Mountainbiking on the Isle of Wight
The most common assumption people make before they visit is that because
it is a relatively small island, it must be pretty flat. NOT TRUE! Anyone
who ventures off road will be amazed by how little of the extensive bridleway
network (apparantly there are more per square km than any other county
in the country) is actually on level ground. In fact some parts are so
steep you may wonder how a horse gets up there! Having said that,for the
MTB'er there are some very challenging routes to be had.
There are some publications available which are aimed at cyclists of
varying ability. One written by Ian Williams describes routes with a mixture
of on and off road routes. It has a green cover and can be found in most
Island bookshops and some bike shops. The other guide is published in
leaflet form in four parts according to which part of the island you want
to go. It is also available in some of the libraries.
Where to Ride
For those of you who prefer to get the map out and explore, there now
follows the Extremists guide to the juciest bits of riding on the island.
Outdoor Leisure map 29 is ideal for this.
Without doubt, the prime spot to go is Brighstone Forest. This is the
island's largest woodland area, which is part private and part controlled
by Forest Enterprise. Either way, access is not a problem for both rights
of way and unofficial tracks. The annual Wight Max event in early June
has part of it's cross country course laid out over sections of the forest,
although you cannot do the whole route at other times of the year since
it goes through farmland and a quarry. Some locals have created a secret
downhill area (nothing to do with us!) It's tucked out of the way as you
might expect but on the map, it is at 434851.
The bridleway network covers nearly all of the scenic (read hilly!) parts
of the island. Here is a list of our favourite sections for you to try
out as part of your route.
- From the top of Stenbury Down, past the radio
masts and head north. The track drops steeply then becomes undulating
and turns to the right before reaching Freemantle Gate. Turn left, continue
downhill as fast as you dare and you will end up in Godshill.
- From the radar masts on Ventnor Down, head along
the road in the direction of Shanklin. The surface becomes more broken,
then you turn left through a gate and continue on a track which runs
along a ridge. After 2Km, the track bends to the left and starts to
drop. Continue down a section of woodland to a junction where you turn
right along the edge of a field still downhill. After a gate, the track
widens, goes under an old railway bridge and ends at a main road. Turn
right and continue for about 1Km. Look out for a gap in the trees on
the left and a sign for America Wood. There is a good section of singletrack
here although it can get very muddy especially in winter/spring.
- From Arreton Down, just past the Hare and Hounds
pub on the Brading road, turn left on a bridleway signposted Havenstreet.
This is an excellent long fast descent, just watch out for any farm
traffic coming the other way! Turn right through Combley Farm and continue
for another 2Km still slightly downhill until you emerge at the steam
railway car park.
- From the highest point in Brighstone Forest (at
the trig pillar) continue NW till the track enters a clearing. Go round
to the left and continue until you see a lesser track on the right.
This is a good fast section which gets steeper towards the bottom. Watch
out for the gate by the road (marked Calbourne Bottom on the map).
- From Nunwell Farm near Brading, head SW towards
the downland. There is a steepish climb, but once you reach the road,
turn left then almost immediately right onto bridleway B43. The downhill
that follows will test your nerve at first, but it soon levels out and
becomes a fast sweep down to the village of Alverstone. If you are in
the mood for some more, there is a climb back up to the top via Kern
Farm. Another bridleway to the west takes you down towards Knighton.
- There are numerous short but sweet sections of
singletrack and old drover's tracks to try;
- Dark Lane, Carisbrooke (to the south of the Castle
off Whitcombe Road).
- St Georges Lane , SE of Newport between the gravel
pit and Arreton Cross.
- Hollow Lane, Chillerton.
- Hoy's monument 496788 down to Upper Appleford farm.
- Shepherd's Lane from Arreton Down to Heasley Manor.