Explore – An Isle of Wight Gravel Bikepacking Micro-Adventure Itinerary

I maintain that the Isle of Wight is one of the best gravel bike riding destinations in the world; it offers outstanding variety in terrain, and outstanding beauty in its backdrops—combining to offer challenging and awe-inspiring riding.

In this blog post, I have created an Isle of Wight mixed surface (Gravel) bikepacking itinerary that could be completed by most experienced riders over two days.

The route starts and finishes from Ryde, which is easily accessed with a bike from the mainland using the Wightlink FastCat service that operates from Portsmouth Harbour Train Station to Ryde Pier Head. This service is the perfect option for those travelling to the Island without a car, using train or public transport from further afield.


From Ryde, the route skirts round the north-eastern shoreline of the Island, before heading in-land over St George's Down towards Newport. These first trails are a mixture of gravel cycle paths, sandy trails, and rougher chalk downs.

Newport is the central town on the Isle of Wight and is a worthwhile place to stop-over and explore. Café choices are numerous, but my personal recommendation is to head to Caffe Isola to experience the superb Island Roasted coffee on offer, as well as the homemade cakes and light bites.

After refuelling in Newport, the route takes you out onto the Tennyson Trail through to Brighstone Forest. This historic trail runs along the backbone of the Island and offers panoramic views along its route.

You follow the Tennyson Trail all the way out to Freshwater Bay. The descent down to the bay is an iconic backdrop, and one well worth stopping and documenting with a photo—if you can slow yourself down.

If you need another café stop before heading out to The Needles, consider The Piano Café or Freshwater Coffee House.

The Needles is the furthest western point on the Island, and the climb out to the coastguard cottages is well worth the strain; the views across the New Forest, English Channel, and down towards Dorset are spectacular.

From The Needles, the route heads back through to Yarmouth. This harbour-side town is the perfect stop for a late afternoon coffee or ice-cream; or simply to sit and take in the sunshine on the seafront.

After refreshing yourself in Yarmouth, the route turns up the panoramic Green Lane, and takes you through to Tapnell Farm—my suggested over-night stop on this bikepacking tour. Tapnell Farm offers a multitude of glamping options; including eco-pods, wooden huts, safari-tents, and cottages; the on-site restaurant 'The Cow' is also the ideal place for a fantastic evening meal.

The next morning, after a restful night's sleep, you head back out onto the trails from Tapnell. The route takes you up through Brighstone Forest, along the ridgeline past the Isle of Wight Mountain Biking Centre, and then south past the village of Shorwell.

As you head further south still, you reach Chale and the lung-busting climb up to Hoy Monument. This off-road climb will certainly strain tired legs, but the views at the summit are well worth it.

From St Catherine's Down you descend through Niton and Whitwell, and onwards to Ventnor. If you have energy in your legs, then it is worth a short detour at this point to head down to Lady Scarlett's Tea Rooms on Ventnor Seafront.

Be warned, the climb up from the seafront is a brutal one—from sea level to 240 metres at the top of St Boniface Down. I 'Everested' this climb back in 2017, and it still haunts me a little.

From the top of St Boniface, you have a challenging gully descent down to Shanklin, and then skirt through to Wroxall on the abandoned railway line turned cycle track.

From Wroxall you head up through Appuldurcombe Gate and then down across the sandy fields of the Arreton Valley. The National Cycle Network Route 23 then takes you through to Langbridge, where a short detour to The Garlic Farm would offer the perfect lunch stop.

From Newchurch, you head through on the lanes to the seaside village of St Helens—where you should treat yourself to an ice cream at the Baywatch Café down on St Helen's Duver. From here, it is a quick loop before descending to Ryde Seafront for the finish.

This route is beautifully varied and surprisingly challenging. It will treat you to the best gravel cycling the Isle of Wight has to offer.


Caffe Isola
Tim Wiggins Isle of Wight Cycling
Tim Wiggins Isle of Wight Cycling
Tapnell Farm
Tim Wiggins Isle of Wight Cycling

For more ideas for an Isle of Wight cycling trip, check out:

Drop me a message on Twitter (@timwiggins1) or Instagram (@tim_wiggins1) with any questions.


Comments

  1. The Komoot tour is private, so I can't check it out. Could you make it public please?

    ReplyDelete

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