About three years ago, we completed the Ventnor to Steephill Cove walk with a rabble including six adults and six children. It was a foul day with sideways rain, despite it being July. As mentioned previously, we scrabbled around in the car for extra clothes to keep warm. I wore a life jacket under my coat, my sister-in-law wore a picnic blanket.
Last week, we returned to give the Ventnor to Steephill Cove walk another go. Even in howling winds, I could tell that it was one of the best sections of the Isle of Wight coastal path so a return was necessary.
On this occasion, the weather was reasonable but not exactly stunning. It had rained for the previous two days and everywhere was soggy and grey.
There are two ways to attempt this short walk.
The simplest option is to park at La Falaise car park in Ventnor. It's a pay and display car park but I happily coughed up beaucoup d'argent since we were travelling with young children (see our guide to free and cheap parking for alternatives).
Plan B is to park on the road near to Steephill Cove or at Ventnor Botanic Gardens. This adds an extra 10 minutes onto the walk and requires you navigate a long set of steps or a slope. On the plus side, there's a bigger choice of places to eat in Ventnor, which is the halfway point.
The walk is dog friendly, but you need to have your dog on a lead at peak times at Steephill Cove. We have completed it with a pushchair before but it resulted in a lot of huffing, puffing and a little bit of fruity language. It's not a wheelchair friendly walks (try Ventnor to Bonchurch, Gurnard to Cowes or Totland to Colwell if that's what you want).
We had journeyed about 50 metres from La Falaise car park when child two requested that we bring her Micro scooter, after seeing two other children whooshing past.
Mrs Guru and I exchanged glances, trying to figure out what the other person's opinion was without showing any weakness in our position to child two.
We concluded that it probably was acceptable and we returned for the scooter.
The walk is appealing because it has constant sea views. There are several sections with significant cliffs without barriers. For this reason, it's not suitable for those inexplicably relaxed parents who can get deep into a conversation with another parent and misplace their children on a walk. I am not one of these parents.
Unlike the Ventnor to Bonchurch walk (in the opposite direction), the Ventnor to Steephill Walk is full of ups and downs. There are steep slopes, lots of steps and several sections which you feel like you are inside Blackgang Chine's Crooked House.
For this reason, the scooter was probably a bad idea. I spent most of the time stopping child two from flying down steep inclines which were pointed at the cliff edges.
The route is about one mile in each direction but there are some distractions along the way which make it more of an amble than a march. We stopped at the Diplodocus Labyrinth which is a bit like a maze but without a choice of routes and without any walls (Ed: so, it's not really much like a maze at all then?).
We also stopped at the stepping stones which are looking good after some work by the Ventnor Enhancement Fund volunteers.
We reached Steephill Cove after about half an hour.
Broadsheet newspaper journalists like to call Steephill Cove a 'hidden gem', presumably because it doesn't have a great big car park and requires a bit of a walk to reach it. However, it's a favourite of many Islanders and visitors so is not the place to avoid people (see this guide for genuinely isolated beaches on the Isle of Wight).
During the summer, Steephill Cove has a café, a small shop, kayak hire and several self catering accommodation cottages. On our visit in January, everything was closed so we had brought hot chocolate in a flask to satisfy the children.
If it's low tide, Steephill Cove is quite a good beach for rockpooling. It's also nice for a swim, although it does occasionally get overwhelmed with seaweed which makes you look like the Creature From The Black Lagoon as you exit the water.
After a few minutes larking around on the beach, we headed back towards Ventnor. If you want a truly circular walk, then you will want to head to the main road from Steephill Cove and walk past Ventnor Park.
However, this is a much less attractive route. My advice is to head back the way you came as the view is very different in the other direction.
One other thing to mention is that there is a Treasure Trail which follows this walk. You pay about £10 for a set of clues and then look out for things along the way to crack the case. We used the clues during our wet and windy walk about three years ago. It kept the children distracted from the fact that they were soaking wet.
Isle of Wight Guru's Blog