Isle of Wight (2)


This is the second half of the photos from a week’s holiday on the Isle of Wight in May. You can also see the first part.

If you looked at the first part when I originally posted it, you missed the last four photos including a nice boat (no, not that one) - I messed up and left them out. Feel free to go back and take another look right at the end of the page. Or not!

Tuesday: Brook Chine to the Needles and Alum Bay

On Tuesday we set off on a bus to a tiny non-place called Brook, from which we planned to walk along the coast path to the Needles - a famous rock formation on the island (that neither of us had really heard of).

The most notable thing about the first part of the walk for me was a strange haze. It was an amazing day for early May, warm and really sunny almost all of the time, and windy with clear air. But there was a strong haze like mist over everything in the distance. It actually freaked me out slightly because I don’t remember ever seeing weather like that before.

Abandoned building on the clifftop above Brook Chine.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°38′59″N 1°27′19″W
Collapsed clay cliffs seaward of the current path.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′41″N 1°28′20″W

Shortly the geology changed; the cliffs switched from clay to white chalk.

White cliffs ahead, disappearing into the haze.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′54″N 1°28′49″W

We continued for quite some distance to a town (and bay) called Freshwater Bay.

Rocks in Freshwater Bay, which I am pretty sure is actually filled with salt water.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°40′7″N 1°30′20″W
Beach below.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°40′8″N 1°30′25″W

We climbed up from the town on grassy clifftops. Despite the bright sunshine it was incredibly windy: the Needles are also, apparently, famous for often recording the highest wind speeds in the UK. Turns out that you should bring a woolly hat even if you’re also wearing sun cream; the strong wind can be really unpleasant, especially on the ears.

Anyway, we continued past the Tennyson Monument (a big cross thing) along the southern side of this narrow headland for a few miles until we reached the New Battery, now a National Trust site but previously a rocket testing site from the UK’s long-gone ‘space‘/ballistic missile programme. This was also our first view onward to the Needles, which aren’t shaped even remotely like needles.

View past cliffs to the Needles, with lighthouse at end.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′41″N 1°34′44″W
Road past rocket launching platforms.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′41″N 1°34′44″W
Launch pad.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′41″N 1°34′43″W
Part of the New Battery site.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′43″N 1°34′41″W
Inside the New Battery exhibition, with a possibly-authentic paint job.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′44″N 1°34′41″W

After visiting the exhibition, we continued a little further along to the Old Battery, which is also run by the NT (you have to pay to get in to this one). It was once a fort with guns covering this part of the Channel, and it still has a really neat tunnel leading to a searchlight emplacement with a closer view over the Needles.

R waiting for me in the light at the end of the tunnel.
1/30 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800 50°39′46″N 1°35′0″W
Fort wall (not sure it’s structurally sound) and cliff behind.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′45″N 1°34′57″W
Vent from ammunition store in fort.
1/30 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′46″N 1°34′57″W

We walked back along the north side of the headland to Alum Bay, which supposedly has 21 different colours of sand in its cliffs, although most of the colours could fairly be described as ‘sandy’. It’s a tourist attraction, but was closed by the time we arrived.

Multicoloured sand above Alum Bay.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°39′56″N 1°34′1″W

From Alum Bay we caught a bus to Newport and from there to Ventnor.

Wednesday: Newport and Carisbrooke Castle

We returned to Newport, the largest town on the island, where we visited a small Roman villa before finding a café in town for lunch.

Clouds and contrails above Pearl Assurance House (the ground floor is a Co-op).
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′54″N 1°17′40″W
Queen Victoria memorial. (It’s a bit excessive.)
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′59″N 1°17′43″W

Next we visited Carisbrooke Castle. Charles I was once locked up there; it also has a well, the pump for which is operated by donkeys (but not at the time when we visited). Apart from the usual exhibitions, you can also walk around most of the ramparts.

View along the moat, which is somewhat lacking in water (and crocodiles).
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′15″N 1°18′53″W
Stairs up inside a tower.
1/30 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′14″N 1°18′51″W
Old graffiti in a cell.
1/15 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO1600 50°41′14″N 1°18′52″W
Altar in the chapel.
1/15 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′14″N 1°18′49″W
R standing in a slightly ruined tower.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′16″N 1°18′46″W
Moat and manicured grass surround.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°41′13″N 1°18′45″W

Thursday: Niton lighthouses

Before we set off I took pictures from the balcony of our flat.

Here’s the view up the road. Visitors have maintained a consistent car colour palette.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′38″N 1°12′17″W

We took the bus to a small place called Niton and followed a route from our guidebook, starting uphill toward an old lighthouse.

Small leaning tree with equally leaning fenceposts.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′30″N 1°17′16″W
Tree in bright sunlight by path.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′55″N 1°18′13″W
Terraced hilltop.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′45″N 1°18′13″W

St Catherine’s Oratory Lighthouse stands on top of the hill. Allegedly its construction - including an attached chapel with a monk to tend the light - was funded by a merchant who had profited from earlier shipwrecks. The chapel was destroyed in the Reformation, but the lighthouse part remains.

1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′35″N 1°18′13″W
Inside looking up.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′35″N 1°18′14″W

Having reached the highest point, we descended back toward Niton and then continued down through Niton Undercliff (basically a lower part of the village) to another lighthouse.

Through an archway of branches.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′10″N 1°17′23″W
Green slopes and the sea, with the path down (it switches back and forth a lot).
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′52″N 1°17′51″W
Narrow cave.
1/30 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′52″N 1°17′54″W
Gateway to nothing. Incidentally, Marconi carried out early wireless experiments near here.
1/500 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′38″N 1°17′47″W
Waves breaking over rocks.
1/1000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′31″N 1°18′1″W

The relatively modern St Catherine’s Lighthouse still works, but you can also get guided tours - the volunteer who showed us around was really helpful.

Stairs up the lighthouse.
1/60 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′32″N 1°17′51″W
Clock showing the revolving light.
1/125 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′32″N 1°17′52″W
Fresnel lens around the light itself.
1/250 at f4, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′32″N 1°17′52″W
View of lighthouse complex.
1/2000 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°34′34″N 1°17′51″W

We walked back up the hill to the main village and its bus stop.

‘The Tunnels’ footpath in Niton.
1/60 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO1600 50°34′54″N 1°17′10″W


Friday was a more relaxing day. We had a look at the local museum in Ventnor, before visiting the picturesque village of Godshill which has a model village (quite fun, but I don’t have any good pictures from it) and a chocolate shop.

In the evening, while R rested, I took a short walk along the coastal path west from Ventnor to Steephill Cove and back.

Rain shelter by path.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′30″N 1°12′49″W
Rocks near Steephill Cove.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′19″N 1°13′24″W
Incomprehensible sign on floor in Steephill Cove.
1/125 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°35′20″N 1°13′23″W

R came out with me to see the view in Ventnor a little way from our flat.

Car park and sea defences below.
1/15 at f8, 23mm, ISO800 50°35′36″N 1°12′6″W
R at the viewpoint (I told her to look pensive).
1/60 at f2.8, 23mm, ISO800 50°35′36″N 1°12′8″W

We walked back to our flat past the art deco Winter Palace.

Our flat is visible on the first floor, with lights on its balcony.
1/60 at f5.6, 23mm, ISO400 50°35′36″N 1°12′16″W


We took the bus back to Ryde and got the hovercraft back to the mainland, but only after a brief walk out onto the ferry pier.

Disused part of pier, with working railway station behind.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°44′16″N 1°9′39″W
Train going one way, hovercraft the other.
1/250 at f8, 23mm, ISO200 50°44′6″N 1°9′37″W

Overall we had a really nice holiday; it was well worth visiting (and not just for the ice cream).

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.