Fears one of England's most scenic roads will be lost as footage shows how close cars drive to precarious drop

31 January 2024, 15:15

It's feared the route in the Isle of Wight could be closed due to erosion
It's feared the route in the Isle of Wight could be closed due to erosion. Picture: Facebook/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Fears are growing that a beloved driving route in the Isle of Wight could be shut down because erosion has left it precariously positioned at a cliff edge.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The Military Road may need to have its route changed because of how close it is to the edge now - just two years on from being nominated for most scenic drive by Visit England.

The 11-mile route runs along the Isle of Wight's south-west coastline and offers "a wealth of sweeping ocean views and memorable country landscapes", according to the tourism body - but it suggests going soon as "erosion along the coast could see parts of the road disappear".

But footage recorded by a campaigner who hopes the road will be saved from the ocean shows how vehicles including a bus are travelling just yards away from the edge amid fears a "void" is opening up.

Read more: Roof comes off Captain Tom's family's spa as builders start knocking down £200k unauthorised building

Philip Sheath, of the Facebook group Save Military Road IOW, who took the footage, said: "I was shocked. As a motorist you don't realise how close you are to the edge. It's only from the air that you can see it.

"It's crazy. I could not believe it. You are one coach width from going into the sea."

Looking at the video again that I extracted the cover image from, I looked again, and although its low resolution I...

Posted by Philip Sheath on Monday, January 29, 2024

One Save Military Road IOW member, Martin Patto, said: "This group should not need to exist…. It’s an iconic part of the island everyone with the responsibility of keeping it open should be doing the right thing…"

He called on the council to intervene.

Ross Davidson said: "I'm Island-born and fortunate enough to be a resident within half a mile of The Milly.

Read more: Gap-year students should be paid to go to military boot camp, says General who called for ‘citizens army’

"In my opinion, there is nothing standing in the way of a re-routing of the Military Road, except finance and the positive assistance of the National Trust. Sadly I expect the finance will be easier to arrange."

Local councillor Chris Jarman has warned: "It is a beautiful and iconic Island road, but there just isn't the money to save it and I can’t see anyone donating £10million.

"In my opinion, the only option for the future is to reroute it. My view is that you should enjoy it while it's still there."

The road is among the most scenic in England
The road is among the most scenic in England. Picture: Alamy

The island's highway service, Island Roads, said it was monitoring the effects of erosion but had not seen anything to suggest the road was in "imminent danger".

"No signs of movement to the highway were detected during the January survey," it said.

"Monitoring equipment placed on the cliff side of the road also provides hourly data. This has, not surprisingly, recorded the recent movement but, again, there is nothing to suggest an imminent danger to the highway itself.

"We will of course continue to monitor the area and will liaise closely with the IW Council to ensure all steps are taken to maintain a safe road network."

A public meeting on the road's future will be held on February 11.