Drivers and passengers should make their own arrangements.
Make sure everything you need for walking is accessible in the car. You should be able to get lunch at Alum Bay (The Needles Landmark Attraction), or you may prefer to bring a packed lunch.
Navigational instructions for drivers are in a printable document (see left).
If you need a coffee stop, Sutton Scotney services on the A34 is nearest to halfway, but I prefer Chieveley at the M4/A34 junction and Rownhams on the M27.
We are booked on the 1100 Wightlink ferry from Lymington to Yarmouth. It is easiest if we all make our own way to the ferry terminal at Lymington. Wightlink ask you to arrive at least 30 minutes but no more than 60 minutes before your booked time, but they are usually flexible. If you are really early, you might even be put on the previous ferry. Snacks and drinks are available on the ferry, but if there is a long queue you won’t have time to eat much.
On leaving the ferry terminal at Yarmouth, make your way to the Alum Bay car park, passing Norton Grange just after the first left turn. You have to pay on entry to park (£5 in their website which has not been updated since 2018); the National Trust handbook says you get 20% off on production of your card. There is a large café and a licensed tearoom for those who have not brought packed lunches. If you use these, please don’t keep the rest of us waiting. We would like to be walking by 1300 if possible.
After the walk, we drive to Norton Grange Holiday Village, where we hope to arrive by 1600.
The walk today is somewhat under 4 miles, but with the possibility of two shortcuts. We will start with a steady but easy ascent to the Tennyson monument at the top of the downs, where I hope you can hear Tennyson’s voice. Having retraced our steps for a bit, we will follow the high path to the Needles viewpoint. The steep descent and ascent shown on the profile are clearly a software error, but I can find no way of correcting it. At the Needles you have the option of visiting the Old Battery and New Battery, but you must book in advance. The descent to the Alum Bay car park is easy, but there is an open-top bus for the lazy. I understand bus passes are accepted on this. Click for a map and for a risk assessment of the walk.
Distance and Time Estimates
Full walk 6.1km, 3.8m (1:55 to 2.30)
Omitting Tennyson Monument 4.8km, 3.0m (1:30 to 2:00)
Omitting Needles Viewpoint 5.3km 3.3m (1:40 to 2:10)
Omitting both 4.0km 2.5m (1:15 to 1:40)