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Totland Bay and Colwell Bay, West Wight

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Courtesy Flag

Flag, Red Ensign


Off Totland Pier 50:41'N 001:33'.05W


Admiralty 2035, SC5600

Rules & Regulations

Dead Slow 200m from Beaches


Colwell, Rocky Ledges...charted

Tidal Data Times & Range

Long stand at HW, First HW (Springs) approx Dover -0050 Tide tables:   (links)

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General Description

Totland Bay and Colwell Bay are included in this guide for two different reasons.

Colwell Bay offers a public slipway to launch your trailer boat, and Totland Bay offers a useful deepwater anchorage in settled summer weather, away from the crowds of the Solent but close enough to nip back in should conditions worsen.

The Totland Anchorage is more sheltered than it looks by the Shingle Bank, parts of which dry and protect it to a certain extent from waves and swell. Nevertheless this is not a place to be in strong winds from the South right through to the North, although it is protected from the East.

Holidaymaker style facilities ashore in both cases.


The Totland Anchorage is approached from the Needles Channel either from the south-west or the north-east. 

If coming from the Solent keep well offshore to avoid the drying rocky ledges of Warden Point. The simplest method is to stay in the Needles Channel, and turn into the Anchorage when the pier bears due East from you.

Colwell is not recommended as an Anchorage, reefs and rocky ledges combined with shallow patches make it dangerous. If launching a small craft from the slipway, it is essential to put straight out to sea in a generally NW direction to avoid the above-mentioned. Once clear of the dangers a turn can be made to port, and the speedy can speed away to their hearts content outside of the shipping channel and well clear of the beaches and shallow water. For recovering the boat starting your run in from quite a distance off, with the slip bearing SE will clear the dangers. The Northern slip in Colwell is private, but the southern one is public. Access looks good for half the tidal range or more.

Berthing, Mooring & Anchoring

For Totland, anchor to the South or South West of the pier head to suit draft. Holding ground seems reasonable.


The Totland Anchorage is quite tenable for an overnight stay in settled summer weather, and a dinghy landing can be made close to the root of the pier on the southern side.  Here there is a crude wooden slipway suitable for dinghies although it may require a bit of skill to get ashore without getting soaked.

Ashore there are public toilets and a tap, a good cafe on the root of the pier, and along the promenade to the South a bar restaurant on the waterfront from which you can view your boat while supping your pint. This establishment used to have live entertainment on certain nights.

In summer this whole area is a hangout of youths who in West Wight have little else to do. They come down make little camps, smoke cigarettes, and drink tins of beer, pretty harmless really. It still might be an idea though to put your dinghy where you can see it if planning on an evening ashore.

A mission inland up the very steep hill at the root of the pier will bring you to the village of Totland if you keep going straight until you come to the tiny roundabout. Here you will be able to pick up the Sunday newspapers, some very basic provisions and find a garage with petrol and diesel.(Still trading March 2018)

The trailer man at Colwell will find at his disposal large public toilets, water tap and the car park. A cafe and beach shop, together with dinghy hire complete the picture.

The beach at Colwell is perhaps the better one, the Totland beach being a bit pebbly when the tide is in. A promenade joins the two beaches, and the energetic could climb the path directly behind the pier cafe up to the Warren. There used to be a dilapidated and abandoned holiday camp up here, complete with halls and chalets. Now there is a luxury housing estate.

Anyone going for a long walk along Colwell Beach towards Fort Albert may come across the "Blue Slipper". The sea erodes the muddy Cliff, and land slips result. The surface of these landslips looks hard and crusty, but if you try walking on it you are liable to submerge into slimy mud that lies just underneath.

Eating, Drinking & Entertainment

Apart from the cafes and bar/restaurant mentioned there is nothing nearby.


Your Ratings & Comments

Written by Don Thomson | 23rd Mar 2018
No changes. We have checked and the garage mentioned in the text is still trading (so many others have closed!)
update 2016
Written by dononshytalk | 11th Mar 2016
No changes
Update 2013
Written by dononshytalk | 21st Jan 2013
The notes for Totland Bay were checked by Don T on 21st January 2013; little has changed here
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