Out and about in the South East this summer

CYCLING has become increasingly popular in recent years, both as a sport and as a leisure pursuit. In our towns and cities and in the countryside, you will often see cyclists clad in their colourful vests and sportswear covered from head to toe… and usually wearing rather smart sunglasses too!

Of course cycling appeals to all ages and abilities, and is not just for the sporty types amongst us. On a summer’s day, one of the great things about the South East of England is taking a family day out to spend riding along the bye-ways and cycle paths, discovering places we probably would not otherwise find if travelling around by car. It’s a perfect way too to enjoy spending time with the children in the outdoors and maybe take a picnic to eat along the route? For further information to help you find places to visit by bike in our region, please see our Cycling Routes, Holidays and Tours.

In The Frame

In the Frame - web8

Transport of the two wheeled variety is the inspiration behind a current exhibition at the Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth. As part of the gallery’s In The Frame cycling season, they have transformed some space to provide a showcase of some of the most famous bikes ever manufactured, all curated by local cycling enthusiast Tim Connell. In the exhibition, you will also find everything from the Victorian-era Penny Farthings to contemporary custom-built racing bikes and even Connell’s own first bike, a Raleigh Winner. The exhibition will run until 26th July which coincides with the finish of this year’s Tour de France race in Paris.

Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight is of course a great place to take your bike on holiday, and if you fancy a day trip or weekend then this beautiful island should be high on your list. The Island was recently voted to the top spot in the Lonely Planet’s Top 10 World Cycling Routes and indeed there around 500 miles of cycle and bridleways on the Isle of Wight, making it ideal for both a relaxing and a healthy holiday. During your visit, why not take a trip to the Ventnor Botanic Garden, which is located on the south east of the Island? The Garden benefits from a micro-climate that is unique to the area, and as a result has an unrivalled subtropical and exotic plant collection. For example, you will find plants that are normally only grown in protected glasshouses that are able to thrive and naturalise out of doors here. The Vetnor Botanic Garden contributes to the current UK’s Climate Change Research programme and therefore it is a place which will allow you to spend some leisure time relaxing amongst the various plants whilst learning more about conserving our planet for future generations.


Hello Kitty Tea Cup Ride

Whilst we’re in the mood for gardening, another possibility for you to spend a day out is Wakehurst in West Sussex, which is managed by the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. The Gardens cover 465 acres in size, so there will be plenty of space for the children to roam including a natural play area as well as ornamental gardens, temperate woodlands and a nature reserve.  The property belongs to the National Trust and in addition to the gardens there is an Elizabethan house as well as the 21st-century architecture of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank.

My final choice this month is Drusillas Park (pictured) in East Sussex. Drusillas has a zoo so there is plenty of opportunity to see various animals of all shapes and sizes, but it has also been designed to include play areas, an interactive maze, an adventure style quest and much, much more. For those who love Thomas the Tank Engine (and who doesn’t?), you can climb aboard the locomotives or maybe exchange a word or too with The Fat Controller if your train is late… All in all, with such variety of themes and activities Drusillas will provide a fun day out for all the family.

Blog written by Simon Frost


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