The Isle of Wight Walking Festival is a walking festival which takes place annually on the Isle of Wight, around May spanning two weeks. The event has been running for more than 12 years. The 2009 event featured over 300 walks and over 24,500 people taking part, making it the largest currently to date, and the festival as a whole the largest walking festival in the UK. The event finishes with 'Walk the Wight', the largest walk from Bembridge to The Needles (One side of the island to the other). For the past six years the event has been sponsored by Ordnance Survey as part of a contract which ended with the 2009 event. As it has not been renewed a search for a new sponsor has started.
|Isle of Wight Walking Festival|
Walkers on Tennyson Down on one of the many walks.
|Location(s)||All over the Isle of Wight|
|Years active||1998 - present|
|Website||Isle of Wight Walking Festival website|
Walk the Wight is the largest walk of the festival, and used to be the last to occur. The walk covers ground across the island, from Bembridge in the east, travelling via Carisbrooke to The Needles in the western tip of the island. Walk the Wight has been running for 19 years in aid of the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and is now the biggest sponsored walk in the South of England. The walk is set into three sections with varying distances for walkers to choose from depending on their ability.
The 'Walk the Wight' event was first started in spring 1991, when two members of staff from a company on the island (Morey's which now sponsors the event) called Bill Bradley and Frank Stevens, who enjoyed early morning walks arranged for a few friends and family members to walk from one side of the island to the other. The principal aim of the walk was to encourage other like-minded people to appreciate the scenery of the island. This developed into the idea that walkers could be sponsored to raise money for charity. It started off raising money for the island's own MRI scanner as an appeal had been launched. It then raised money both for a new CTI scanner and the Earl Mountbatten Hospice. Once the scanner appeal was complete and because of the large amount of help and support given by staff and friends, it was decided to support the Earl Mountbatten Hospice which it continues to do today.
As the years passed, the numbers of people taking part in the walk increased from about 25 in 1991 to around 12,000 now. As the event grew it became clear the event had to be managed by a larger group, so a committee was formed from within the hospice. Other companies have later come on to support the event such as Red Funnel and Southern Vectis who now provide free travel for walkers.
In 2008 a new 'Flat Walk the Wight' was introduced running along the island's cycle network, aimed at those unable to manage the steep hills the traditional walk involves such as those in wheelchairs or with small children. The walk starts from Sandown High School, finishing at Shide.
As an island, the Isle of Wight maintains a culture close to, but distinct from, that of the south of England. A high proportion of the population are now 'overners' rather than locally born, and so with a few notable exceptions it has more often formed the backdrop for cultural events of wider rather than island-specific significance.
The Island has inspired many creative works. Local people often seek to defend their real or perceived culture, and local politics is often dictated by a desire to preserve the traditions and habits of the Island.
The first creative flowering occurred during the reign of Queen Victoria, under whose patronage the island became a fashionable destination for the gentry.Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight (; also referred to informally as The Island or abbreviated to IoW) is a county and the largest and second-most populous island in England. It is in the English Channel, between 2 and 5 miles off the coast of Hampshire, separated by the Solent. The island has resorts that have been holiday destinations since Victorian times, and is known for its mild climate, coastal scenery, and verdant landscape of fields, downland and chines. The island is designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The island has been home to the poets Swinburne and Tennyson and to Queen Victoria, who built her much-loved summer residence and final home Osborne House at East Cowes. It has a maritime and industrial tradition including boat-building, sail-making, the manufacture of flying boats, the hovercraft, and Britain's space rockets. The island hosts annual music festivals including the Isle of Wight Festival, which in 1970 was the largest rock music event ever held. It has well-conserved wildlife and some of the richest cliffs and quarries for dinosaur fossils in Europe.
The isle was owned by a Norman family until 1293 and was earlier a kingdom in its own right. In common with the Crown dependencies, the British Crown was then represented on the island by the Governor of the Isle of Wight until 1995. The island has played an important part in the defence of the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, and been near the front-line of conflicts through the ages, including the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Britain. Rural for most of its history, its Victorian fashionability and the growing affordability of holidays led to significant urban development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Historically part of Hampshire, the island became a separate administrative county in 1890. It continued to share the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire until 1974, when it was made its own ceremonial county. Apart from a shared police force, there is now no administrative link with Hampshire, although a combined local authority with Portsmouth and Southampton was considered, this is now unlikely to proceed.The quickest public transport link to the mainland is the hovercraft from Ryde to Southsea; three vehicle ferry and two catamaran services cross the Solent to Southampton, Lymington and Portsmouth.