We spent a day at Alum Bay. Although it’s only approx. 3 miles from the campsite we caught the bus as the roads for the route weren’t ideal for cycling. We caught the Southern Vectis No.7 Newport-Alum Bay bus from the bus stop just outside the site entrance. The name of the site bus stop is ‘Heathfield Road Top’ and the stop for the return trip is just a little further up across the road.
It was a superb day out and the continuing wonderful weather we were enjoying really made it special. Our day was filled with stunning scenery, a chairlift ride down to the beach & back up, a boat ride around the Needles rocks & lighthouse, and an open top bus ride up to the Needles Old & New Batteries for what turned out to be a fascinating and informative couple of hours of military history.
Firstly though, on arrival we purchased tickets for the chairlift ride. The cost was £6 each return, but they advised us at the ticket office that it was cheaper to buy a book of tickets for £9 which would cover us both for the ride. So that’s obviously what we did.
We’d previously read that the chairlift wasn’t for the faint hearted. However, never ones to let the possibility of plummeting from a great height and crashing down onto a rocky cliff face to deter us, we gave it a go.
The point where it first takes you over the cliff edge is a bit of a squeaky bum moment, but we really enjoyed it. It’s a slow and gentle ride and luckily it was a very still and clear day. The impressive views over the beach, out to sea, and of the Needles in the distance took most of our attention.
Once down at the beach we decided to take the pleasure boat ride on ‘Ramblin’Rose’ out to the Needles rocks and lighthouse to get a closer view and some photos.
The boat ride also provided good views of the unusual multi-coloured sand cliffs.
There are apparently 21 different shades of colour and, according to the Needles Landmark Attraction website, the reason for this is:-
“Approximately 70 million years ago, the sea bed rose, was eroded and then sank beneath the sea again. The new sea was shallow and it laid down a series of sands and clays. Some 10 million years later, movement in the bedrock caused these sediments to be pushed nearly vertically to form the multi-coloured cliffs that are visible today”
The sands are made of three minerals – quartz, felspar and mica, and in their pure state are white with other colours being produced through contamination by other minerals.
We brought home a memento glass jar of the sand from the gift shop like most people probably do.
After exploring the beach for a while we rode back up the cliff and hopped on the open top ‘Needles Breezer’ bus which took us up to the Old and New Needles Batteries. It was a refreshing, blustery ride up the coastal road. Alternatively, there’s a coastal footpath you can walk up. We’d love to return to this area and explore Tennyson Down which we didn’t have the time to do on this trip.
The Needles Battery is a National Trust attraction and we decided to become members while we were there. We had been meaning to join for a while. The membership took immediate effect so we got free entrance into the Old Battery. The New Battery is free to everyone.
We’ll let the photos tell the story of our visit because we saw too much to talk about and took plenty of snaps.
Half way through our wander up there, we called into the 1940s style cafe for tea and cake. It’s so authentic that we really felt like we’d been transported back in time. In fact, I can still hear Glen Miller as I type … 🎺 🎶
We poked our noses in pretty much every room, nook and cranny of the site, finishing up in the tunnel to the searchlight which has windows looking directly out at the chalk stacks that are The Needles. Not sure how long exactly we were there but the time flew by.
Here are a few more photos taken at the Old Battery throughout the afternoon:-
Well that was quite enough excitement for one day 🙂 so we caught the No.7 back to site.
Next day we were going to the Yarmouth Harbour area as we’d only driven through it on arrival.
Suzie & Bri