by Nikki White
We would have been hard pushed to pick a worse weekend to
go away. The rain barely stopped, there were weather warnings all
over the country – and where were we? On a ferry to the Isle of
When I was a kid, we used to go camping a lot. We had this
bright orange tent which somehow dad managed to wrestle on to the
roof rack, along with anything else he could strap down.
I remember sleeping bags and pillows being piled high on the
back seat and, somehow, my brother and I clambering on top of them
and trying to sleep on what seemed like an endless journey to our
destination. Everywhere seems a long way from Kent.
We’d often go to Devon or Somerset, but one year set off for the
Isle of Wight. It felt wonderfully adventurous getting a ferry over
the water. We were almost abroad.
I loved it: Blackgang Chine with its model dinosaurs and pirate
tales, the model village at Godshill and the coloured sand at Alum
Bay. I filled bottle after bottle with that stuff, most of which
ended up on my bedroom carpet after I dropped them when I got
This time was a more grown-up affair – a comfy B&B and walks
(in between the downpours) to admire the scenery.
We were following the Wight Church Trail, a guide to Isle of
Wight Churches and Religious Sites.
At first glance, it may not seem your cup of tea but you don’t
have to be a regular churchgoer to appreciate what this route has
Churches are not just places of worship; they tell the history
of a community, how it has grown, suffered and celebrated. They
tell you as much about the people they provide comfort for today as
they did hundreds of years ago.
We stayed at Blandings B&B (pictured left) in
Horringford, a comfortable room in a welcoming home (and make sure
you save plenty of room for the belly-busting breakfast, complete
with home made plum compote with cardamom).
Set up for the day, we started our tour at the nearby Church of
St George, Arreton, well known for its beautiful interior – and its
Blacksmith James Urry apparently tossed two visitors over his
grave in 1983. He was nowhere to be seen while we were there, but
there had been a wedding the day before and the place was filled
with the most wonderful flowers.
It was these small things which added to our adventure.
At the beautiful Chapel of St Nicholas at
Carisbrooke Castle (pictured right), we stopped to see the donkeys
turning the well wheel; at All Saints’ in Godshill, we took in
photographs taken at services over the years.
St Boniface Old Church, near Ventnor (pictured top), was one of
our favourites. It’s only 48ft by 12ft, and you can hear the sea
from the churchyard.
We arrived just as the sun was dropping and couldn’t find the
light switch. We weren’t even sure there was one, and there were so
many candles on window ledges, I suspect that’s how it was lit. If
only we’d had a box of matches!
Other favourites included St Lawrence Parish Church (another
tiny building but with a table of fresh water and squash for weary
travellers) and St Agnes Thatched Church at Freshwater Bay (pictured
The trail takes you around the whole island and given more time,
you could easily take in all the well-known tourist attractions
But we were glad to get off the beaten track, and see some of
the hidden beauties the Isle of Wight has to offer.
We will be going back to complete the trail, and I really need
to get my hands on some more of that coloured sand.
- Nikki travelled to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink Green
Getaways (Call 0871 376 0013 or visit www.wightlink.co.uk/greengetaways)
- n A three-night stay (Fri-Mon) at Blandings B&B near
Arreton costs from £117 per person (two sharing), including return
Wightlink car ferry travel from Portsmouth or Lymington.
- Nikki travelled on Wightlink’s 40-minute Portsmouth-Fishbourne
crossing, one of three routes. Car ferries also operate between
Lymington and Yarmouth (35 minutes) and there is a passenger
catamaran service from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pierhead (22
- Wightlink’s newest themed booklet extends the scope of its
Wight History Trail guide to include some of the Isle of Wight’s
most distinctive churches. The Wight Church Trail is an
eight-page supplement to the revised 2012 edition of the Wight
History Trail and features 14 of the island’s most interesting
churches, chapels, abbeys and graveyards – each with a particular
story to tell.
The Wight Church Trail is available free by calling Wightlink on
0871 376 1000 or can be viewed/downloaded from the website at