A short, easy, level off-road cycle route following a river on the scenic Isle of Wight. An ideal family cycle route for even the youngest of children.

Recently identified by the Lonely Planet as one of the top ten destinations for cycling globally, the Isle of Wight provides many cycle routes that are easy and traffic-free, allowing for excellent family cycling.

Best Cycle Routes: Yarmouth to Freshwater

At only 4 miles long, this flat, easy cycle route is suitable for even the youngest cyclists. The cycle route starts at the small attractive town of Yarmouth. There is a lot of car parking possible here.

From Yarmouth, the way out of the town is well signed and once on the cycle route finding the way is easy as the trail hugs the edge of the River Yar for the whole of its length. The surfaced traffic-free cycle route comes to an end on the outskirts of the town of Freshwater. The most straightforward return is simply turning around and following the cycle trail in the opposite direction; however, with the aid of a map, it is possible to plan a return route following secondary roads.

The most obvious route is to turn left at the first road crossing that the cycle route encounters and follow the Causeway for about half a mile to Newport road. Although only a B road, Newport Road can be fast and busy and may not be suitable for young children. Next three-quarters of a mile, switch left again following the quieter Willingham Road. Continue along Willingham Road for about 2 miles until a left turn rejoins the cycle track after a stone bridge. The cycle track may then be followed for around 1 mile until the outward route from Yarmouth is seen.

Family Cycling Alongside the River Yar

The old railway line along which this cycle route is built operated as a railway from 1889 to 1953, linking Yarmouth with the rest of the island. Now remade into a wide track that is ash-surfaced, it provides an easy, level cycling surface. After departing Yarmouth, there are no facilities along the cycle route. There are, however, good views of the saltmarsh and the River Yar at various points along the trail, often with strategically placed benches. It is well worth carrying a pair of binoculars and allowing some stops as the River Yar is an essential site for wading birds and waterfowl. Frequently seen are oystercatcher, redshank, little egret, curlew, brent goose, black-tailed godwit, wigeon, and lapwing. Red squirrels may also sometimes be seen along the wooded part of the trail.

The small town of Yarmouth at the start of the trail is well worth exploring. A settlement since around 990, the village boasts a castle built in 1547 and reputedly the longest timber pier in the country, which juts out into the Solent and is a popular spot for anglers and children with crab lines alike. The small main street has a mix of independent stores from the essentials such as a chemist and small food store to boat chandlers and a secondhand bookshop.

Cycle Routes on the Isle of Wight: Finding Out More

There are many other family cycle routes on the Isle of Wight, including Cowes to Sandown and the Tennyson Trail. An annual cycling festival takes place over a week each September. Even if you are not on the island during the festival, the sun and sea cycling festival website provide many ideas for routes, bike-friendly accommodation, bike shops, and rental locations.


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