Posts Tagged ‘shanklin’

“The island is ours. Here, in some way, we are young forever.”
― E. Lockhart

We recently ventured over to the Isle of Wight, something we try and do at least once a year, and a had a week of sunshine and breathtaking views. We chose a coach house in the grounds of a larger property and we weren’t sure until we arrived whether the views would be any good for Photography… Well they were absolutely amazing. On a good day there was a great view of The Needles and each sunset was incredible. The property itself was gorgeous with lots of traditional farmhouse charm.

We had no specific agenda, we knew the views that we wanted to revisit and we had a few ideas of new places that we wanted to explore. With my health not being in top form this year, we couldn’t plan to walk too far and yet we ended up covering miles in the end. Totally unplanned which I think made it easier to achieve!

The Isle of Wight has traditional views such as Freshwater Bay, Ventnor, Brading Downs, The Needles and of course all of the stunning seascapes you can capture from the end of the Military Road. But this time we wanted to capture the harder places, and there are definitely some gems hidden away. We had kept an eye on local Photographers works leading up to the trip and our first stop was to try and get to St Catherine’s Lighthouse without walking too far…

Once we found it though, with the sun briskly setting behind us, we decided that the only thing to do to explore the views further was to climb. And so we did. We climbed the hill overlooking the Lighthouse (later in the holiday finding a car park at the top but nevermind!) and we were not disappointed.

St Catherine’s Lighthouse is not accessible by road. It’s one of the oldest Lighthouses in the UK… constructed in 1838. (Some sites state that it was 1323, actually that seems to be when a Lighthouse further away on St Catherine’s Down was built, this is now just a ‘shell’ of stone and is known locally as ‘The Pepperpot’).

Another view that we wanted to capture was Steephill Cove. This is again on the sunny side of the Island and is located in Ventnor, home to the Botanical Gardens (which were INCREDIBLE!) We walked through the gardens to the coastal path and then on down to Steephill Cove as again, this is a cove that is untouched by motor vehicles and is only accessible by a steep climb down…and back up again.

Time stood still in this beautiful place  which was just a glorious suntrap. A little hut selling cold drinks meant that we could walk along the beach sipping ginger beer (or cream soda in my case!) and then induling in a New Forest Ice Cream further along. The fact that you couldn’t just turn up in your car made this even more special.

The Isle of Wight is greatly underestimated in terms of a holiday destination… and even a place to live. Although the crossing on the Ferry is quite expensive I think that’s what protects this Island from being overrun. We went via Wightlink Ferries, known affectionately by many as Shitelink..and yet they had just upgraded and the ferry had cosy sofa’s, coffee bars and excellent seating. ll very surreal compared to the old days of plastic chairs, smelly corridors and sticky floors…

It has taken me absolutely ages to finish this blog, with one thing or another creeping up on me and essays that needed to be written. The actual holiday was about a month ago! There are lots of fabulous meadow photos and memories to blog next from Father’s Day…

I also started a book review blog. Tea Leaves and reads! Head over and check it out on Facebook or on WordPress.

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“I fell in love at the seaside,
I handled my charm with time and slight of hand.”

– The Kooks

The plan to have internet whilst on an Island and still be able to blog daily with the images I’ve taken – didn’t work. We were so remote, my friends and I, that there wasn’t even a phone signal unless you sat in a certain place on the sofa with the phone balanced just so. But you know what? It was perfect, probably even more so without the intrusion of technology. Tucked nicely on the edge of a cliff, just around the ravine that nestles the famed Needles rock formation – was my home for four nights.

We left Mainland England behind us on Thursday with rainy skies and a chill in the air. When we arrived on the Isle of Wight we were greeted with brilliant blue skies, temperatures of up to 23 degrees Celsius and that summer holiday feeling. We were far too early so of course it seemed natural to go to the Isle of Wight Pearl – a beautiful place that overlooks endless sea and clifftops – and has exquisite jewellery. We explored a lot of the Island – lots more than we expected because of the rain, but we didn’t let it stop the holiday! We also had great photographic moments – with our fox cub visitors!

I took photographs every single day – but thought one blog now, would be sufficient. I’ve included a gallery at the bottom for those who want to skip the wordy bits! Enjoy…

The Needles

As I mentioned before – we were lucky enough to secure a restored hall as our home for the duration of the holiday. It’s now separated into three cottages, although we felt like ours took up all of the space as it was huge! The ceilings were wide and tall, the building was vintagey and old and every little touch was cute and quaint and fitted the general feel of the place. We overlooked The Needles! As you will see in the images, The Needles are three stacks of chalk that rise out of the sea near to Alum Bay. The lighthouse (working but no longer manned) sits on the end of the formation and was built in 1859.

The Needles used to be four instead of three. However the fourth needle shaped pillar collapsed in 1764. Above The Needles is now a pleasure park with a chair lift down the cliff to the bay that they are located on. We didn’t brave it this time – but I have done before and it’s breath-taking but daunting! Every day thousands of people visit The Needles, and we were able to be a part of it, although nicely tucked away and secluded.

The site also housed an artillery battery from the 1860s and the Down above was used to test rockets in 1956. The Old and New Battery are both able to be seen and walked around. We walked down the back of the Old Battery to the Needles viewpoint – amazingly steep and daunting, but beautiful. It was windy – too windy almost. Although the cliffs are only closed when the wind reaches speeds of force 8. It felt like force 10! In the shot below, right over in the distance are the cottages we stayed in – the furthest ones you can see and nicely remote!

The area is also home to Alum Bay – which is famed for its colorful sands. They give the shape and definition of the cliffs something different and almost surreal – stripy in a way!

Shanklin Old Village

The Old Village is very much attached to the new – but also very much a completely different world. It’s like stepping back in time, in a sense. The village houses a majority of thatched buildings, sweet shops, cider shops, pubs and tea rooms. We weren’t there in the evenings, but I’ve driven through before in the dark and it’s magical with fairy lights and wonderfully illuminated shop fronts. It was worth stopping by for lunch and a browse!

Dimbola Lodge

Dimbola Lodge won my heart. It’s the former home and studio of Julia Margaret Cameron. She was a Victorian Photographer. The Lodge was originally two houses that Julia bought and merged together by building a tower between the two. It’s beautiful and the exhibitions of her work (and others) inside were wonderful. Julia was known as a pioneer of photography especially for women because she handled cameras and chemicals during the times when photography was considered a black art. She photographed so many celebrities, and so many unknown faces – and she’s incredibly inspiring.

Whilst Julia’s work captured my inspiration, Dorothy Bohm’s opened my eyes to the fact that there’s no boundary where photography is concerned, you can go on forever and you might always be discovering something new. Dorothy Bohm wrote A world observed which is now, thanks to the lodge, in my possession and has already been perused several times! Her Photography features black and white images of women and children from the 1940s to the 1980s. Casual spontaneous portraits – classical work!

Dimbola Lodge had an area where you could dress up and they encouraged you to take pictures with their camera and then print them off testing some of the newer olympus equipment. So naturally, we encouraged one of our friends to don the attire and snapped away! There was also a bedroom left in the set up it would have been in during Julia’s days, which again was quite photographic. Dimbola Lodge (near Freshwater Bay) is a must see if you want to get away for a few hours and browse.

Additionally it houses Cameron’s bookshop – a tiny little bookshop tucked away with wall to wall – floor to ceiling – stacks of old books for sale! We spent a good 45 minutes browsing there too!

St Agnes Church

Just up the road from the lodge is St Agnes Church – an adorable little Church with a thatched roof! I’ve never seen that before and it’s the only one of its kind on the Island. That might sound like not a big deal – but there are a LOT of churches on the Isle of Wight. Unfortunately it was closed, despite saying it would be open! But we got a nice look at the outside. The church dates from 1908 but contains a stone in its wall that dates 1622 which, understandably, confused people for a while!


Yarmouth is a place I love visiting. It’s a little port on the western side of the Isle of Wight – coincidentally the one we sailed in and out of. It’s one of the earliest settlements on the Isle of Wight and it’s just perfectly beautiful. Cobbled narrow streets, old book shops, modern trinket shops and pubs make up the majority of the shopping area but the harbour with the boats and views is also quite lovely. It’s one of the smallest towns in the UK with a population of just 791 people. (2001). We ventured here on the open top bus and spent an afternoon eating and wandering around buying things!

“May you always have a shell in your pocket and sand in your shoes.”

“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
-John Masefield –
Sea Fever

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