Ryde to Bembridge Windmill cycle trail
Ride from Ryde Pier to Bembridge Windmill, following our cycling route from the fast catamaran landing terminal to the Isle of Wight’s only windmill. Take a short detour to visit St Helens Duver on the way. We have suggested an optional 4 mile (6.5km) extension to take in Bembridge and Culver Downs, and perhaps you may also like to take the opportunity to have a guided tour around Bembridge Fort by some of our volunteers (pre-booking required).
Sail over to the Isle of Wight and cycle to our favourite places
Why not leave the car at home and cycle to our properties? Bicycles are carried on all of the car ferries which serve the Isle of Wight (arriving at Yarmouth, East Cowes and Fishbourne), and also on the fast catamaran service from Portsmouth harbour to Ryde. Full information is given in the 'How to get here' section, along with places to hire a bike if you arrive without one.
Wightlink fast cat terminal, Pier Head, Ryde, grid ref: SZ 593936
Cycle along the pier (10mph max) and turn left onto the Esplanade. Go straight ahead at the roundabout and bear left just before the lake, signed Appley Tower. Go left at the next junction, then left again just before the beach café. Giving way to pedestrians, follow the shared cycleway/footpath along the seafront, passing Appley Tower. Follow the tarmac pathway, bending right before the next beach café, and take the road through Puckpool Park, observing 10mph through the park.
Opened in 1814, Ryde Pier is the world’s oldest seaside pier. Its timber-planked promenade was extended in 1842 to make it the second longest pier in the country. At nearly half a mile long, it allowed ferries to berth even at low tide. This meant that passengers no longer had to wade ashore. Two parallel piers were later built, for a horse-drawn tramway, and a train line still in use today. Ryde has a long esplanade and good sandy beaches.
Turn left, follow the Seaview Duver seafront road and go around a sharp-right bend into Salterns Road. Go straight ahead when the main road shortly bends left. Turn first left into Fairy Road and ahead at the junction, following signs to Ryde. Turn left into Steyne Road, up a steep hill and on. Bear left at the end of the road where the major road joins.
Seaview Chain Pier opened in 1881, offering ferry services to Portsmouth and the South Coast. In 1887 the steamer ‘Bembridge’ struck a whale off St Helens Fort when sailing to Seaview, and for some time the whale was exhibited in a tent on the beach at a charge of sixpence per head. Seaview Pier was the first to be ‘listed’ in 1948. Despite this, it was demolished in 1952 after severe storm damage. Seaview comes alive in summer with an influx of seasonal visitors.
Follow the road into St Helens. Visit our St Helens Duver by taking a short diversion, turning left when the road bends sharp right into St Helens village. It is signposted Duver and Baywatch Café. Enjoy the location (and the beach) but be aware that there are no cycle paths on the Duver itself – walking only – then return to the same bend.
St Helens Duver and St Helens
St Helens was the birthplace of Sophie Dawes, the scheming ‘rags to riches’ daughter of a local fisherman and notorious smuggler. She became known at the French court as the ‘Queen of Chantilly’. The Duver, the local name for a stretch of sand by the sea, was once the home of The Royal Isle of Wight Golf Club. St Helens Old Church was founded on the Duver in the 14th century by Benedictine monks. All that remains is its white tower, now a seamark.
Bear first left into Lower Green Road, then left down Latimer Road just before a garage. Turn left at its end, cycle past Bembridge Harbour and into Bembridge village. Follow the road around the centre then go straight ahead, passing a war memorial on your right. When the road bends left, Bembridge Windmill is straight ahead down the lane.
Bembridge Windmill is an early 18th-century tower mill built of local limestone. It produced flour, meal and cattle feed until the coming of the railway. It was last used in 1913 and is now the only surviving windmill on the Island. It served as a Home Guard look-out post in the Second World War, and was restored from a near-derelict state. Much of the original wooden machinery was used, although it is no longer in working order.
Optional extension: Bembridge Fort, and Bembridge and Culver Downs are a further 3.3 miles (5.3km) away, but most of the journey is along a busy road (B3395) and it is quite hilly. Turn right after leaving the windmill, then go across a mini-roundabout and follow Hillway Road until it meets Sandown Road by Bembridge Airport. Turn left and follow this B-road to a sharp-left turn onto Culver Down. It is a steep climb to Bembridge Fort, then a pleasant ride along the ridge top to Culver Down. Return to the windmill by the same route.
Bembridge Fort was built in the 19th century on the spot where the Yarborough Monument originally stood. The fort was part of Lord Palmerston’s Solent defence system and in the Second World War was used as an anti-aircraft post. Volunteers are working hard to clear out years of accumulated debris and also to restore some of the rooms. Other volunteers give guided tours, bringing the history of the fort to life.
Return to Ryde by mostly the same route. Shortly after reaching Nettlestone’s 30mph zone, turn right up Cawes Avenue at the apex of a right-hand bend. Follow this estate road until a left turn up Solent View Road just before the road bends sharp right. Turn right at the bottom after admiring the Solent view. Go straight ahead at the mini-roundabout and down past Seaview’s shops. Follow the seafront road, which eventually joins Bluett Avenue. Now follow the outward route back to Ryde Pier, except the road leads you left around the boating lake.
Appley and Puckpool
Appley Tower is a folly built on the Esplanade in 1875 by Sir William Hutt who owned the nearby Appley House estate. The house has since been demolished but the circular castellated tower with its turret and oriel window remains, commanding excellent views across the Solent. Puckpool Mortar Battery was completed in 1865, part of the defences put in place by Lord Palmerston in case of French invasion. It is now a pleasure garden with the former barracks used as a cafe.
Take your bike onto the fast catamaran, and have a safe journey back to Portsmouth. Come back and visit us again soon.
Wightlink fast cat terminal, Pier Head, Ryde, grid ref: SZ 593936
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