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Stepping into Shanklin Chine is like stepping into another world. Peaceful, tranquil and calm are words that spring to mind when I think back on my visits to Shanklin Chine, and I definitely recommend a visit.
**History and Location**
Shanklin Chine is located in Shanklin Old Village on the Isle of Wight. Shanklin is a small, historic seaside town, located next to Sandown on the Eastern side of the Island. Formation of the Chine or 'gorge' has taken place over 10,000 years. It's quite strange to think that you're walking through something that has taken so long to form! The word 'chine' means a deep, narrow ravine, and the word is now only used on the Isle of Wight and Dorset. Shanklin Chine drops down 105ft to sea level, and is just over a quarter of a mile long.
You can access the Chine in two ways. The first is from within the Old Village, and you will be walking down the chine. The second way in is from Shanklin beach, and you will be walking back up the chine. There is car parking nearby, though the Chine itself doesn't have an exclusive car park. We've always visited by walking down the chine from the top, and then back again, so I have experienced it in both directions.
The chine is, to put it simply: beautiful. Upon
entering (from the top), you pass through the small ticket hut, and are immediately greeted with a sense of calm and peacefulness. The sound of running water is prevalent, as immediately to your right is a waterfall, flowing from the top of the chine into a stream at the bottom. It tumbles over the roughly hewn rock that is on all sides of the chine. The first part of the gorge leads you down stone steps, and so the chine is probably not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs.
A stony path leads the way through the chine, with the stream winding its way along the floor of the chine as well. The path continues, sloping slightly further down and on either side you're confronted by nature at its finest. Various plaques along the way show details of the plants and wildlife you may see, and the Chine calls this the 'nature trail'. When you pay, you get a map which also displays this. Small wooden beams form fences on either side of the path, so that you can look over into the stream but not go too far!
It is difficult to describe the chine, as it is really nothing more than a walk through, with beautiful nature and natural wildlife on either side. However, the feeling of peace and calm is very present, and it's wonderfully cool down there on a hot day! As you reach the beach-end of the Chine, there are a few more things to look at and do.
There's the beginning of P.L.U.T.O - PipeLine Under The Ocean, 65 yards of which is still left today. This is leftover from the Second World War, and carried petrol from Shanklin Chine and Sandown to Cherbourg under the English Channel. There are some information placards about this in the Chine.
There are a couple of cages with chipmunks in, which are always an attraction for young children. Next to this you've got a set of stocks, which provide a great photo opportunity. At this point, the path splits in two, with one way leading up to a lookout point. There's a telescope there, which you can put money in and look out over the bay. The other path leads to the cafe and heritage centre.
**Cafe and Heritage Centre**
The cafe has an indoor and outdoor seating area, and serves the general fare: tea, coffee, cakes and ice cream. It's lovely to sit out on the patio in the summer with a cake and a cuppa, and listen to the trickling of water and the relative silence of the Chine. If I remember correctly, the prices were quite reasonable.
Next to the cafe is the heritage centre, where you can read about the history of the Chine and that part of the Island. I've never been particularly interested in this section, but some of the old photographs are quite interesting to look at. There's also a shop, where you can buy gifts. Past the heritage centre is the exit onto the beach. Be warned though - if you decide to go out onto the beach, you can't go back into the Chine again without paying.
**Prices and Opening Times**
Between March and May, and September and October, the Chine is open from 10am to 5pm. In the summer months between May and September, it is open between 10am and 10pm. I have never visited late at night, but I am told that it is illuminated and I imagine it looks great.
Adults: £3.75 Senior Citizens: £2.75 Children £2 Family Tickets available
You can also buy a guidebook at either of the two entrances. This is interesting to read, as it mainly covers the history of the chine and the nature and wildlife within.
If you want to take some time out from the hustle and bustle of your daily life, or your holiday, Shanklin Chine is a great place to visit. It's peaceful, calm and tranquil, and lovely and cool on a hot day. There are a lot of steps and uneven surfaces, so I perhaps would recommend it only for those who are confident on their feet, and it is not suitable for people in wheelchairs or for pushchairs. I'd definitely recommend!