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You are in: Hampshire > History > Historic Walks > The Tennyson Trail

Joe and Sally walking The Trail

The Tennyson Trail

BBC South's Sally Taylor and Joe McGann explored part of the Isle of Wight's spectacular coastline, following in the footsteps of one of the Island's most famous residents.

The Tennyson Trail

  • O.S Explorer map OL29
  • Landranger map 196

Having crossed on the ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth, it's a short drive to the village of Brook in the south west of the island. We walked a section of the lovely Tennyson Trail, named after Alfred Lord Tennyson, former Poet Laureate and resident of the beautiful Isle of Wight.

This is a reasonably easy walk of three or four miles and has wonderful sea views all along the route.

The whole trail is 15 miles long, from Carisbrooke Castle in Newport all the way to The Needles, but we tackled just the last leg of the walk, ending at the monument to the poet up on the magnificent cliffs.

A hedge laying competition

A hedge laying competition

At Dunsbury Farm, just west of the village, we came across a hedge laying competition, not a common occurrence, but very interesting to see.

The island is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and prides itself on preserving the older sustainable resources such as hedgerows.

It's heartening to see the beautifully kept hedges, so valuable for wildlife and flora, and plenty of examples can be seen along the walk and all across the island.

Tony Ridd, who organised the competition and has planted and restored miles of hedgerows here, is passionate about the management of the woodland and landscape of the area - involving and educating volunteers in all aspects of restoration and upkeep.

As you walk, it's easy to see and appreciate the efforts Tony and his workers make, alongside agencies like the National Trust who are responsible for the trail.

Paul Sivell's wood sculpture

Paul Sivell's wood sculpture

Walking up the footpath to the top of the hill, you can see a large, gothic house nestling in the hills. This house was once the residence of another writer, J.B. Priestley.

As we turned a corner, we saw (and heard!) Paul Sivell, as he carved away at the stump of a tree with his chain saw.

Paul is a self-taught sculptor who specialises in turning dead, damaged or fallen trees into wonderful works of art, and his work can be seen all over the island, as well as on the mainland.

At the top of the hill, the footpath itself is easily picked out as it is worn into the chalk, and you will want to take time just to stand and admire the spectacular coastline.

You will notice a collection of burial mounds just above the path, and if you walk up to these barrows, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the island and over to the mainland, Portsmouth, Southampton and the coast all the way to Poole.

Strolling westwards, across the golf course, Farringford House comes into view at the foot of Tennyson Down.

A glimpse of Tennyson?

A glimpse of Tennyson?

Now a hotel, it was here that Tennyson lived and worked, and his study has been preserved and can be seen upstairs from Reception.

When Tennyson was in residence here, his fame was so great that sightseers used to crowd the front lawns hoping for a glimpse of the great man. To escape their view, Tennyson had a bridge built from his garden out onto his beloved Downs and the bridge is still there today.

There have been many reported sightings of the ghost of the poet, and that of his wife, on the trail here and in the house itself. In fact, the Isle of Wight is said to be the most haunted island in the world…

It's a 10 minute stroll up to the Tennyson monument and the end of a very picturesque walk.

The Isle of Wight has many such walks, of various lengths and degrees of difficulty, and in May there is a Walking Festival with lots of shows and events, something for the whole family, perhaps. Enjoy…

last updated: 03/03/2008 at 09:20
created: 22/03/2005

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