We have updated the cycle and bike hire information to help you plan a cycle holiday on the Isle of Wight. We will be putting on new cycle routes every week for the next few weeks and adding new routes whenever we find them. – www.islandcottageholidays.com/isleofwight/cycle/
Oliver from Island Cottage Holidays has left the car at home and has been traveling around the Island, making visits to holiday cottage owners and taking photographs on his bike. After two weeks he would like to say thank you to some people.
I have had a very enjoyable two weeks going car-free on the Isle of Wight and have been surprised about how easy it has been. Many of the places i’ve cycled to have been accessible by cycle track and bridal way, which means I haven’t had to worry about traffic at all, and along the way I have been able to enjoy parts of the Isle of Wight I didn’t even know existed.
There have been times when cycling hasn’t been as convenient or enjoyable as it might be but this has been outweighed by the help and support I have received from people along the way. I would like to take this opportunity to thank some of them.
A big thank you to Wight Cycle Hire (www.wightcyclehire.co.uk/) with whom we have has a long relationship with hiring out bikes to our holiday guests. They lent me their own Ordinance Survey Map from the shop in Yarmouth when I left mine at home thus saving the day when I was trying to navigate the bridal ways from Yarmouth to Newport.
Thank you to White Mountain Bike Shop in Newport (www.wightmountain.co.uk)
who fixed my bike so quickly when it completely fell apart while I was riding up onto Appuldurcombe Down. They got me back on the road in under an hour.
Thanks also go to the young lady at Farmer Jacks Farm Shop who stopped to help me get all my shopping in my tiny biking rucksack after I had shopped without any thought for how I would get it all home. The lemon marmalade, which I thought I would have to leave behind, was very good.
Help just when I needed it came from a man walking along the cycle path to Newchurch. He held my bike while I untangled some foliage from the front gear. It took much longer than I thought and he waited patiently while I finished. We had a nice chat about the Island Games while I was grappling with the problem. Thank you to him and i’m sorry I didn’t catch his name.
An especially big thanks to all those who stopped and helped me when I took a big fall near Alverstone one evening while trying to avoid colliding with a badger. I braked much too hard and ended up in a contorted heap on the ground. They checked all my arms and legs still worked and got me to my feet. Sympathy and smiles are amazingly effective medicine in these situations.
Finally, a general thanks to the places I visited with somewhere to lock up a bike, to pubs which didn’t mind me being muddy, to road users who passed me with plenty of space and not on blind corners, to our cottage owners who didn’t mind me smelling of sweat, and to the taxi driver who let me put my muddy bike in his car when I broke it far from anywhere.
Our selection of hidden treasures on the Isle of Wight. Special places that are off the beaten track or tucked away where you might not find them. All the places listed below are free to enter and available all year round.
1. Devils Chimney
This narrow crack in the ground is an impressive part of the coast from Luccombe and Bonchurch on the South of the Isle of Wight. This natural split in the rock is steep but a hand rail has been fitted to aid access. Climbing down through lets you emerge out into a wooded area which one could imagine was a different world. A prehistoric atmosphere is abound in these woodlands. Devil’s Chimney can be enjoyed easily by parking at the nearby public Car Park on the left on the main coast road between Shanklin and Ventnor or stop for refreshment at the Smugglers Haven Tea Rooms and walk down from there. Alternatively it is signposted from the coastal path. Read more about Devil’s Chimney. An image of Devils Chimney can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/dgj103/2521584124/
2. Newtown Bird Hide
The bird hide at Newtown is a hidden treasure within a hidden treasure. The village of Newtown is made up of attractive historic cottages and churches as well as being the home of Newtown Town Hall.
The bird hide looks out over Newtown’s wetland areas which has bird visitors all year round. The largest concentrations of birds can be seen in the winter as wintering birds set up home. There is a signpost in the centre of Newtown which points the way down a short path to the bird hide.
This quiet bay on the coastal path between Ventnor and St Lawrence is an idyllic seaside spot and has parallels with small seaside holiday locations in the 1930’s.
The beach is often scattered with a few deck chairs and children explore the waters edge and rock pools at either side of the sandy beach.
Steephill Cove has a couple of places to have some refreshment and everywhere serves crab which is hauled up the beach on a regular basis during the season.
4. Culver Cliffs
The cliffs on either side of Culver Down are a great place to enjoy views over Sandown and Shanklin bays and north to Whitecliff Bay, Bembridge and Bembridge Harbour. Those with keen eyes will even spot Bembridge Windmill.
Culver Down is part of the coastal path between Bembridge and Sandown but if you want to avoid the climb it is also possible to drive to the top.
Apart from the view, Culver Down also has some Second World War history to wonder at. Gun placements on Culver Down were there to protect the Island from aircraft attack.
The coastal path has many beautiful sections but Yarmouth to Shalfleet is expecially enjoyable and varied. Route takes you from moorland to woodland to farmland before you tackle a short shingle section and onto the amazingly beautiful wetland section.
The wetland part of the coastal path has little wooden bridges and walk ways so you get get right in amongst the wetlands and see the birdlife it contains.
6. Porchfield Woods
These managed woodlands on the edge of Newport are great for a woodland walk to stretch the legs. The woodland has well made, wide tracks and they are reasonably flat. If you have trouble with walking over uneven ground or up and down steep hills then these woods provide access to nature. There is plenty of parking and the woods are just outside of Newport on the main Newport to Yarmouth road.
7. Rocket Testing Area overlooking The Needles
Rocket engines were tested on the Isle of Wight in a secrete rocket testing centre which operated into the 1970’s. Yep it’s true. Even more extraordinary is that the facility was located within a short walk of the iconic Needles which form the far Western tip of the Isle of Wight and have been a much visited site since Victorian times.
The rocket testing towers are still in place but many walk right past them to view a stunning view of The Needles with the Needles Lighthouse at the very tip. Sail boat often make a beautiful backdrop to this impressive view.
You can reach the site on the Island Breezer bus from Yarmouth or take the Tennyson Trail from Freshwater and over to Alum Bay. The testing station is located at the very end of the headland.
8. Freshwater to Yarmouth Estuary Walk
The estuary between Freshwater and Yarmouth is a beautiful wetland area and this gentle walk over flat ground runs along the cycle track which is well marked with signposts. The walk starts near the garden centre in Freshwater town (near the Co-op store) but it is worth looking at Freshwater Bay before you start.
The cycle track route (which welcomes walkers) follows the water course all the way into Yarmouth. This walk can be done in either direction as you can easily leave a car at either end and buses go between both towns.
9. Borthwood Copse
Remember you heard it here first. Borthwood Copse is probably the best place to see the Isle of Wight red squirrel anywhere on the Isle of Wight. One only has to sit still on one of the benches in the copse for a few minutes before movement in the branches bring the first indications of these rare mammals.
Borthwood Copse is located near Lake on the East side of the Island and can be reached by the footpath from Sandown Airport.
10. Freemantle Gate
This impressive structure which stands alone where the Worsley Trail and the Stenbury Trail cross and is a lovely quiet spot to enjoy the view. The attraction of the gate is added to by the beautiful choice of routes by which to get there. On the Stenbury Trail it can be reached from Godshill or Wroxall and on the Worsley Trail by following the trail up from Steephill (nr Ventnor) and across the Appuldurcombe Down.
If you have any hidden treasures of your own on the Isle of Wight please let us know and we will pass them along.
Most visitors to the East side of the Isle of Wight will have seen Culver Cliffs. The large white cliffs of Culver Down are visible from the south from Sandown and Shanklin and from the North they are so impressive that they give the bay of White Cliff Bay it’s names.
The Down was used as an anti-aircraft battery in World War II and there is still plenty of reminders of this period of history. Right at the end of Culver Down you can walk around the gun placements and enjoy the stunning view out over the English Channel.
Culver Down is easily accessable by car but walking or cycling up can be a very rewarding experience. The coastal path crosses the Downs and you are rewarded with a magnificent view and a chance to take refreshment at the small cafe or a drink at the public house located there. The coastal path can be taken from Sandown or Yaverland by following the blue coastal path signs. Alternatively the same path can be taken in the opposite direction from Bembridge or White Cliff Bay.
One of the team took a tumble last night on the bike track between Newchurch and Alverstone while trying to avoid a badger that ran out in front of him. The badger was completely unharmed but our hero was sent crashing to the ground. Thanks to his cycle helmet he could hobble home with a bloody hand and bruised chest but otherwise unharmed. He thinks that without the helmet it would have been much worse.
So will it put him off cycling we ask? “No certainly not. I love fresh air and getting close to nature” he says “…it was just a little too close this time.”
The Long Ledge Cafe at Bembridge is a friendly seaside cafe with panoramic sea views and a view of Culver Cliffs in the distance. The cafe serves a selection of snacks and light lunches as well as ice creams and coffee. A lunch of Bembridge Crab caught from the ledge is a favourite.
A walk along the coast from Bembridge can culminate in refreshment at the Long Ledge Cafe before walking inland back to Bembridge. You can find more information and instructions on ways of reaching the cafe from their facebook page – www.facebook.com/forelandsbeachcafe
We have a new cottage available for the summer on the East side of the Isle of Wight. Combe View is a large family cottage close to the beach at Sandown and situated in beautiful open countryside on the edge of Alverstone. A short ride or walk along the bike track takes you to the coast.
Yaverland beach is a long sandy beach located at the northern end of Sandown Bay and well away from the town of Sandown. As a result this beautiful stretch of beach is far less crowded in the summer months.
Yaverland has also become known for the range of water sports practiced their and it is possible to watch wind surfers and kite surfers showing off their skills.
There is plenty of parking space and beach facilities include a small cafe and some changing rooms/toilets but otherwise it is just the sea and the sand.