With undulating green hills, marshes and downs there are parts of the Isle of Wight perfectly suited to a Hobbit home, although Spike the Vizsla and his rescue fur brother Milo would flush out even the most stubborn resident. We live in the West of the Island which is largely rural and boasts extensive National Trust downland and heritage coastline. Our 5K runs often combine off road trails with on and off road routes and we like an inspiring loop to keep us motivated there and back again.
Today’s run takes us along the historic Tennyson Trail, named after Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the Victorian Poet Laureate who lived at Farringford nearby. We will be running along the most Western tip of the Isle of Wight with dramatic coastal views of the Solent and Southern England.
Drive to a car park locally known as The Chalk Pit located just up the road from popular walkers pub The Highdown in Totland. Find it on the corner of Moons Hill road and Highdown Lane, PO39 0HY.
Facing the hill take the footpath to your left, you will see a National Trust sign marking the base of the footpath we are starting on.
Our warm up involves a brisk march uphill along the steep woodland stepped path to the top of Tennyson Down and impressive Tennyson Monument.
Both Milo and Spike are off their running leash from the car park, but check for livestock once you leave the woodland and the downs open up in front of you at the top if your dogs are barkers or chasers.
At the Monument our run starts off to the right heading West towards the white cliffs and Needles landmark. Take some time to embrace the fantastic downhill start to your run and spectacular views. You can choose to follow paths on your left which are close to the cliff edge or stay on the middle route. We usually stick to the latter away from the edge although took a short left hand route today where there is fencing which helps deter straying too near to the cliffs.
I regularly recall the dogs to remind them to stay near to me.
The Tennyson Trail is a popular walking route so you are likely to encounter other dogs and people all year round.
After 1.3 km you will reach a stone marker on the middle trail.
On this mapped run we continued for a further 0.3 km then turned around.
You can continue to the Needles Battery on the western tip if you don’t
feel like stopping. I’ll include this on a 10K loop later on in the series.
The first leg of the run may be challenging for novices as it follows a gradual incline and more than likely you will be running into a headwind.
The prevailing wind direction for the Island is South Westerly so get your ear muffs out in the Winter!
On the way back once you reach the gate don’t bear right back up Tennyson Down but continue straight on downhill along a chalk path. This takes you directly back to the car park. We added a little extra once we reached the car by following the footpath ahead, where we first started, to take the route up to 5K.
5 reasons we love this route
1. The car park is free
2. There is a red dog bin in the car park
3. It’s an incredible sunrise or sunset run
4. You start with a 360 degree panoramic view of the Isle of Wight
5. The Highdown pub is dog friendly!
Be aware of
Our favourite West Wight route before we head South of the Island.
Where exactly is the Isle of Wight?!
It’s an Island just 40 by 20km (25 by 13 miles) off the South Coast of England with over 500 miles of footpaths! Follow us on Instagram @spikethevizsla and Twitter or search for #5khoundbound to follow our running journey.
Title Ref: The Hobbit, or There and Back Again. J. R. R. Tolkien