Last month, four bloggers and I spent a weekend cycling on the Isle of Wight – the 350 square mile (380 km2) island just off the south coast of England opposite Southampton – on a blog trip sponsored by Red Funnel ferries who operate between the island and the mainland.
Being one of the most southerly parts of the UK, the island has a far milder climate and a lot more sunshine than people get in London and other cities, which is why it is a popular weekend escape for city dwellers. The trip, organised by FourBGB PR on behalf of Red Funnel, was a great reminder of just how easy it is, particularly for Londoners, to escape to the island for a weekend activity break. It’s a beautiful place to visit all year round, and when the weather starts to warm up it becomes the perfect location for a cycling break before other destinations further north in the UK – one of the points FourBGB’s Samantha Hooper on behalf of Red Funnel, is keen to promote:
We were looking to primarily demonstrate three things: how fantastic the Island is for cycling – a new cycling event, The Wight Riviera Sportive has been launched this year; the high quality of the Island’s food offering as a lesser known delight – just one reasons why the Isle of Wight is a good UK break destination – and finally we wanted to highlight Red Funnel as being the best way to travel to the Island, with a wealth of online material advising customers on how to spend their time.
Having organised numerous press trips in the past for journalists from national newspapers and magazines, we wanted to make a concerted effort to reach out to the blogging and online sphere, given the increasing importance and relevance of social media in our day-to-day lives. We targeted a very small selection of highly rated travel blogs, blogs that we respected and felt were a good fit for both the Red Funnel and Isle of Wight brands and whose readers would hopefully be interested in reading about the destination
My fellow blog-cyclists were Akeela Bhattay ( @Actuallyakeela ), Francesca Harris (@FrancescaKH) and Aisleen & Richard (@LifesGreatAdv) who were all there to cover the weekend in their own blogs and, like me, live blog on Facebook and Twitter, although that was not a pre-requisite of the trip. According to Samantha Hooper the live tweeting generated a twitter buzz around the trip and the #rfbikeweekend hashtag reached a combined audience of nearly 20,000 followers.
The Isle of Wight is known to many for all the activities that go on throughout the spring and summer months; from music, comedy and food festivals to more adventurous activities such as windsurfing and kite surfing on the coast (it’s a fantastic place to develop an affair with watersports), but not everyone associates it with cycling.
And we’re not talking ‘competitive cycling’ here. Instead something rather more leisurely – hence my Enid Blyton-esque “Five go Wild” title – because cycling around the Isle of Wight is a great way of exploring and seeing the sights combined with the freedom to stop off at one of many fantastic eateries along the way. In short, the island is a foodie’s heaven.
In this instance, it was a saving grace that the Isle of Wight offers such a fantastic gastromony experience on top of its sandy beaches.
Unfortunately, due the somewhat extreme weather circumstances, which is not always associated with this time if year (particularly from April onwards the weather starts warming up) we weren’t able to enjoy two full days of cycling. However, the foodie experiences helped to make up for it! Foodie highlights included Salty’s, a fresh fish and seafood restaurant located in the small harbour town of Yarmouth; dinner at Barefoot on the Beach,a restaurant & cafe directly on the beach at Colwell Bay; and an unforgettable lunch (and personal highlight of the trip) at Justin Brown at Farringford, a unique Isle of Wight restaurant set within the gardens and former home to Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Accommodation was provided by The West Bay Club, a newly built holiday village on the Isle of Wight offering luxury self-catering accommodation in ‘New England’ style cottages, and it was handy to have the hot pool and Spa within a short stroll from our cottages!
And for the main sponsors, Red Funnel?
Samantha Hooper says:
Red Funnel are looking to position themselves as THE Isle of Wight specialists. With a history spanning over 150 years, we want consumers to know how passionate and dedicated we are to promoting the Island and what a fantastic source of knowledge the company holds on the Island. Such knowledge is demonstrated in Red Funnel’s My Isle of Wight blog.
They also want to promote their cheap short break packages (from £45) with hotels and crossing (up to 50% off when combined with a hotel stay).
Will there be further blog trips to the Isle of Wight?
Yes, definitely. Samantha says the blog trip was part of an on-going campaign to move with the times and recognise the importance and value of online media.
Will there be “lashings of ginger beer”?
Only, say the Travelllll.com team, if I promise never to mention Enid Blyton ever again!
- 8 August, 2012 @ 8:30 [Current Revision] by Lezaan Roos
- 31 May, 2012 @ 20:09 by John O'Nolan
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- 24 May, 2012 @ 19:32 by Alastair McKenzie
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- 24 May, 2012 @ 18:48 by Lezaan Roos
- 24 May, 2012 @ 18:48 by Alastair McKenzie