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Beaches, Bars & Blisters -The Isle of Wight Walking Festival
Every spring, some of the footpaths on the Isle of Wight suddenly become more populated and I don't expect this year will be any different because the annual Isle of Wight Walking Festival is back for its nineteenth year from 29th April to 14th May.
One of the flat routes on the Isle of Wight Walking Festival
The walking festival is the biggest in the UK with over 70 guided walks lasting anything from 1.5 hours to one that circumnavigates the island overnight and lasts up to 33 hours. However, most of the walks are between 2 and 5 hours.
The walk guides are enthusiasts in their chosen fields and their walks cover various aspects of the Isle of Wight from its history and geology to its beaches and bars. You will follow in the footsteps of the likes of Lord Tennyson, Darwin and Dickens; take in great views of the South Coast of England; and learn about the natural history and industrial heritage of the Isle of Wight.
Most of the walks are free, some ask for donations and some, run by commercial businesses, charge a small fee.
If you are an early riser, the dawn chorus will be waiting for you at 4.30am on 13th May which despite its incredibly early start is always well attended.
The culmination of the festival is the famous Walk The Wight but there really is a walk for everyone from the Ashey Amble to the 20 mile leg stretcher.
Information on all the walks is available on the Isle Walk 2017 website where details of duration, distance, bus route and stop, grade of the walk and pace of the walk are given for each walk.
Getting to the Isle of Wight
There are 6 different ports of entry to the Isle of Wight.
The Wightlink Catamaran for foot passengers and bicycles leaves from Portsmouth Harbour Station and has a journey time of 22 minutes. It docks at Ryde Pier Head where you can catch a train to the top of the pier for a bus to any other part of the island or carry on the train to Brading, Sandown, Lake and Shanklin.
The Wightlink Car Ferry to Fishbourne for vehicles, foot passengers and bicycles leaves from Portsmouth Car Ferry Terminal PO1 2LA and has a journey time of 45 minutes. Buses run from the ferry terminal.
The hover from Southsea is the fastest crossing to the island at only 10 minutes. Being the last passenger carrying hovercraft in the UK, it's quite a novelty and docks beside Ryde bus station.
The Lymington to Yarmouth car ferry for vehicles, foot passengers and bicycles leaves from Undershore Road in Lymington SO41 5SB and has a journey time of 40 minutes. Buses run from the ferry terminal.
The Red Jet for foot passengers only, leaves from Town Quay and has a journey time of 25 minutes. It docks at West Cowes where there is a bus service to Newport and the rest of the island.
The Red Funnel car ferry for vehicles, foot passengers and bicycles leaves from Town Quay Road SO14 2AR and has a journey time of 1 hour. It docks at East Cowes. Buses run from the ferry terminal.