The population density on the Island is 370 per square km. So that is not many people to have to bump in to. And if you avoid the towns, you’ll practically bump into no one. Certainly, The Granary is an easy place to isolate. After all, we’ve been doing it for years. At the end of its country lane, far from the village, The Granary is in a truly secluded spot. And you can step out, head up the bridleway, and magnificent walks with spectacular views are yours, with not a soul in sight. You can even head over the hill, down through Devil’s Chimney at the Bonchurch landslip, and come out on Monk’s bay, an out-of-the-way little beach where, if hardy enough, you can enjoy a dip in the sea to wash off all your worries.
But, if you want to explore more of our lovely Island, whilst meeting no one, here are a few more suggestions:
Walk the beaches on the Back of the Wight
A short hop along the Military Road brings you to Shepherd’s Chine. Here you can park by the side of the road, walk down the chine, and come out on the broad, pebbly beach. From here you can turn south and walk for miles along the beaches on the Back of the Wight, meeting just perhaps an occasional dog walker. As you near Atherfield Point the beach becomes sandy and carries on that way for miles. The cliffs to the left have been crumbling into the sea at high tide for years, and if you are lucky you may be able to see a freshly revealed fossil. The walk then takes you down to Whale Chine, but no, I doubt you will spot a whale here. You may see a seal or a dolphin though, and certainly kestrels hovering over the cliff edge.
From here you can turn and walk back, or climb the steps hewn into the cliff (being very careful) and walk the cliff path back the Shepherd’s Chine. The view from this path, along to the Needles, is astounding.
Walk the Coastal Path
Come to think of it, you could just walk the entire coastal path, all 65 miles of it. Or perhaps you can divide it up however you see fit. Any stretch will only take you past one or two other walkers now and again. Just shout them a cheery Hello! from 3 metres away.
Stroll with Tennyson (he is sufficiently socially distant!)
Tennyson lived at nearby Farringford and loved to walk the downs now named after him. The view from the monument is breath-taking – you can see the whole Island for what it is. Tennyson composed much of his poetry whilst walking here. Why not try to do the same? At least come up with a limerick or two! Perhaps the most apt poem for the current time is by Wordsworth (who also visited the Island and wrote this poem about it): I wandered Lonely as a Cloud.
This is the largest forest on the Island, a perfect place to be alone, and from the edge of which you can see the sea through the trees. Afterwards you can walk down to Mottistone and visit the Longstone. Legend has it that the stone was thrown there by St Catherine from the top of her eponymous down. By throwing it so far, she beat the devil, whose smaller stone fell short, thus good triumphed over evil. In Saxon times it was probably used as a meeting place, but I’m pretty sure you won’t bump into anyone there right now. And try not to recall what happened here in Neolithic times – dead bodies where left out for the birds and animals to pick off the meat before the bones were buried.
Perhaps apt, Newtown was on its way to becoming a mature town when the plague and then the French struck and destroyed much of it. The town never recovered but today is a beautiful place to walk alone whilst seeing a bit of unbusy history.
And when you get back from your lone wanderings you can grab a takeaway from one of the many fantastic places that are now offering delivery services.