About The Monk and the Merchant Walk
The Monk and the Merchant Walk begins on the southern coast of the Isle of Wight. This is a beautiful walk with lots of history and breathtaking panoramic views.
We started this walk at the Blackgang viewpoint car park. You can find a map for the start of the walk here. Or the grid ref is SZ491767.
This walk has a moderate difficulty level and spans 4.8 miles (8km). We did this walk in 3 hours but it should take most people 2 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete. It took us longer since it was very wet and muddy on the day we went out.
St Catherine’s Down
The beginning of The Monk and the Merchant Walk takes you through a kissing gate and up a steep path. This coastal path leads you to St Catherines Down, where there are fantastic views out to sea (over Compton Bay to Tennyson Down and beyond). We took a moment of reflection after reaching the top of the downs to admire this landscape.
The Hoy Monument
The path continues on to lead you to The Hoy Monument. This monument has been built from local stone and is referred to as the Alexandrian Pillar (72ft high). A successful Russian merchant, Michael Hoy, built this monument in preparation of Tsar Alexander I’s visit to England in 1814.
The above video includes the beginning part of the walk – car park, St Catherines Down, St Catherine’s Oratory and The Hoy Monument. The walk goes beyond this point but the video gives you a good idea of the start of walk and where the car-park is located.
The next part of The Monk and the Merchant Walk takes you by the wall of The Hermitage, a Bed and Breakfast off of Cliff Road. You are then taken through a footpath which leads you to a stream along a tree-lined track. (We did some adventurous stream trekking since the path became part of the stream due to some heavy rain the day before.)
The walk then takes you back up the slopes where you started, past St Catherine’s Oratory and back down to the car park.
St Catherine’s Oratory
Known locally as the ‘Pepperpot’, St Catherine’s Oratory dates back to 1313. The Lord of the Manor of Chale was fined and punished for receiving a cargo of white wine from a ship on Chale Bay. He was ordered to pay for a monk to tend to this lighthouse and offer prayers to those at sea. The Oratory worked as a lighthouse until the 16th century when it eventually fell into disrepair.
The above video gives an aerial view of the landscape and St Catherine’s Oratory on St Catherine’s Down.
Best Parts of The Monk and The Merchant Walk
- Stunning panoramic views out to sea and across the downs
- Learning the history behind St Catherine’s Oratory and the Hoy Monument
- Remembering how much fun it is to get muddy now and again (you will be fine on a dry day!)
Walk & Route Details
You can find more detailed instructions about The Monk and The Merchant Walk on the National Trust website found here.
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