(20 February 2020) Whilst some intrepid cyclists may head for the Alps or Pyrenees, those looking to spend some quality, and testing, time on their bikes need look no further than the Isle of Wight: one of the UK’s most loved cycling destinations. Visiting the Island may be particularly popular during the tourist season, but as more of the roads are busy at this time, out-of-season travel is the best time to explore the beauty of the Island on just two wheels.
The scenery and pace of the Isle of Wight changes throughout the year, meaning that off-season cyclists are likely to receive a different, often cosier, island experience when visiting outside of the summer. The cycle routes are also less crowded, and the out of season scenery has a different kind of beauty. As an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a certified UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Isle of Wight is one of the most picturesque destinations in the UK, and the best way to see it up close and personal is on a bike.
Getting to the Island out of season is simple with Wightlink, who offer three routes to the Isle of Wight, departing from Portsmouth and Lymington on the mainland and arriving at Fishbourne, Yarmouth and Ryde throughout the year. Cyclists can bring their bikes aboard Wightlink ferries at no extra charge, or alternatively can hire a bicycle at one of the Island’s many cycle hire businesses.
Wightlink’s best out of season cycle routes include:
The Round-The-Island route
Covering just over 65 miles, this route mixes challenging hillside terrain with more gentle stretches. Visitors can undertake the route in full or simply enjoy those parts which suit them. This ride is particularly appropriate for out of season visitors, as there are a number of shelters and rest stops that can be found around the coast. Many pubs, restaurants, and cafes are very cyclist friendly. The Cantina in Ventnor, for example, is a favourite with Round-The-Island veterans.
The Chalk Ridge Extreme route
The Chalk Ridge Extreme route incorporates some of the island’s steepest hills and has variable terrain. It also passes some of the Island’s most impressive landmarks, including Carisbrooke Castle and Mottistone Longstone.
The Quarr Abbey Loop
The Quarr Abbey Loop is a relatively simple, family friendly, tour comprising just under 15 miles of flat terrain. This route provides plenty of shelter in case of bad weather, as well as lots to see. The abbey itself is very atmospheric during the winter and early spring.
Rail, sail and peddle
For Londoners wanting to travel with Wightlink as a foot passenger, there are regular trains to Portsmouth Harbour direct from London Waterloo. The Wightlink FastCat service takes just 22 minutes to Ryde Pier and passengers are then free to peddle around the Island on one of the many cycling routes.
Additional cycling routes are available on the Wightlink Explorer page. More information can be found at www.wightlink.co.uk, with sailings priced from just £56.00 return for a car (based on crossings travelling out at 09:00 and returning at 20:00 on 5th March 2020 on the Portsmouth-Fishbourne or Lymington-Yarmouth route). Foot passenger crossings start at just £17.60 for adults, £8.80 for children aged 5-15 or £15 per person for groups of 10-40. More information on group discounts is available here: https://www.wightlink.co.uk/go/tickets-prices/group-bookings/