The Walk The Wight is a yearly event in May alongside the Isle of Wight Walking Festival. It is officially organised by Mountbatten, formally known as the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. This Isle of Wight event is all about having fun, appreciating the gorgeous nature of the island and raising money for a good cause.
This year (2019) we took part in the 29th Walk the Wight Event.
Before we start with the history of the walking event, we want to share with you more about Mountbatten. Starting out as a hospital for those suffering with infectious diseases in 1912, the hospice survived through the years and have helped thousands of people in need. Numerous appeals and events have raised money for the hospice, such as receiving £325,000 in 1988. The hospice has grown with new wards and services such as their Hospice@Home service in 2013, providing help to those in their own homes.
Fast forward to now, they are still hosting local events and fundraisers throughout the year. As well as Walk the Wight in May. You can read more on their whole history on their website here.
History Of Walk The Wight
A long time ago the Isle of Wight used to have Trans Wight Walk. You would start walking at Alum Bay when the sun was setting on the horizon, and walk all the way to Bembridge ready for the sunrise. Or even better, to beat the sunrise! A night walk across the whole Isle of Wight. I believe this was a route that would be amazing to do at night! A challenge I would definitely try if it was still possible with an event. However these days, only the day routes starting from the other locations are possible.
Officially Walk The Wight was started by two guys, Bill Bradley & Frank Stevens. Back in 1991 who enjoyed walks in the early morning. They had arranged for family and friends to join them and encourage others to appreciate the scenery on the island by walking different routes. This idea developed into a a walk for charity, raising money for a MRI scanner for the hospital. The following year it had raised money for a new CT scanner and the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, formally known as Mountbatten.
The first ever Walk the Wight charity walk was 29 years ago with about 25 walkers in 1991 to around on average 8,000 to 12,000 walkers the last few years.
Walk The Wight Map
Nearly every year the walking routes are the same, walking through little villages and farmers fields. Following the gorgeous landscape and trails through the nature is what makes you fall in love with the island. The map below shows the main route from Bembridge to Alum Bay. These routes have not changed much over the few years.
The Walk Options
There are always a few options for the Walk The Wight for the public to sign up and join. As you can see on the map above, the main walk is from East to West, with Carisbrooke in the middle.
Route 1: Bembridge to Alum Bay (Whole) – 26.5 miles / 42 km
Route 2: Bembridge to Carisbrooke (1st Half) – 12.5 miles / 21 km
Route 3: Carisbrooke to Alum Bay (2nd Half) – 14 miles / 21 km
Route 4: Sandown to Carisbrooke (Flat walk) – 8 miles / 12.5 km
All routes include many checkpoints, toilet stops and water stops. There are also lots of volunteers along the main roads and locations where you may need guiding into a small lane or field.
Our Walk The Wight Experience
I was born and raised on the Isle of Wight for 18 years, so I have participated in the Walk The Wight multiple years with friends and family. For 2019 we had the idea to go back for a long weekend and take part in the whole route of Walk The Wight. We are avid walkers and love getting our hiking boots on for a challenge.
It was pretty hard to train for the hills and pretty white cliff tops, as we are located in the Netherlands. A country pretty famous for being flat! So we could practice distance but not so much elevation.
We started at 5:30 am by parking our car at the park-and-ride area at the Isle of Wight college. Here we could get the bus to the start of the walk. Our backpacks with food and drinks were prepared the night before and last minute checks to the weather were done in the morning while getting dressed.
Our coats were not really needed for most of the day, as we had fantastic 16°c weather. Luckily our coats were quite light so we could easily still hike while carrying them. By the time we reached the 2nd half I was wearing mine as the wind was chilly.
At the half way mark at Carisbrooke I was really struggling, but pushed on through the checkpoints at Mottistone and Freshwater. I nearly gave up at Freshwater as the last bit would be the toughest. However after a 5 minute break and a motivational speech with ourselves we pushed on. You can see the pretty white cliffs in the background on the photo above, close to Freshwater.
With at least 10 motivational speeches, plenty of cheese rolls, a bag of sweets, a few chocolate bars and bottles of water that we lost count of… we made it. Through our blisters and pains we saw the end in sight by 3pm and passed it before 4pm. Walking over the finishing line in Alum Bay was such a proud moment that we even got a bit emotional. The amount of pain I got through had disappeared while I was greeted by the lovely volunteers who handed out our medals.
Our time record was 9 hours and 30 minutes – which we are super happy with this achievement!
I am so proud of my supportive partner too, without him I would have completely crashed and burned at the Carisbrooke or Freshwater checkpoints. Instead, I can proudly say I was physically and mentally broken at the end with a shiny Isle of Wight medal!
Read more of our Isle of Wight posts!
The Walk The Wight is a fantastic opportunity to raise money for Mountbatten, the Isle of Wight hospice. You will have a fantastic day surrounded by all ages walking for this good cause. Take it easy by taking one of the shorter walks, or push yourself to make the whole route!
We would definitely return to do it again, but would have to look into training better in the Netherlands for elevation and hiking at angles like the ones you walk on the Isle of Wight.
- Get involved by joining the Walk The Wight one year or more. You can volunteer too!
- Make sure you take food, drinks and snacks with you during the walk
- Raise as much money as you can for Mountbatten!
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Have you ever done Walk The Wight before? Or inspired to join next time? Let us know your experiences and thoughts in the comments!