Island Insights

Getting around the Isle of Wight on a bicycle

The Isle of Wight is one of the best places for cycling in the UK. ‘What strikes cyclists who come here is that the roads are so quiet and they are generally of very good quality,’ says Kevan Ansell, founder of Route Fifty7, the Shanklin-based cycle hire company.

‘There are a lot of back roads that are so quiet. Elsewhere they would be used as rat runs but that isn’t the case here. It’s true you can always get one bad egg but the drivers here are so much more polite and patient than on the mainland. They will just sit behind you rather than race by.’

Three main cycle routes cover much of the Island, with many other smaller inter-linked cycle paths connecting the remaining gaps.

Family cycling on the Isle of Wight, Slow Guide to the Isle of Wight

Round The Island cycle route

The route runs for 66 miles – as it implies – around the Island. ‘It’s a great route and signposted all the way, which often isn’t the case with cycle routes,’ says Kevan. ‘It’s a proper road route.’

Red Squirrel Trail cycle route

This is a lasso-shaped route that explores the east of the Island and is popular with families. The basic loop runs for 13-miles from Newport to Sandown and Shanklin, with the ‘grip’ of the lasso representing the extension up through Newport to West Cowes and Parkhurst Forest.  ‘About 95% of the route is off-road, ranging from flat, former train lines to mud and puddles,’ says Kevan,’ and is suitable for trail bikes and mountain bikes, bicycles with chunkier tyres. There are fantastic things to see along the way, from Godshill to Appuldurcombe House.

Chalk Ridge Extreme cycle route

The route is aimed at cyclists with a slightly higher level of fitness as it follows the chalk ridge along the ‘back’ of the Island. Across the entire 53 miles you will climb a total of 4,934 feet. ‘This is proper mountain bike territory but when you get up on the top the views are glorious,’ says Kevan.

cycling the Chalk ridge Extreme Isle of Wight, Anna Glowinski

Electric Bikes on the Isle of Wight

If you find some of the potential climbs rather daunting you can always hire an electric bike. ‘Many people want a leisurely experience,’ says Tracy Mikich of the Seaview Hotel Seaview, (Route 2) which hires out electric bikes. ‘Electric bikes allow you to enjoy what you are seeing around you rather than pumping your calf muscles all the time. Not all cycling has to be about gung-ho lycra.’

Located on Route 6 and easily accessible from Route 7, The Bay Boutique B&B, Freshwater also hires out electric bikes to its guests. Run with an emphasis firmly on sustainability, The Bay provides maps, tips and ideas of where to explore on your bike.

Isle of Wight Cycle Hire

Red Squirrel Electric Bike Hire Operating from the Isle of Wight Visitor Information Centre in Newport, it’s a very short journey to access the cycle paths heading to Cowes, East Cowes and Sandown. Red Squirrel Electric Bikes are also available from RouteFifty7 (see below).

Route Fifty7. Offers bikes for hire across the Island and will drop them off for free (depending on a minimum hire charge). They also hire cycles for you to use to promenade up and down the bay from Shanklin to Sandown and back, a distance of 5.5 miles.

Wight Cycle Hire is based in Yarmouth, right on the Yarmouth to Freshwater cycleway.