AUTUMN WALKING FESTIVAL PROMISES DIVERSE CHOICE OF EVENTS

The annual Isle of Wight Autumn Walking Weekend takes place this coming weekend, with a huge variety of walks available. They range from toddles to challenging and the serious to the quirky.

Organised by the Isle of Wight Council and sponsored by major GPS firm Garmin, the weekend festival between 24 and 27 October promotes a healthy and fun way for residents and visitors to explore the Island ’s natural beauty, stunning coastline and rich history and its comprehensive network of footpaths.

The weekend complements the annual Isle of Wight Walking festival held each May – the largest event of its kind in the UK – and seeks to bring visitors to the Island outside of the main tourism season.

For the serious walkers and fitness fanatics, there’s the challenging round the Island walk, which is spread over three days. Fans of music nostalgia may be interested in the Hendrix in the West Wight Walk, which follows a route from Dimbola Lodge to the venue of the world famous 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. There’s also a walk where participants sing along and are welcome to bring instruments with them as well.

Animal lovers will enjoy the walking with alpacas event, or they could opt for the Labrador and cakes walk through Parkhurst Forest .

There’s the ever popular fossil walks, and even the chance to walk with a Harris Hawk. Returning once again is the famous speed dating walk, an even that has resulted in several marriages, a baby and is one that has gained national attention.

Shirley Smart, Isle of Wight Council executive member responsible for tourism, said: “The Autumn Walking Weekend is always very popular and this year features over 60 walks.

“There really is a huge variety for all ages to choose from. Getting out and enjoying our wonderful towns, villages and countryside is a great experience while also helping to keep fit.”

All walks are led by knowledgeable walk leaders, and full details are available at http://www.isleofwightwalkingfestival.co.uk/. A programme can also be picked up in council help centres and other local tourist attractions.

Alternatively, to request a programme email elaine.cesar@iow.gov.uk.

Information is also available on the event’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/isleofwightwalkingfestival and using @IWWalkingFest on Twitter.
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10 OF THE WORLD’S BEST ICE CLIMBERS SCALE 115M CHALK CLIFFS ON ISLE OF WIGHT AT RED BULL WHITE CLIFFS COMPETITION

Isle of Wight, Sunday 19th October: 10 of the world’s best ice climbers took on the challenge of ascending sheer cliffs of chalk – one of the most difficult materials to climb – as the first ever Red Bull White Cliffs competition came to the Isle of Wight last weekend.

Overlooking the iconic Needles rocks on the Isle of Wight, the 115m overhanging cliff at Scratchell’s Bay pushed the climbers to their limits, really testing their skills ahead of the winter climbing season. The UK is the only place where chalk cliffs can be climbed and the unique competition format and environment challenged their stamina, endurance and skills in a complete new way.

Climber Gordon McArthur said of the location: “It’s wild. Every aspect of this climb and this venue is completely different and unknown, which makes it very exciting. I’ve never climbed anything like this before, with crashing waves right behind you. We’re used to climbing on limestone, but on chalk you are more on the edge of whether your tools will hold.”

Typically a World Cup ice climbing course is held over 15-25m pitches, but the Red Bull White Cliffs format challenged the climbers to ascend the full 115m cliff face as fast as they could.

Russia’s Aleksei Tomilov took first place ascending the cliff face in just 16 minutes 46 seconds. Jeff Mercier of France was second with a time of 19 minutes and 8 seconds and USA’s Will Mayo took third place in 21 minutes and 40 seconds.

As the person responsible for attracting and growing major events on the Island, Katie Jones of VIOW said: “We were delighted to have been a part of bringing this exciting, world-class event to the Isle of Wight.

“This spectacular competition highlights the Island’s position as one of the UK’s premier locations for outdoor adventure activities – and a place that is able to support and host unique and one-off global events.

“Our thanks to The Needles Park and The National Trust and all transport providers for making this happen, especially Wightlink who’s close proximity to The Needles made it even easier.”

Scratchell’s Bay is a bay on the south west coast of the Isle of Wight, England just to the south east of The Needles. The bay is best viewed from either the lookout point near the rocket launching facility or the Needles Old Battery National Trust property on the cliff top.

For more information about the Island’s exciting range of outdoor and adventure sports, including paragliding, mountain boarding, powerbiking, kitesurfing and climbing, go to http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/outdoor-and-adventure-activities

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For further information, please contact: Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Tel: 01983 201048, 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.org

Notes to editors:

Further still and moving images of the event can be downloaded at www.redbullcontentpool.com
https://www.redbullcontentpool.com/content/international/products/perm/1413792308280-1696819036

Results:
1st Aleksei Tomilov (Russia) – 16.46
2nd Jeff Mericer (France) – 19.08
3rd Will Mayo (USA) – 21.40
4th Israel Blanco (Spain) – 23.08
5th Calum Muskett (UK) – 23.57
6th Dennis Van Hoek (The Netherlands) – 26.25
7th Markus Bendler (Austria)- 26.28
8th Gordon McArthur (Canada) – 27.16
9th Greg Boswell (UK) – 27.26
10th Yves Heuberger (Switzerland) – 32.30
Visit Isle of Wight Ltd

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight. As well as the consumer website (www.visitisleofwight.co.uk) the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities: www.visitwight.org

NEW TELEVISION SERIES SHOT ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT

An episode of a brand new television series in which Strictly Come Dancing’s head judge, Len Goodman, takes a well-loved famous face back in time to recreate their own childhood holiday has been filmed on the Isle of Wight.

“Holiday of my Lifetime” is a new BBC One daytime series which focuses on holidays from yesteryear, reminding us of the beauty and fun of classic trips such as rambling, camping, bus tours, caravan parks and river cruises. Viewers will be taken back in time to an era before air-con and sat-navs, when journeys were made using a Seventies banger with hot car seats or a campervan with a cassette player and when in-car entertainment was more ‘I spy’ than iPad!

In the Isle of Wight show, Len Goodman takes broadcaster and campaigner Esther Rantzen back to the Island to relive her holiday as a 6-year old in 1946. Len will be seen helping Esther to retrace her steps by visiting the coastal village of Bembridge where she and Len do a spot of crabbing, just as she did all those years ago.

They enjoyed a trip to Carisbrooke Castle to watch the daily demonstration of the donkeys and a visit to The Needles Park where Len surprises Esther with a chairlift ride with stunning views of the Island’s coastline. Robin Hill’s magical new event attraction “Electric Woods” also features in the programme as well as Isle of Wight Adventure Activities. Along the way Esther reveals that her journalistic curiosity may have started during her time on the Isle of Wight.

The filming was facilitated by Visit Isle of Wight, the tourist board for the Island, who were able to provide support and act as a liaison between the television crew and relevant tourism providers.

Sue Emmerson, Press Officer for Visit Isle of Wight, said: “We were first approached by the programme makers back in June. They requested our assistance in finding suitable film locations and in tracking down people who had holidayed on the Island in the mid 1940s and we were delighted to help”.

The episode in which the Isle of Wight features is due to be broadcast BBC1 on Tuesday, 21st October at 15.45 and will be available for a short time afterwards on the BBC iPlayer. For more information, vist http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2014/42/holiday-of-my-lifetime

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For further information, please contact: Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Tel: 01983 201048, 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.org

Notes to editors

Visit Isle of Wight Ltd

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight. As well as the consumer website (www.visitisleofwight.co.uk) the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities: www.visitwight.org

It’ll Be All Fright on the Wight

Visit the Isle of Wight this October half-term to enjoy a series of spooky events that have earned it the title “ISLE OF FRIGHT”.

Witches and wizards alike are invited to attend the Isle of Fright with treats and tricks taking place across the Island from Saturday 25th October to Sunday 2nd November.

Named as one of the world’s “Top 10 Most Haunted Islands” by paranormal experts, (http://theparanormal.ca/index.html), there are many stories of haunted houses and ghosts on the Isle of Wight. This incredible supernatural activity seems due in part to the powerful unseen energy or ‘ley’ lines that run under this small Island creating some very haunted hotspots.

During this October’s Isle of Fright, you can take your pick from a range of eerie events including Ghost hunting at Carisbrooke Castle, the ‘potion lab’ at Blackgang Chine, the “Train of Fright” at the IW Steam Railway, pumpkin carving and bug trails at the IW Zoo, and a spectacular dark nights lantern procession through the seaside town of Shanklin.

And with South West trains offering a fantastic 50% off adult and child off-peak day returns over half-term (25th to 31st October), it’s even easier to visit “Ghost Island”. Train tickets can be booked up to 24 hours in advance and are available to purchase from Friday 17th October (www.southwesttrains.co.uk).

Why not turn your “spooky” day-out into a “supernatural” short break, and spend the night during the Isle of Fright? Search through a whole range of great places where you can calm your frayed nerves and sleep soundly in your bed www.visitisleofwight.co.uk

Here’s just some of the freakish fun and ghostly goings-in for families to enjoy on the Isle of Fright:

Spooky Castle

Carisbrooke Castle on the Isle of Wight is reputed to have a number of ghosts, befitting its long history and this October half-term, you can let your little horrors scare themselves silly with creepy crafts, spooky activities and ghost hunting galore! Kids can create their own terrifying Hallowe’en crafts and wander the grounds with the Victorian ghost hunters as they tell you macabre tales of times gone by. A prize awaits in the Hallowe’en costume competition, bestowed for the most spine-tingling attire each day.

25 October-Sunday 2nd November, from 10am-4pm; adults £8, children (5-15) £4.80, family £20.80; www.english-heritage.org.uk/carisbrookecastle

Dark Nights

Celebrating the passing of British Summer Time, Dark Nights is an outdoor spectacle of processions to light up the spectacular cliff face at Shanklin. Come dressed in pirate-themed fancy dress and expect illuminations, digital projections, and live outdoor theatre with giant puppets – and all for free!

25th October, from 6.30pm, torch-lit processions from various locations around the town; finale performance 7.30pm at Spa car park, Shanklin Esplanade.
http://www.thenewcarnivalcompany.com/

Boo at The Zoo

Come and join in a week of Halloween-themed fun and more at the IW Zoo on Sandown seafront. Follow the exciting bug-themed Trick or Treat Trail, come face to face with a number of cold (and warm) blooded animals and unleash your creative side by carving a pumpkin (additional charge will apply). Meet some of the bats from the IW Bat Hospital as they fly in to spend a day at the zoo on Tuesday 28th October.

25th October to 1st November, from 10am-4pm; adults £10, children (3-16) £7.50, family £32.50; http://www.isleofwightzoo.com/

Wizard Week at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway

Dress-up as wizards, witches and other spooky characters – there are prizes each day for the best costumes – and enter the Hallowe’en Treasure Hunt at Wizard Week, at the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. There are also Hallowe’en crafts, owls and birds of prey, magic shows and steam train rides for all the family to enjoy. The night of Halloween (31st October), the railway will be running a special “ghost train” service, with fancy dress encouraged for those daring to ride the “Train of Fright”.

27th to 31st October, Wizard Week tickets which include steam train fares: buy online adults £10.50, children (5-12) £5.50, family £26.50. Buy on the gate adults £12, child £6, family £30; http://www.iwsteamrailway.co.uk/default.aspx

Spooktacular Fun at Blackgang Chine

Don’t miss the spooktacular all-weather fun taking place at Blackgang Chine this October half term! Come and meet the Witch and Wizard in the ‘Halloween hub’ packed full of creepy crafts and games for you to enjoy. Mix up your own potion in the much loved ‘potion lab’ and be entertained by the magician. Blackgang will be open late until 8pm for those brave enough to venture into Restricted Area 5 after dark! Lots of fun activity taking place throughout the day and into the evening too for the whole family. You can also experience the eerie night-time surroundings of Electric Woods at Robin Hill, which will also be open during Isle of Fright with its October “Festival of Light” continuing until November 1st.

Spooktacular event at Blackgang Chine, 28th to 30th October, 10am- 8pm; standard ticket (4-59) £14.95, Saver ticket (4 persons) £55. Rides and attractions will also be open until late during these evenings but some areas of the park will be closed off from 5pm. Entry to Electric Woods is £7.50 per person Sunday – Friday and £9.95 Saturdays. During October half term (24/10 – 1/11) Robin Hill will be open 10am-9pm (10am-11pm Saturdays) entry including electric woods £14.95, saver ticket (4 persons) £55. Electric Woods is open from Saturday 4th October – Saturday 1st November. www.blackgangchine.com; www.robin-hill.com

Hallowe’en Walk at Ventnor Botanic Gardens

A site of serene beauty during the day, visitors can hear frightful tales, chillingly told by ghost hunter – Mark Tuckey of Paranormal Perambulations – on a very spooky tour of the Island’s cliff-top botanic garden at Ventnor. The Hallowe’en walk, which includes access to the secret Victorian Tunnel and the underground former Smuggler’s Museum, takes place on 31st October. Then on Saturday 1st November, there’s another spooky ghost walk at the gardens with the addition of a roaring bonfire so you can warm up afterwards!

Hallowe’en walk on 31st October, Hallowe’en walk and bonfire on 1st November, (bonfire starts 6pm), tickets £9 per person, family ticket £30. Walks begin at 7pm, booking recommended, call 01983 855397, or e-mail info@botanic.co.uk; http://www.botanic.co.uk/; http://www.ghostisland.com/

For even more frighteningly fun times, go to http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/isle-of-fright.

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Notes to editors:

Images attached: Blackgang Chine’s Area 5 at night and Dark Nights procession.

South West Trains will be running an October half-term price campaign next month from Saturday 25 – Friday 31 October (with tickets available to purchase from Friday 17 October). The campaign will give 50% off adult and child off-peak day return www.southwesttrains.co.uk.

Wightlink launches new easy-to-use website

Wightlink has made a considerable investment in a new website which will go live on Wednesday 8 October 2014 at 09:00hrs.

The website at www.wightlink.co.uk with its new look and streamlined navigation will make it easier for customers to use.

Customers can now see at a glance the Service Status of Wightlink’s fleet on the company’s three cross-Solent routes and links to popular pages with key information such as timetables, ticket prices, offers and FAQs are also on the home page. Mainland and Island versions of the site ensures that content can be specific to where customers live.

The website’s simple and easy-to-use homepage will inspire holidaymakers to choose the Isle of Wight. Visitors can click GO to make ferry bookings, STAY to book accommodation and DO to discover more about the endless list of activities people can enjoy on the Island. The website will enable tourists to plan and book their entire break online, whether they are looking for a hotel, B&B or campsite using ‘Wightlink recommends’ partners, thinking of a cycling or walking holiday or deciding which attractions to visit. New features include downloadable maps for popular walks and cycle routes. Extra content is planned to ensure tourists discover more Island businesses and attractions. Wightlink will also work closely with mainland businesses and attractions to give Island residents regular offers for days out and short breaks.

Head of Marketing at Wightlink Mark Persad says “We have been planning and developing our new website for several months and have tried to make it as user-friendly as possible. We have listened to comments from our customers and Island businesses and hope it will make it easier both for Island residents to travel with us and for mainland residents who want to cross the Solent to spend their holidays on the Isle of Wight. But we do not stop developing here. We will always be learning from our customers and the site will evolve in time to ensure it meets the needs of the day.”

“Tourism currently generates over £520million a year for the Isle of Wight, and Wightlink’s new website is a solid step forward in reaching our goal of a further £75million a year by 2017,” says David Thornton CEO of Visit Isle of Wight, the Island’s Destination Management Organisation. “The new website offers easier navigation with links to not only book ferries to and from the Island, but also benefit Island businesses which stand to gain from increased website traffic, better visibility and an improved online experience.”

Stuart Hutchinson, Ward Councillor, West Wight said “A better, more user friendly website. I particularly like the quick option to select where travel starts which is great for Islanders who are regular users. The new service status is of real value and easy to view from PC, tablet or smartphone. In summary, I like it, you have kept the best of the old website but made it simpler and more attractive with some good new features added.”

“Even on a small screen the new website looks great” said Nicky Horwood, member of the Wightlink Community Forum East, “I like the fact that the service status is on the home screen, this is the top reason I access the website, which makes life much easier. I used to find the old website somewhat cluttered, so grouping information into three categories is a really good idea. The new website looks like money well spent.”

Wayne Whittle Councillor for Ryde North East said “It’s big, bold and informative for travellers in both directions, the Go, Stay, Do options are a fabulous way to encourage visitors, this website will be a real winner.”

“I found the new website very easy to operate and I liked the choice between mainland and Island screens” said Phil Jelly, member of the Wightlink Community Forum West, “I also liked the sections on the site which help promote the Island, the information not only suggests hotels and attractions, it also has walks and cycle routes etc.”

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For more information and potential interviews about the new website please call Mark Persad (02392 855412) or email markpersad@wightlink.co.uk

VISIT ISLE OF WIGHT WELCOMES GREAT YARMOUTH DELEGATION TO THE ISLAND

Visit Isle of Wight (VIOW) has welcomed a delegation of 43 of Great Yarmouth’s tourism and business elite to the Island, as part of a tourism fact-finding mission.

The Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority (GYTA) organised the visit on behalf of its members as an annual study trip to a seaside resort either in the UK or Europe. The visit is an “exchange of ideas” exercise with their counterparts to learn how they deal with the many issues that arise within tourism. It is attended by local councillors, council officers and tourism industry members.

The delegation, led by Alan Carr, Chief Executive of the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority, used the visit to share economic development best practices and learn about the Island’s hospitality and tourism businesses.
During the 3-day trip (30 September to 2nd October) to the Island, the group were able to get a first-hand look at some of its attractions including the Model Village at Godshill, Blackgang Chine, The Needles Park and Seaview Wildlife Encounter and also enjoyed a whistle-stop tour of some of the Island’s towns and villages.

The programme also included a series of presentations about some of the key issues facing the industry and a gala dinner which gave the group the opportunity to meet key tourism and business representatives.

David Thornton, CEO, Visit Isle of Wight, said: “We have some excellent tourism businesses on the Island and I was therefore delighted to welcome these Great Yarmouth tourism operators to explore and increase their knowledge of the Island’s hospitality and tourism industry and find out what it has to offer as a holiday and business tourism destination.

In previous years, this fact-finding and networking event has taken place in Blackpool, Jersey, Bournemouth and Le Touquet amongst many others.

Alan Carr said: “We had several new people who attended the study visit who all said that they had learned so much by watching and learning how another resort deals with the problems that are so similar to ours.

“Contrary to opinion the study visits are hard work for all concerned not only do we learn a tremendous amount but we also cement the relationship between our own public and private sector a bond that the Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority is very keen to keep alive.”

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For further information, please contact: Sue Emmerson, Press Officer, Tel: 01983 201048, 07766 705672, E-mail: sue@visitwight.org

Notes to editors:

Please find attached an image of the Great Yarmouth group with David Thornton, Visit Isle of Wight CEO, attached.

Visit Isle of Wight Ltd

Working in partnership with Visit England, Visit Isle of Wight Ltd (VIOW) is responsible for developing tourism and attracting more visitors to the Isle of Wight. As well as the consumer website (www.visitisleofwight.co.uk) the DMO also operates a small industry website containing recent research and tourism news along with links to Visit England reports and opportunities: www.visitwight.org

Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority

The Greater Yarmouth Tourist Authority is a unique partnership – it brings together ALL partners from both the public and private sector to ensure that we can collectively provide a better resort to help businesses survive and flourish and to ensure that jobs are created and sustained. The Tourist Authority is a private limited company which is mainly funded by tourism related businesses through collection of annual subscription within the borough.

NEW FOOD & DRINK BLOG ON VISITISLEOFWIGHT.CO.UK

As part of Taste of the Wight’s (http://www.tasteofthewight.co.uk/) new partnership with Visit Isle of Wight, Solent Co will be publishing a new food and drink blog on visitisleofwight.co.uk,the Island’s most high profile website.

David Thornton, CEO, Visit Isle of Wight, said: “Local food and drink from the Island are becoming an increasingly important part of our overall marketing and promotion. A recent press visit we organised with Jamie magazine and subsequent feature really highlighted the abundance and variety of what’s on offer to our visitors. Working with Taste of the Wight will provide higher quality content to the hundreds of thousands of visitors that use our website before and during their visit to the Isle of Wight.”

Lindsay Becker, editor of Taste of the Wight said: “We are delighted to announce an exciting new partnership with Visit Isle of Wight, the Island’s official marketing organisation. As well as working together at exciting events such as the recent ‘Wightminster’ showcase for Island food, at the Palace of Westminster, all advertisers will now benefit from a premium online listing on visitisleofwight.co.uk – the website that has been topping records for online audiences.”

In future, Visit Isle of Wight will be collaborating with Taste of the Wight to provide higher quality content to thousands of visitors that use its website. The team at Taste are in the process of reviewing and updating the website’s existing listings and features, as well as producing a regular food and drink news stories.

Click here (http://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/blog/read/2014/10/foodies-guide-to-october-b29) to see the latest blog news from Taste of the Wight. If you would like to submit your news and contributions, please contact Lindsay at lindsay@solent.co [mailto:lindsay@solent.co].