Total Length: 12 miles following National Cycle Network Route 23
Duration: A slow ride with a family takes approximately 2 hours, including stops.
Classification: Easy riding, with gradients at Wroxall and Appuldurcombe, mainly off road. For little or tired legs, there is a chance to shorten the route by catching the train between Sandown and Shanklin
If you want a truly unique cycling experience then check out the Sunshine Trail so called because of the record amounts of sunshine this part of the Island receives. Much of this family-friendly cycle route runs along sections of the Island’s former railway track. The unmistakable leg of the trail which takes riders between Merstone and Newport features specially commisioned Troll sculptures and picnic benches along its length, along with lots of wildlife friendly installations to encourage birds and other wildlife.
Most of this trail is based on smooth cycleways and a is suitable for everyone, except there are some off road but you can bypass them. It passes through Wroxal, Godshill, Merstone, Arreton, Newchurch, Alverstone and Sandtown.
The journey starts from our doorstep in Shanklin and heads to Wroxall along the recently resurfaced old railway line.
At the end of the graveled section of track at Wroxall, you can cut out a hill section by taking the wooden steps marked ‘Worsley Trail’ or carry on to the Worsley Public House. Head right along a short stretch of road taking a sign to the Appuldurcombe estate where the English Heritage managed house, said to be the most hunted in England, is worth a visit. (Here you can also pick up the ‘Round the Island Taste trail’).
At Appuldurcome follow the sign for ‘Sunshine Trail’, Follow the trail across the fields, through Freemantle Gate. This section is uphill but once through he gate, the trail heads downhill. Follow the gravel path past the farm animals and Llamas. It is, here, well worth a stop off at the pretty village of Godshill with its delightful medieval church, model village, charming thatched-roofed cottages and winding main-street lined with plenty of places to stop for a drink.
At Merstone, a ghostly deserted station with grass growing over the platform, the rare cowslips making it otherworldly. Take time to look for, split hazelnuts – evidence of red squirrels. Look for dreys – squirrel nests – in tree forks or hollows, often constructed from twigs and lined with moss and hair.
Heading homeward you will past buttercup meadows, ancient woodlands and marshland to Alverstone Nature Reserve with its bird and squirrel hide. The red squirrels there are used to visitors, so take them some snacks to get really close and take a selfie! Keep your eyes out for the red admirals on the nettles, listen to birds, and marvel at geese in the field, flapping away with chests puffed out.
Along the way stop off at Peddlers a specialist cafe for cyclist which is along the pathway. It is here that they smoke the garlic for the Garlic Farm which is only half a mile ride away and worth a visit. It has a little community of Red Squirrels living in the trees above the farm. They like to scamper down to the area outside the cafe, down a wall and along a rope to pick up food left for them
Carry on until you reach Sandown Station – if you’re tired you can catch the train home from here.
Start here. Go anywhere.