Car-free trips toAmazing churchesaround the UK
Whether they are hidden in the dunes near sandy beaches or towering over cobbled lanes and thatched cottages, these very different chapels and churches are all worth visiting. This selection includes quite a few places in East Anglia - an area packed with interesting churches. And a car-free journey to get there is all part of the adventure: a ferry ride, waterside walk, a rural bus ride or an epic coastal train trip.
1. St Enedoc, Trebetherick, Cornwall
The first of our churches car-free is a seaside gem in the middle of a golf course – it was buried in sand dunes for three centuries. The most beautiful way to arrive is via the ferry from Padstow, followed by a mile’s walk along the coast path beside the wide Camel Estuary. The poet John Betjeman loved the church and is buried there.
- How to get to St Enedoc car-free: Padstow ferry runs all year round. Depending on tide times, it arrives on or near the beach in Rock. Padstow has buses from Bodmin or Newquay.
- Walking from Rock, follow the South West Coast Path with the sea on your left and the dunes ahead. Go on around the seaward side of Brea Hill and turn right across the golf course towards the wonky tower of St Enodoc’s. See map below.
- You could choose to go back to Rock via a different route over the golf course. The public paths are marked by white stones. Watch out for golf balls!
- Refreshments: in Rock and nearby Polzeath.
- More in the area: See our car-free guides to Bodmin and Newquay.
2. St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, Essex
One of England’s oldest intact churches, the remote seventh-century chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall is set on a salty slice of Essex coastline. In 654 St Cedd, a Northumbrian monk and bishop, sailed from Lindisfarne and landed near a ruined Roman fort called Othona. He used stone from the fort to build the chapel, modelling it on ancient churches in Egypt and Syria. Walk beside the wide, wild Blackwater Estuary, with views across the water to beach-hut-fringed Mersea Island. Nearby are shell-carpeted beaches, salt marshes and tidal mudflats, with horned poppies and sea lavender. Look out for plovers, all kinds of geese and ducks, curlews and orange-billed oystercatchers.
- The simple, but impressive chapel of St-Peter-on-the-Wall is always open and still used regularly.
- How to get to St Peter’s car-free: DaRT 4 minibus to Bradwell leaves from Southminster railway station six times a day and goes to East Hall Farm, which is about 15 minutes walk from the chapel along a straight, signed track.
- Refreshments at the King’s Head or the Cricketers even closer to the chapel.
3. Duxford Chapel, Whittlesford, Cambridgeshire
Almost next to Whittlesford Parkway station, just beyond half-timbered Red Lion, Duxford Chapel is a different sort of hidden gem – a small, but calm and beautiful fourteenth-century chantry chapel. It’s managed by English Heritage and open during daylight hours. Fans of church art could also walk a mile from the station to visit Duxford village, where the church of S John’s has some amazing wall paintings.
- How to get to Duxford chapel car-free: Whittlesford Parkway is on the railway between London Liverpool Street and Cambridge. The chapel is a few steps from the station, just behind the pub.
- How to get to St John’s, Duxford car-free: Cross the bridge over the railway and walk away from station. Turn left at the crossroads, cross the main road and continue into Duxford. After the creeper-covered house, turn right into St John’s Street.
- Refreshments: Red Lion by the station or lovely Graystones café (01223 836200) in Duxford.