Cycling Terrain, Trails and Routes
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The Isle of Wight really is an ideal cycling holiday destination. Cycle along with ease as the light catches the folds and tucks of the countryside. Here the horizons are constantly changing. This is an island of sweeping hills, river valleys, chalk cliffs, ancient woodlands, downland and marsh.
The Isle of Wight has been described many times as England in miniature. In a single day's cycle ride it is possible to travel through a huge variety of terrain. The UK's best maintained and most tightly-packed network of linking bridleways, green lanes, old railway lines, woodland tracks and minor country roads will carry you across the island. Cycling gives you freedom and offers a sense of well being through physical exercise. It is the environmentally friendly way to explore the countryside.
All the following routes are circular and have been chosen so that they can be completed in a single day or less (all of the routes are less than twenty miles). Each starts from a convenient car parking place. The different locations of the routes cover much of the varying terrain across the island.
Cyclists are welcome on all bridleways on the Island. These are shown as green dashed lines (not dotted, those are footpaths) on OS outdoor leisure map no. 29, 1:25000. On the Landranger series they are shown as red dashed lines. You can also cycle on By-ways open to all traffic (BOAT), and specified cycle tracks (including Shide to Blackwater, Newport to Cowes and Yarmouth to Freshwater). The Island has over 200 miles of bridleways and byways plus countless quiet country lanes.
The most spectacular scenery and arguably the best off-road cycling has to be in the West Wight. Here is where the chalk downs are and consequently some large climbs and spectacular downhills. There is a veritable maze of trails in and around Brighstone Forest (these used to be the old Highways in years gone by). There is also some excellent riding in the Southern Wight. If you're really into lots of off-road (and don’t mind climbing hills), then the West Wight is for you.
Almost half the Island has been designated by the Countryside Commission as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Heritage Coastline. The Public Rights of Way are regularly maintained and it was the first network in the country to be comprehensively signposted and waymarked. You can choose a leisurely ride with the family along old railway lines and cycletracks or try one of the many rugged rollercoater rides over the downs. If you want to see all of the Isle of Wight, there is even a signposted, easy to follow
Round the Island Road Route.
Maps are available for cycle routes and trails from the local tourist information offices, or Sustrans website.