows on Luccombe Down | © Alan Phillips

Step 3

Walk straight across the open land towards a signpost 90yds (85m) away. After a further 80yds (75m), turn 90° right to reach a kissing gate by the corner of the NATS fence. Go through the gate.

Step 4

Follow the path immediately to the left of the NATS fence until you reach a tall mast and another kissing gate. Go through the gate.

Step 5

From here, head 40yds (40m) downhill and through another kissing gate where there's a viewpoint bench. Carry on downhill for about 190yds (175m), following the track to the right that zigzags down to the base of Coombe Bottom.

The Isle of Wight Rifles' rifle range was in Coombe Bottom, part of Ventnor Downs
The remains of the Isle of Wight Rifles pistol butts on Ventnor Downs | © National Trust / Richard Downing

Step 6

Continue along the coombe, keeping to the right. About 110yds (100m) before you reach the trees at the far end, the path divides. Take the right fork and shortly afterwards the left, staying close to a wire fence on the left.

Step 7

Continue along the path by the wire fence and go through the kissing gate and down the steps to the road. Go through another gate and turn left and left again into the industrial estate.

The brickwork of an old ammunition store still remains on Ventnor Downs
Ammunition store used by Isle Of Wight Rifles in Coombe Bottom, Ventnor Downs | © National Trust / Sue Oldham

Step 8

About 30yds (27m) along on the left is the Coastguard Rescue Station. With your back to it, you'll see the Terminus Hotel on the corner to the right. Just behind the hotel, there's a steep flight of stone steps on path V1. Take the steps up to a kissing gate at the base of the hill, then continue up the steep slope of St Boniface Down, and eventually through another kissing gate, until you reach the mast. Turn left and follow the path to the immediate left of the wire fence, taking you back to the car park by the Dakota plaque.

End point

Ventnor Downs car park, grid ref: SZ565784

Trail map

Ventnor Downs Prehistory and Wartime walk map
Ventnor Downs Prehistory and Wartime walk map | © Crown copyright and database rights 2015 Ordnance Survey

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Heather and gorse on a hillside with views down over fields at Ventnor Downs, Isle of Wight

Views of Ventnor walking trail 

Enjoy far-reaching views of the downs and the English Channel, as well as a rich blend of wildlife, on this short but challenging walk on the south side of the Isle of Wight.

DistanceMiles: 2.5 (km: 4)

Get in touch

Ventnor Downs, Wroxall, Isle of Wight, PO38 1AH

Our partners

Cotswold Outdoor

We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

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