Isle of Wight by Jack Elton-Walters /

Ride level Regular cyclist
Distance 74 mi / 119 km
Type of bicycle Road bike
Traffic free
Circular route
The view from Compton to Freshwater Bay

As a native Islander, website editor Jack Elton-Walters knows the Isle of Wight is best seen from two wheels. Here he reveals his favourite route.

Cycling on the Isle of Wight is a must for anyone and everyone. Starting and finishing at the Wightlink Fastcat terminal at the end of Ryde Pier, this route is ideal for day-trippers looking for a fantastic day out on the bike. Accurately described by The Lonely Planet travel guides as the best place in the world for cycling, this route takes in most – but not all, you’d need weeks for that – of the best of what the Island can offer to road riders.

Heading around the far eastern edge before swinging into the high-hedged and winding lanes of the interior, the route returns you to the coastal road to tackle Cowleaze, probably the hardest climb of the day but one rewarded with fantastic vistas of nearby Sandown Bay. Through the Undercliff, now only open as a thoroughfare to pedestrians and cyclists, keep heading west. Lunch at the famous Buddle Inn – a former smugglers’ inn – is a possibility with a short diversion from the main route before heading up over Blackgang and into the lanes around Atherfield and Yafford, truly the highlight of a generally amazing ride.

The far west of the route takes riders within reach of The Needles, arrived at by a dead-end climb that can be easily tacked on to the route. Head east again through more lanes and take in yet more breathtaking views. A café stop at Chale Green Stores and/or Pedallers Café will keep riders fuelled up for the last climbs and rolling roads, before a spin back down the pier for the return ferry. Up and down all day, the Isle of Wight is far from flat but the effort is worth every pedal stroke. 


Bring a lightweight rain jacket, suncream, sunglasses, usual jersey pocket items like pump, tools, tubes, money and food.

As a reward for climbing the challenging Cowleaze, look to your left at around the 29km mark for a view across Sandown Bay and up to Bembridge Fort. 

Stop just after the Blackgang Chine roundabout while descending at around 42.2km for a wonderful view across to the white cliffs of Freshwater Bay and round to the Needles.

Pull in for an ice-cream after 60km and look out across Freshwater Bay from Compton.

As you exit Shinybricks Lane after 97.5km, look straight ahead before taking the left turn for one of the best views anywhere on the Island.

The Buddle Inn is a good place to stop for lunch, reached by a short diversion in a southeast direction off the route at 38.6km. Check seasonal opening times.

Chale Green Stores is a popular café stop with cyclists that can be reached after a short diversion in a northerly direction after 42.9km or directly en route at 94.4km.

Pedallers Cycle Café is well worth a stop for some late refuelling, directly on the route at 107.6km.