Along the spine of the downs, the Tennyson Trail offers one of the best cycle routes on the Isle of Wight. Ideal for a slightly challenging family cycle.

Lately recognized by Lonely Planet as one of the top ten cycling destinations globally, the Isle of Wight has cycling routes for all tastes. It must be one of the best off-road cycle routes in the country. Encompassing a wide chalk and stone track, the Tennyson Trail follows the ridgeline along the back of the downs with exquisite views to the coast on the north and south of the Isle of Wight, across the Solent to the south coast of England, and on a clear day to France.

Best Cycle Routes: The Tennyson Trail Newport to Freshwater Bay

Leaving Freshwater Bay, the Tennyson Trail starts with a stiff ascent of 150 m from sea level to the top of Compton Down. Once on Compton Down, the route becomes much more accessible, starting with the surreal experience of cycling across the golf course on the wide chalk track. The road is accompanied by stunning views to the north to Yarmouth and across the Solent to the New Forest, the coastline of the south coast of the Isle of Wight, with Compton Bay standing out clear day across the north coast of France.

After a couple of kilometers of easy riding, a steep descent takes the cyclist to the road crossing south of the tiny hamlet of Chessel. The route climbs over Mottistone Down until a steady drop takes the rider to the large Brightstone forest car park 8 km from the day’s starting point at Freshwater Bay.

The route crosses the road and continues on its steady ascent of Brightstone Down, hugging Brightstone forest’s edge. After around 1 km, the path splits, and a decision must be made:

  1. Turn left and continue on the Tennyson Trail to Newport, a total distance of around 10 miles from Freshwater Bay
  2. Go straight on following the Worsley Trail and, after a further 2 miles, reach the village of Shorwell. Total distance from Freshwater Bay around 71/2 miles.
  3. Turn around and return the same way; there is one stiff climb on the return route (the steep descent that was enjoyed on the way out), but predominantly as the road descends back to sea level, much downhill will be appreciated. Total distance Freshwater Bay – Brightstone Down – Freshwater Bay, 11 miles.

Cycle Routes on the Isle of Wight: Finding Out More

There are many other family cycle routes on the Isle of Wight, including Yarmouth to Freshwater and the Troll Trail from Cowes to Sandown. An annual cycling festival takes place over a week each September. Even if you will not be on the island during the festival, the Sun and Sea Cycling Festival website provides lots of ideas for routes, bike-friendly accommodation, and bike shops and rental locations.



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