Cycling, coffee and cake; they are a magical trio. The great thing about riding on the Isle of Wight is that there is plenty of opportunity to indulge in all three.
In this blog, cycling expert Tim Wiggins has have picked out several of his top picks for cycling friendly cafés on the Isle of Wight, which will serve you up a top-notch coffee, and a delicious slice of cake or light lunch.
The Garlic Farm, Newchurch
The Garlic Farm is perfectly situated just a short distance from the Sandown-Newport cycle path, and also very close to the Round The Island route as it passes through Alverstone.
The Garlic Farm is an active agricultural producer – growing, making, and selling just about anything you can think of that could possibly contain garlic… including ice cream and gin! It is a fantastic experience for all the family to walk around the extensive grounds and learn more about what it takes to be one of the best garlic producers in the world.
Once you’ve sampled some of the many garlic chutneys and spreads, and probably purchased one to pop in your pannier as a souvenir, then head to the Garlic Farm Café for some refreshments.
I have enjoyed everything from an incredible burger to a refreshing iced coffee at the Garlic Farm; and they also offer an extensive range of sweets and cakes (not all of which contain garlic).
Superb food, beautiful views, and a very interesting place to explore with friends and family.
Quarr Abbey Tea Rooms, Fishbourne
Quarr Abbey is a working monastery, and a beautiful architectural masterpiece. Situated mid-way between Fishbourne and Ryde, it is easily accessed from either Wightlink port by traffic-free cycle paths.
The Quarr Abbey Tea Room itself is a special building. Like the rest of the monastery’s culture the aim is to be self-sufficient, and so the shop is powered by solar panels and heated by logs that have been forested on-site. The produce sold here is largely home-grown too, or it comes from other local businesses; in fact, 95% of the produce is sourced on the Isle of Wight.
Last time I visited Quarr Abbey Tea Rooms I was given a guided tour of the extensive orchards, vegetable gardens, and fruit nets; it is a tremendous demonstration of the real ‘Good Life’, feeding the monks and guests at the monastery.
The homegrown and locally sourced produce makes its way into the café and is served up as incredibly tasty treats. From fresh ground coffee and homemade cakes, to light lunches and soups; there is sure to be something that will lift your spirits and energy levels, to keep you pedalling whatever the time of year.
Quarr is a great place to take the family on a bike ride as well. Because of its position on the National Cycle Network Route 22, you are effectively linked from Ryde to Wootton, then onwards to Newport, Sandown or Cowes, all on traffic-free paths. At the Abbey, children can pick up an Explorer’s Kit, and enjoy looking into the local bugs and plants in the gardens, while the adults look at the interesting exhibitions and architecture.
This really is one of the most unique settings for a ‘cycling café’, and it is outstandingly good in all aspects.
The Royal Hotel, Ventnor
For something rather special, call into The Royal Hotel in Ventnor for ‘Afternoon Tea’. This is a cycling café stop that you will certainly remember, thanks to its luxurious setting and exceptional cuisine.
In the summertime, you can take your coffee or tea and your extensive selection of freshly made cakes up out onto the terrace and enjoy the beautiful seaside setting. In the winter, relax in the cosy bar and refuel yourself with coffee, hot chocolate and a light snack, ready for the rest of your ride.
Ventnor is the sunniest town in Britain, and The Royal is a truly special place to visit. Just be warned… from Ventnor you will always have quite a climb to get out onto the roads and trails of the Island (you might want that second espresso!).
The Cow Co. Restaurant Tapnell Farm, Yarmouth
To reach The Cow at Tapnell Farm Park you are required to take on a little gravel road excursion; but navigating the access road is very much worth the effort. This is one of the best places to lunch on the Island.
Tapnell Farm Park is a superb place to take the family and offers a day’s worth of fun seeing the animals and taking part in the numerous activities available on site. There is extensive accommodation here too, if you are looking for a cycle-friendly place to stay.
For food and refreshments, The Cow is hard to beat. The converted barn is equipped with a fully licensed bar and top-notch kitchen, and will serve you up some of the best ‘classics’ you have ever tasted – I wholeheartedly recommend the burgers and milkshakes.
The views from the farm are outstanding: looking over the Downs and The Solent with a 360-degree panoramic outlook.
Tapnell Farm is also situated a very short distance off the Round the Island Route (take a detour up the scenic Broad Lane), and a stone’s throw from Wightlink’s Yarmouth port; making it the ideal place to call in for mid or après ‘fuel for the ride’.
The West Wight Alpaca Farm, Wellow – Yarmouth
For coffee, cake, and… pizza; West Wight Alpacas is a great stopover.
Watch the fluffy Alpacas as you sip on great coffee and enjoy a slice of homemade cake; either sat outside in the sunshine, or inside next to the wood fired pizza oven.
The Alpaca farm is right on the Round The Island route, as it runs through the sleepy village of Wellow. If you are starting the route from Wightlink’s ports in Fishbourne or Ryde, then this is a great mid-way pit stop on the west side of the Island.
Baywatch On The Beach, St. Helens
If you are on the east side of the island and looking for refreshments, then the Baywatch Café on The Duver at St. Helens is an idyllic place to stop.
It is a quick detour off the Round The Island route, but a trip down to Baywatch provides a beautiful setting. The selection of fresh coffees, teas, cakes, and lunches are freshly prepared on site, and you can enjoy them sat out on the sea wall, soaking up the sunshine and enjoying the view.
Dimbola Lodge Tea Room, Freshwater
For something a little different, Dimbola Museum & Galleries at Freshwater Bay is a unique opportunity to mix fine art with great coffee, mid-way through your ride.
The gallery showcases a stunning mix of artwork from local and nationally-renowned contributors. Meanwhile the coffee shop is supplied with locally made cakes and freshly ground coffee – essential to keep the wheels turning.
Relax inside or out and take in the beautiful backdrop of Freshwater Bay. Dimbola Lodge is a real local tearoom with a special twist.
Still stuck for café ideas? Or have some of your own? Tweet Tim at @timwiggins1.
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