Dust off your bike to explore Sheppey this sparkling winter

Looking at the new walking and cycling map from Explore Kentit is a good time to start thinking about getting out and about on the Isle of Sheppey this winter.

Active travel or getting to where you want to go by cycling or walking creates a lot of good in the world. Aside from the benefits to the environment, workers who commute have a lower turnover rate, reduced absenteeism, improved productivity and morale, and lower health care costs.

Indeed, research compiled by Sustrans has shown that people who are inactive have three times the rate of moderate to severe depression as active people.

The Cycling and Walking Map

Explore Kent’s cycling and walking map highlights a number of routes on the Isle of Sheppey just waiting to be explored.

For example, there’s the Isle of Harty Trail which is a flat and circular leisure route. It’s perfect for families as it is mostly traffic free and at a moderate speed can be completed comfortably within an hour. The route provides an opportunity to explore the spectacular eastern side of the island.

In addition, there’s the circular Sheerness Way or Sustrans route 174, which takes you on a nautical route along the northern coast of the island, through the town and Barton’s Point Coastal Park. The route includes fascinating opportunities to explore local history and heritage such as Blue Town Heritage Centre and the ongoing project to restore Sheerness Dockyard Church.

The map also shows routes and connections to the schools and attractions on the island designed to inspire you to start commuting for your journey to work. If you feel inspired, take a look at this video about commuting by British Cycling which includes some useful tips to get started.

Think of Safety When Cycling 

As well as planning your route, there are other things you must consider. The first question before you set out is what do you need to take with you to get around if the weather turns? If you are an experienced cyclist there are a range of options for you to consider, but if your cycling is more irregular during the year, and you like to explore the local area at your own pace, then we’ve created this guide for you.

Clothing

In the winter the weather can quickly change from gentle to harsh so you might want to consider what you will do in certain conditions. You’ve decided to take your waterproof with you, but you find you get too hot once you are cycling. Sweating is meant to make you feel cool in the summer but it can make you feel cold in the winter. The professional advice is that you should wear specialised cycle clothing as it is light and perfect for this type of exercise. But it’s important to wear what you feel comfortable in and keeps you warm. Wearing gloves with material which grips onto handlebars is ideal as these help to keep your extremities warm in the winter weather. Glasses are also recommended to protect your eyes in case grit or surface water sprays into your eyes from the road.

Other Things To Consider

It can also be useful to invest in a puncture repair kit, so that you can fix your tyres if they burst in the harsher weather.

You may want arrange a stop at a a take-away venue or shop for a  snack and drink. However, if you have somewhere to store it safely on your bike, you could take food and drink with you.

An essential is also to get a light for your bike as the daylight hours get shorter. It might be worth buying a light even if you plan to only cycle during the day, considering that you might get delayed at your destination or it could be a particularly overcast day.

It is also essential to make sure that your bike is clean, which includes clearing out any branches or leaves which might have become stuck in the chains during your winter adventures. This will help to make sure that your bike lasts longer and is safe to use.

As we all know, the weather can change quickly in the UK so checking the forecast before you leave is a must. There might be a storm later in the day, and sometimes it is better to curtail your plans so that you do not put yourself in a dangerous situation.

In the winter it can be difficult to get motivated when it’s cold outside, but once you get out you will start to feel the benefits of getting active. Our final advice then for getting outside this winter is to get everything ready to go. It’s much easier to follow your impulse, check the forecast and get outside in the moment rather than getting ‘put off’ because your bike isn’t ready to go.

It is definitely a time to explore, practice social distancing and not to leave your bike gathering dust in the shed.

Explore the Isle of Sheppey on your cycle.

Explore the Isle of Sheppey on your cycle - Image: Explore Kent