Craig, Joe & I cycled and wild camped in the Isle of Wight.
If you are curious about our route, you can find it on Strava in multiple parts (part 1 (ferry to dinner), part 2 (dinner to camp), part 3 (camp to ferry)) but honestly, you can’t go wrong if you just take a ferry there and then take a left or route and follow the blue and white round the isle cycle route signs.
The bags that Craig and I used were the PlanetX podsacs to carry our stuff. I thought they were really good, and Joe used the Alpkit bike packing bags.
We met and parked up at the West Quay multi-storey car park (in August 2020 it was £5 per a day). Unloaded our bikes and gear out of the cars and cycled over to the Red Funnel ferry terminal.
We caught the 8am ferry out of Southampton arriving in East Cowes at 9am. First up was a stop of Waitrose for me to get a quick bite to eat. With some food in my face we set off, trying to take a right (so we would keep the sea to our right the whole way around), however almost immediately this plan was foiled as the East Cowes to Cowes Chain Ferry (floating bridge) was closed! So we ended up starting cycling the opposite direction (keeping the sea on our left the whole way).
After a few hiccups (such as my saddle bag constantly knocking my rear brakes) and a few of the many hills we would climb, we ended up on the beach front at St Helens where we hid from the rain.
Next was a cycle to The Farm Shop at Bembridge where we grabbed some food and coffee as a brunch fuel stop.
We cycled on to The White Lion Pub in Niton where we had a late lunch/early dinner. A couple of burgers and a very soggy tofu meal later, we were refueled and ready to carry on. We headed up the Military road (this is probably the worst part, a lot of wind, open, very hilly and where the cars seem to appear), we decided to detour off and head up to the Needles. After a little bit, we looked at how far it was to the Needles and realised it was more climbing than we were willing to do, so be bailed on that idea!
We ended up at Off the Rails in Yarmouth for dinner, don’t order an extra bread roll as a side, they will charge you £4!
Whilst eating dinner we tried to find where to go and sleep for the night, there was some woodland right next to Off the Rails, but the wind was sending the trees crazy, and it looked like it might have been in some wet land.
We ended up cycling a couple of miles up the road to Bouldnor Forest nature reserve, the exact spot where we camped is: https://what3words.com/eggshell.furniture.crass
The next morning, we were woken up by a flying camera (Craig flying the Mavic Air), we packed up and made coffee
We carried on our way towards East Cowes. However we had to detour via Newport and up to East Cowes rather than going to Cowes due to noticing that the float bridge was shut!
We were booked into the 11:30am ferry, but we were actually into East Cowes for 10am, so we realised we could catch the 10:30 ferry back, load up the cars and make it home.
Craig and Joe were both on Ribble CGR gravel bikes. I was riding my Specialized Tarmac road bike. Now for this trip, the road bike was perfectly fine. There were a few sections that were off road, but I really didn’t have an issue, and I was on super skinny, road tyres, on a carbon frame, a 100KG guy, with loaded bike packing bags.
It was a great trip, what was unexpected was how many hills there were in the Isle of Wight. We lucked out for the most part with the weather, it didn’t rain that much on us, although the wind was brutal at times, but this is to be expected when you are on a mostly coastal ride. I’d happily do this trip again.
Craig worked his magic behind the camera (as always on our adventures) – Please go check out his much better photographs than mine on his Bikepacking page