The village of St Helens on the Isle of Wight and the beaches and dunes nearby are not only delightful places to visit, but are also ones of considerable historic interest. For tourists, nature lovers or those who just like to take a stroll, there are plenty of footpaths and conservation areas. There are rockpools and a tidal millpond with an enormous variety of birds, and there is even an opportunity to walk in the footsteps of one of St Helen's 19th-century celebrities - Sophie Dawes, the young woman who would become Baronne de Feuchères, and whose birthplace is marked by a blue plaque on a cottage wall by the village green.
Naturally, the area has changed over the decades since Sophie's childhood - but really not that much. The places you can visit on the trail presented here are those that she would have known and would still recognize today. From the spectacular seamark and causeway, to the dramatic landscape of St Helen's Duver - everywhere there are echoes from the past and fascinating glimpses into history to be discovered.
The whole route, which is circular, is about three and three-quarter miles in length (just under 6 km) and should take the average walker less than two hours to complete. But it can be done faster, or alternatively just savoured in smaller, bite-sized chunks. Whatever you choose, the map here will guide you. And if you would like to learn more about the places and history of the Trail, each of the stages is described in greater detail in a small booklet (also as an eBook). Click here for information on where to buy.
Enjoy your stroll along the Sophie Dawes Trail!