"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Isle of Wight - Day 7, 6th July Part 1: "The Pepperpot" and Blackgang Chine

Thursday was hot and sunny again and a little more humid. We drove first to the car park viewpoint just above Blackgang Chine where if you cross the road and climb up the steps and up onto St Catherine's Down you can visit St Catherine's Lighthouse (Oratory) which is known locally as "The Pepperpot". I love the walk up here you get stunning views and there is something rather mystical about the Oratory.

Tennyson - raring to go!

The route - you can just see the Pepperpot - a medieval lighthouse - at the top.


View towards Compton Beach and Freshwater Bay


Getting higher


The Chale Bay Mackerel Scomber scombrus


Nearly there.



The tower is all that remains of an oratory built around 1328. A local legend tells that in 1313 Walter de Godeton, Lord of Chale, stole wine from a shipwreck in Chale Bay. The wine had originally come from a French monastery and he was fined and then threatened with ex-communication unless he erected an oratory with a beacon on Chale (now St Catherine's) Down as his punishment.

He paid a priest to attend and keep the light going and who said masses for the souls of those drowned at sea in the shipwreck. When the monasteries were dissolved around 1538 the oratory was no longer used although the beacon continued to be lit until the 17th century.

For many years we used to stay at Thornbury House in Chale which had views towards the Down and the Pepperpot from some of the windows and I often used to look out at night half expecting to see a light flickering in the windows of the Oratory - I have a vivid imagination!


The Pepperpot is a four-storey octagonal structure build of greensand stone. The eight windows on the third floor form the lantern.


Nearby is a Bronze Age Burial Mound. Excavations revealed a medieval lime kiln close by which may have been used to produce mortar when the oratory was built. A 1925 excavation exposed human and animal bones and flint tools.

Views towards the interior of the island.


Me and Tennyson with the "lighthouse"


Tennyson feeling rather chuffed he accompanied us as Osborne has never been!

One day I would like to continue walking along this particular Down but B and E had remained in the car so it was time to return.

The present day lighthouse, built in 1837 and administered by Trinity House, is at St Catherine's Point, Niton and that is well worth a visit too especially the guided tour.

We spent the rest of the day at Blackgang Chine - the UK's oldest Amusement Park. I do feel a bit hypocritical writing about this visit after my comments about the one at Alum Bay but to be fair Blackgang has a great selection of things to see and there is something for all ages although primarily it is a great place for children. I think that is why D and E insist on returning every holiday as it reminds them of the magic they felt on their first visit when young. From my point of view it meant there were plenty of photo opportunities for Tennyson and the place does have a sort of old-fashioned charm to it!!

Tennyson meeting one of the Blackgang pirates.

First we visited the "Restricted Area" - land of the dinosaurs.

Tennyson getting ready to run if the dinosaur should think of moving which, of course, it did!


This was as close as Tennyson was prepared to go!


Tennyson feeling rather brave sat on this fence post and

even braver!

The park is well laid out and there are lots of shady areas through woodland.

Giant Bug Walk

Tennyson making friends with a gnome.

By this time I had reached Pirate Cove with picnic areas and pirate ships for children to play on. I had lingered behind taking photos and this area was absolutely heaving with school parties and I had no idea where the others had gone. As usual I had left my mobile in the car - I really should have learned my lesson by now!

I decided to walk to Cowboy Town in the hope that was the way they had gone passing Rumpus Mansion (think haunted house) on the way.

More shady woods and Hart's Tongue Fern

Tennyson makes a "friend" but

was absolutely terrified when he came across this family party as father/mother bear looks exceedingly fierce!

I eventually got to Cowboy land - no sign of the family just zillions more school parties so I beat a hasty retreat (I was getting very hot and bothered by this stage) and returned towards Pirate Cove where I came across a new area of an Underwater World. (It later turned out B, D and E had gone in here which must have been why I missed them).

Tennyson quite enjoying his underwater journey.

I wandered off to Fairy Land

Tennyson was most put out at the non-appearance of a prince.

Tennyson found a lovely little house and

chair although I had to point out they were still a little too big for him.

I sat for ages on a bench in this area and eventually was re-united with the others as at long last they decided to visit Fairyland. D took me back to see the weeping angels which I had missed.

I think weeping angels are probably one of the most scary of the Doctor Who "baddie" inventions - they give me the creeps.

Dodo Land is also new.

Tennyson finds yet another pirate!

Tennyson having a rest among the hydrangeas.

There is a hedge maze and a lovely rock and water garden to explore

together with a quirky chimney pot garden.

Then onto Nursery Rhyme Land were Tennyson met an "ent"

and then a friendly pixie.

Time for a sit down and icecream while the others went on the water slide and rollercoaster - one of these visits I will pluck up the courage to have a "go" too.

Hall of Mirrors

Tennyson and whale - I wasn't going to go any closer as the creature spurts water all over you as soon as he senses your presence.

Tennyson found another scary monster as we walked towards the exit.

Views along the coast.


A flock of herons D captured flying in from the sea.


Far too many photos - apologies - I will save the visit to St Andrew's Church, Chale and a pub meal for another post in Part 2. Hopefully, less photos!

*D - Photos taken by D with the Canon bridge SX50


Deborah RusticPumpkin said...

Goodness! I had no idea that the Isle of Wight was just so full of so many diverse things to see and do! I love the story of the St Catherine's Oratory. A cheery Hallo! to Tennyson ~ it looks like he had a grand adventure too, and plenty to share with Osborne!

Ragged Robin said...

Deborah RusticPumpkin - Thanks so much. Yes, lots to see and do - St Catherine's Oratory and Compton Beach are my two favourite places :) Tennyson says thank you and Osborne enjoyed hearing of his adventures! :)

Rosie said...

I too can imagine a flickering lamp light in the oratory window on a dark and stormy night. It looks like an interesting walk up to see it. I can see that Tennyson had a wonderful time at Black Gang Chine and I can quite see how childhood memories would bring you back time after time. I vaguely remember visiting as a child but I expect it has changed a great deal since then, it's just the name I remember rather than what is was like:)

Ragged Robin said...

Rosie - Thank you - good to see someone else with a similar imagination to mine!

I think when you go back you may find the Isle of Wight has in some ways stood still in time - and I mean that as a compliment - it has such an old-fashioned charm to it with a different pace of life :) I've tried remembering where we went when I was child as we visited twice - I think we stayed a Ventnor and Shanklin. I know we went to Alum Bay because I remember the coloured glass ornaments we made and Godshill rings a bell. Unfortunately all the photos of Dad's are slides buried in dozens and dozens of boxes so can't easily check those to remind me! But when on holiday we didn't spend every day on the beach for the 2 weeks so we must have gone to many other places.