Monday, 17 July 2017
Isle of Wight Day 4 - 3rd July: Niton, Shanklin Old Village and Shanklin Chine, Red Squirrel and Evening Walk round Brook
Another lovely day weather-wise. We decided to visit Shanklin and stopped off at Niton on the way as B wanted to compare pub prices at the White Lion there with the Sun!!
We have talked of moving to the Isle of Wight and D and E are very keen although I do worry whether they would find jobs over there and there is the added situation with both our mothers who are in a nursing home with advanced dementia. We didn't bother making any interior viewings on the holiday as there isn't anything on the market in West Wight at the moment which attracts us (well there is a gorgeous detached thatched cottage in Arreton but B doesn't "Do" old and quaint sadly and he has horrors at the thought of thatch with maintenance and fire risk!) but we did look at the a couple of houses for sale from the outside while in Niton.
I hadn't seen this one on any websites but it had very little back garden. Another property we did drive past which had looked lovely on the website and was very roomy inside with fantastic country views was actually quite hideous from the outside :(
The White Lion - we did have a super meal here on the last evening.
We had a quick look round Shanklin and then spent the rest of the morning in the the Old Village.
Shanklin Theatre - I believe the building is haunted but I can't find the right ghost book! I will edit the post later if I can find it after checking with D as the books are his.
Edit - Found the book now "The Original Ghosts of the Isle of Wight" by Gay Baldwin. Chapter 3 tells of ghostly footsteps and "cold spots" in the theatre and a greyish figure with white hair has been seen. It is believed it may be the ghost of Albert Dubois who in the 1890's gave monologues as an old time entertainer in what was then the old Shanklin Pier Theatre. He died after his second season there.
There are two very good fossil shops not far from the Old Village - one is Dinosaur Jim where I bought a lovely gem necklace for a £1!!! plus a very good hand lens with a light which I am hoping will let me examine some of the insect inclusions I have in amber. The other shop is the Fossil Cavern - I could have spent a fortune but ended up just adding a trilobite to my collection which D bought to give me for my birthday.
I also popped into the Tourist Information Shop - I was having problems with the card holder on my camera shutting and I managed to scrounge some sellotape from them! I fell in love with a lovely pirate Isle of Wight teddy but talked myself out of it - telling myself if I changed my mind I would buy it from the shop in Yarmouth on the last day. (Of course I did change my mind but then horrors of horrors the lovely tourist info shop in Yarmouth has now closed and there is just a small outlet in the Harbour Master's office - so I never did buy pirate bear).
A shell shaped Wishing Well
A shop dedicated wholly to Christmas!
The Crab Inn is haunted by a white lady sometimes seen in the oldest part of the inn - people at some tables have reported feeling a sudden chill!
There are loads and loads of shops, tea-rooms and pubs offering cream teas in and near the Old Village - you are spoilt for choice!
This craft shop was superb and full of handmade goodies all made on the island. I treated myself to a piece of glass covered in frosted flowers in purples and pinks which reminded me of flowers seen earlier on the holiday on the Downs.
After eating our sandwiches in the car park :( we decided to visit Shanklin Old Chine in the afternoon.
Chines are steep-sided river valleys where rivers erode the soft clays and sands as they enter the sea via coastal cliffs. The word "chine" derives from the Saxon word "cinan" meaning a gap or a yawn. The word chine is only in use on the Isle of Wight, Hampshire and Dorset.
The exact number of chines varies - the ever evolving nature of the coastline means that over time some are destroyed and others created. The lush vegetation and steep sides provide shelter on normally exposed coastlines so they are often good for wildlife. In the past they were frequently used by smugglers. Chines are found on the south-west and north-west coast of the island. Examples include Shanklin, Luccombe, Shepherd's, Chilton, Brook, Cowleaze, Shippards, Compton, Alum Bay and Colwell.
Shanklin Chine was first opened to the public in 1817. Formation of the chine has taken place over the last 10,000 years. It is a quarter of a mile long with a 105 feet drop to sea-level. It was used by smugglers and reputedly there is a tunnel which leads from the Chine Inn to the Old Village.
Early visitors included Keats who was inspired by Shanklin and stayed there in 1819. Victorian literary figures who visited the chine included George Eliot, Macauley, Dickens and Longfellow and in 1813 Jane Austen described it as "lovely".
During World War 2 the Chine was used by Commandos as an assault course. 40 Royal Marine Commandos trained there in 1942 in preparation for the Dieppe raid. The secret PLUTO (pipeline under the ocean) ran through the chine and was the idea of Lord Mountbatten. During the Normandy invasion in 1944 pipelines from this chine and Sandown carried petrol under the channel to Cherbourg and delivered 56,000 gallons a day.
The main waterfall at the top is 45 feet with a smaller one of 29 feet lower down.
The chine is famous for its flora and fauna with 150+ wild plant species record and more than 50 species of mosses and liverworts - some of which are quite rare. They have had problems with Japanese Knotweed in the water garden lower down but this is now controlled.
Tree species in the chine include Wych Elm, Sycamore, Alder, Elder and Beech. There are nine species of liverwort and 25 different species of moss and several of horsetail. - See photos below but please don't ask me to name them!! :)
The smell of wild garlic in the Lower Chine was still really strong - they must have a superb display in the Spring.
Wild arum berries forming
We had a superb Cream Tea in
Annie's Tea Room
The scones really were superb - probably the best I have ever tasted while out apart from some we once bought in a bakery at Corfe Castle, Dorset and I don't think those will ever be beaten!
A female blackbird looking for scone crumbs.
As we left the tearooms we were really lucky to see a Red Squirrel on the bird table and feeders. My camera with the 14-42mm lens would never have managed a photo so these are taken by D - not easy to get a photo with the low light and leaves and branches in the way!
The chine is lit up at night and I would imagine it is a magical sight - we have never really stopped near enough to Shanklin to visit late in the evening.
An evening walk around Brook.
In the next post on Day 5 we left the car in Freshwater and caught one of the "Breezer" open top tours visiting The Old and New Batteries at the Needles, Alum Bay, Yarmouth and the Dimbola museum in Freshwater followed by an evening meal at a wonderful pub in Niton which was a smugglers'haunt.
*D - photos taken by D with Canon bridge SX50