After the success of our car free bike ride from Freshwater Causeway to Off The Rails in Yarmouth, we decided to attempt another off-road track.
This time it was the route which starts in Seaclose Park and leads up towards Island Harbour. Footpath fans will already know that it's called the Medina Greenway N120.
Pricey Parking at Seaclose Park
The first issue with this bike ride is that you have to pay seafront parking prices from Monday to Friday. This irks me as Seaclose Park is hardly as busy and short on parking spaces as Shanklin seafront in August. I erred between one hour (£2.05) or two hours (£3.60).
Some money saving alternatives can be found on our guide to cheap parking. A couple of drinks at nearby Beefeater is probably your best strategy, as it gives you free parking.
An alternative way to do this bike ride would be to start at Island Harbour and then cycle towards Seaclose Park. I haven't tested this out for myself but the Island Harbour website says that it has 'extensive, free of charge waterside car parking'. You could then stop halfway at Beefeater and avoid the parking charges.
Seaclose Park has a good playground so you might want to include that in your plans. See our guide to the Isle of Wight's best playgrounds.
The second issue we faced is that we only brought bikes for the children. Unlike Yarmouth there isn't a cycle hire place at Seaclose and I hadn't got round to getting a bike rack by this point.
Anyway, we plodded on with the plan that they would cycle and we would walk.
The muddy banks of the Medina
The bike ride goes alongside the River Medina, which is nice but wasn't as scenic as the River Yar on this occasion. There are some nice bits but there are also big industrial units. It was low tide so we also endured something of a riverside stench for which the children tried to blame me.
On the plus side, the track is off road all the way to Island Harbour. As you get near to Medina High School you want to fork left to stay close to the river.
Most of the way, the track is a lot more narrow than the Freshwater to Yarmouth route and it goes up and down a bit. However, it was wide enough for child two who is still a bit wobbly.
After half an hour or so we reached Island Harbour. You would do it in 10 minutes if you were a lycra-wearing enthusiast.
On a grey day it looked a little bleak but I can imagine in the sunshine it is a lovely spot. The rusting paddlesteamer called PS Ryde is simultaneously fascinating and a bit sad at the same time. You can read about its history here. It is a notable vessel, which 'saw action at D-Day' as well as acting as a passenger ferry on the Solent for more than 30 years (according to Wikipedia).
I don't wannabe late for the car park
Unfortunately, The Breeze café/restaurant at Island Harbour closed a while ago and hasn't reopened yet so this cycle route lost another point compared to Freshwater to Yarmouth. If you want to stop for food or drinks then you would need to carry on to The Folly at Whippingham or return to Beefeater at the start.
Island Harbour is currently home to The Spice Bus. It was used on the Spiceworld Movie which won nine Oscars (Ed: I think you're confusing it with The English Patient). We took a distant peak at the Spice Bus and turned round. You can't cycle in the Harbour itself.
At this point, the stakes were raised as I realised we might not make it back in time before my parking ticket ran out. I had refused to pay for two hours as it was rather pricey but this was now about to backfire. To further add to the tension I had dared to use actual cash to pay to park, so topping up remotely wouldn't work.
I contemplated a calculated gamble. Would there really be a traffic warden at mostly empty Seaclose Park at 5pm on a Monday? If they turned up, would they care if I was 15 minutes late? (Answers: probably not and yes, definitely).
My heart couldn't take the stress of this situation so I decided that something needed to be done.
Option one was for me to commandeer a bicycle from child one and pedal it back with my knees around my chin.
Option two was to stop a passer by and shout "I'm sorry sir, I need this bike, it's an emergency". This seemed like the kind of thing that would happen in the Spiceworld Movie, which made it all the more tempting. Alas, there was no one else nearby so I dismissed this romantic idea.
Option three was to top up remotely. For this I needed the same ingenuity that had allowed me to come up with brilliant inventions such as a Free Newspaper Printed On Toilet Roll (patent pending) and the transparent toaster (now widely available, so it seems someone else had the same idea).
With a little searching I found an Isle of Wight Council PDF document listing all the Pay By Phone codes for the Island and managed to top up from the banks of the River Medina.
We sauntered back to the car, only having paid through the nose for parking twice.
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