Well we made it – again! Rev Clive very generously agreed to go at half speed, and with Rhod away on his travels, and my friend Ben otherwise engaged, it was your trusty Churchwarden on his tod who mounted his bike and set off in the Vicar’s wake. Simultaneously, Chloe set off on foot. Read on to hear how we survived the day!

The weather was stunning, and Clive and I had a lovely ride from Shalfleet to Newtown and on to Gurnard, before dipping down into Cowes. There we found that the floating bridge – surprise, surprise – was out of service, so were forced off our prepared route. We headed over to Newport on the cycle track, and interrupted a demonstration outside the Minster, complaining about the so-called silencing of Parliament.

From Newport we headed to Arreton, with its amazing 12th century church, and then down to Newchurch and on towards Sandown. At Sandown we got a little geographically embarrassed; we headed for Brading and Bembridge, but were not helped by the fact that the road to Bembridge was blocked. Clive was unwilling to leap the barrier, so we retraced our steps and ended up doing a lap or two of Sandown, took in Yaverland, and then had a delicious sandwich on the sea front.

From there we went to Lake, Wroxall and Godshill, before the long loop back via Whitwell, Niton, Chale, Shorwell, Brighstone, Mottistone and Brook.

In all we visited 22 churches, and rode for around 63 miles (Clive doing at least 10 more than that, as he had to come over to my house first, and double back home at the end).

We were really lucky with the weather, and the people we met in the various churches were delightful and very welcoming.

My phone died before we got to the end, and I couldn’t record every church we visited as in the past. But I will leave you with my final photo, taken as we rode away from Niton and I realised I had forgotten to take a pic. Blue sky, blue sea, green grass, and mile after mile of road…

Meanwhile, while Clive and I were pedalling like billy-o, Chloe was heel-and-toeing it over the hills. From Newbridge she walked through the Moor to Westover Farm and down to Gotten Leaze and up into the Forest and along the ridge of the Downs to Shorwell, then past Wolverton Manor to Yafford and to Brighstone, then to Mottistone via Strawberry Lane and the Longstone and round by the road to Brook and past Chessell to home. It took her seven hours with stops for tea, sandwich, and blackberries! She bumped into Rodney Hogg, who was also Riding and Striding, and they had a chat about Rodney’s survey of churchyards in the West Wight, a subject close to her heart and ours.

We have had some very generous support for our efforts, and are really grateful. The money goes to the Hampshire and the Islands Historic Churches Trust, who have been so generous to us in the past. Half of all that is raised comes back to Shalfleet, so it is a great charity to support. If you are able to top up our total, this is the link to the fundraising page.

Here’s to next year!