Castle Haven

Castlehaven Village Green

Castlehaven is a small hamlet at the foot of Niton Undercliff . It has a harbour and Village Green. It is within the Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and part of the Compton Chine to Steephill Cove Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Gift to Nature manage Castlehaven Village Green on behalf of Niton and Whitwell Parish Council. The site has spectacular views into the channel, and is a great place to blow away the cobwebs!

If you want to make a day of your trip, Castlehaven is part of the Niton Smugglers Trail Smugglers Trail which tells us:

Castlehaven once housed a small military outpost of volunteers, watching for French invaders during the Napoleonic Wars. The site has long gone, but the detachment would have been men with local knowledge who probably used their skills for other off-duty endeavours! The harbour was originally built for off – loading coal for use in the local community,  and the connecting bridleway, though steep, would have been a useful track for the discreet movement at night of other materials. In the early19th century, two of the Willis brothers of Niton found themselves on either side of the law, when one became a Mounted Customs Officer while the other, Jeremiah, was a smuggler. Late one night a Customs patrol stumbled upon a group of smugglers near the harbour. Anxious not to kill his brother, but still to be seen to do his duty, the Revenue Man fired his pistol into the air, dutifully missing Jeremiah. The smugglers then scattered – allowing all sides to preserve their honour and their dignity. Shortly after this event Jeremiah was captured by the French and held prisoner in Cherbourg and his family made penniless until his eventual release and return home to Niton. As a result of their penniless state, the family had to leave Herveys and move into cheaper accommodation in what is now Puckwell Cottage on Puckwell Lane.

What to look and listen for …

The views – the Channel and the Atlantic Ocean – the waves have come from Venezuela! If you are very lucky you might see a seal or two, or a dolphin, and very often you will spot cormorants sitting on the posts in the water. Primroses are a cheerful sign of spring and we have planted some hardy plants in a bed to attract pollinating insects.

Depending on the time of year you visit, there will be a variety of gulls. Listen to the waves crashing on the sea defences.

… and smell and touch

Alexanders exude aromatic oils with a pungent, sweet smell that attracts a wide range of pollinating insects,.

As well as a normal bench, there is an old keel that is used as a seat. Find the old winch that used to pull boats from the harbour.

Nature at home and activities on site

We have produced a super Colouring Sheet for you to download and complete at home. We have also produced an I Spy Sheet and Map for you to print at home, or download to your phone and take to the site. And become a Bug Bunch Ranger. All these activities and resources can be found here.

Managing the site

The grass does not grow quickly here, but we have planted some bee-friendly shrubs. Niton & Whitwell Parish Council kindly pay us to manage this site.

How to get there

By car and by bike – Castlehaven Lane is a very rough road and is not suitable for all cars. The alternative is to park in St Catherine’s Road near Buddle Inn and take the long flight of steps, which is footpath NT43 from opposite the Inn to Castlehaven Lane. The distance from the Buddle Inn to Castlehaven Village Green is 0.5 km and with an average incline of 1 in 10. There is no site car park but there is limited parking at the end of Castlehaven Lane. Take care not to block the café or harbour. Postcode for SATNAV PO38 2ND

By bus – Buddle Inn Stop (Routes 6) + 15 min steep walk via NT43 and Castlehaven Lane as described above. (Bus Timetables)

On foot – The new English Coastal Path will skirt the Village Green. Otherwise the site is reached via Castlehaven Lane or the Buddle Inn, as described above. There are other coastal paths to this site, but these are often closed due to landslips. We advise checking before planning to use anything that follows the coastline here.

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The surface is amenity grass.  It can be wet particularly after a storm, and there may also be debris. There is a rock barrier which should not be climbed on. There is a seat. There are no nearby public toilets, the nearest ones being in Niton Village. The nearest toilets at the next door café, if during opening hours Castlehaven Caravan Site. There are also catering at the Buddle Inn The Buddle Inn ( .

A local person regularly visits the site with a mobility scooter, but it’s only for the adventurous because of the unevenness of Castlehaven Lane.

We have written an Access Statement for this site. This includes mobility and sensory issues and opportunities. We welcome feedback from users.

We have produced an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. It will describe the entrance, the size of the area, where to find further information or help and any major obstacles or features. Information has been produced by visually impaired people ensuring it is useful and accurate. Access the description by scanning the QR code to the left of this text on your phone or tablet, or by clicking here.


Get Involved

There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on volunteers to help with many tasks on our sites and also need people who are happy to regular visit the site be our “eyes and ears”, this means we can respond much quicker to issues. Our shop raises money to support our work and needs a team of volunteers. Or maybe you would like to help us with events. Find out more here.

You can also help by becoming one of our regular supporters. Even giving a few pounds each month can make a real difference, with your donation being invested into site management and improvement work to benefit site visitors and look after our precious wildlife. Sign up here.