A beautiful island, many hop over to enjoy sandy beaches, stunning views and an array of water sports to keep the whole family entertained. But rather than taking the car (supposedly taking a ferry across the Solent is one of the most expensive crossings per mile in the world!), if you opt for your bike it’s considerably cheaper and offers a great opportunity to explore the island in a different way to most visitors.
At just 70-odd miles, a lap of the island is easily accomplished in a day for most cyclists when not touring. But, load up your bike with a tent and cake supplies, then settle down for a casual ride around the island over a few days and you’ll discover some wonderful wild camping spots and little views you’d otherwise miss.
Taking your time also has other benefits. Get up with the sun and head to places like The Needles before anyone else arrives — it’s magical when it’s quiet, I can’t imagine being there when it’s full of tourists. Going slowly also gives you time to linger, to take the longer route, stop for coffee refueling and dip your toes in the water.
My two favorite coffee stops were Piano Cafe near Freshwater Bay. They’re open from 8:30am and a great stop for a healthy breakfast. Secondly, I loved the views from Dell Cafe situated on the sea front between Rdye and Seaview. The service was slow but the food was nice.
While I was on the island I was hoping to stop off and jump on a SUP. The waters around the island looked amazing, and this is definitely on my to do list when I go back (being ill with a cold put me off this time).
In terms of routes, it’s fairly simple — keep the sea to one side and keep going. I also opted to take a few National Cycle Routes (NCR) while I was there. I spotted one heading between Cowes and Newport so decided to explore. An easy flat route along a hedge lined path, it’s a simple and fairly quick route between the two towns. There’s also a nice off road path as part of NCR 22 which stretches east from Fishbourne past Quarr Abby which I’d particularly recommend.
Of course, there’s also some sections which Google suggests cycling down that are clearly not cycle paths. I was heading between Brading and Hillway to the east and rather than simply directing me down the road it took me very much off-road through very narrow steep paths which left me fighting my way through bushes whilst pulling a fully loaded bike — not much fun.
If you’re keen to see my route hop on over to the Ordnance Survey App where it’s available as Ride Isle of Wight. This also gives you details like total elevation. There are definitely some hills, but nothing that’s too bad and it all makes for spectacular views.