The Needles Landmark & Battery, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight

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.

http://needlespleasurecruises.co.uk/

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.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/the-needles-old-battery-and-new-battery

We’ll let the photos tell the story of our visit because we saw too much to talk about and took plenty of snaps.

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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.

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Here are a few more photos taken at the Old Battery throughout the afternoon:-

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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.

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri

Weymouth, Dorset – Jurassic Coast Adventure Pt 3

Day 5, and we travelled 18 miles or so further westwards along the Dorset coast towards the seaside resort of Weymouth.  We stayed on a fully serviced gravel pitch at a private site – East Fleet Touring Park in Chickerell, just a couple of miles outside the centre of Weymouth.  Just along the driveway from site up to the main road, you can easily catch a bus into Weymouth, or alternatively there are plenty of taxi services.

The touring site lies along part of the 18 mile stretch of Chesil Beach, which for much of its stretch, including this part, is separated from the mainland by an area of saline water called Fleet Lagoon.  The touring site is in a idyllic setting situated within a 200 acre organic farm.  We stayed in the ‘Stable Field’ area and the facilities were second to none that we have experienced before – Norwegian pine log cabin unisex luxury shower suites with underfloor heating.  VERY impressive!

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This site has an Old Barn family bar which we noted was also used by some locals, giving a friendly and welcoming buzz to the place.  We picked some useful tips & information from chatting to a local chap there.

The bar itself does not offer food, but there are a couple of evenings when food is available from local vendors on site – Portland Pizza Company with their wood fired pizza oven and Bennett’s award winning Fish and Chips.  We tucked into the fish and chips one night and they tasted sensational after a long day out and about.  We ate back on Jolly but you have the option of eating at the bar or even ordering a takeaway to be delivered to the bar if you prefer.

http://www.eastfleet.co.uk/

http://www.weymouth.co.uk/

The most charming location in Weymouth, for us, is the 17th Century Old Harbour.  It is home to a number of good pubs and restaurants and was always bustling.  We spent two of our three evenings here, where you can watch the fishing boats returning with their day’s catch and just generally watch the world go by.

http://www.waterfrontweymouth.co.uk/

Our favourite meal of our stay in Weymouth was at Mallam’s Restaurant on the harbour front.  It was something a little special washed down with a couple of cheeky champagne cocktails.  Delicious fayre and lovely staff, making it the perfect evening.  We would recommend this one without hesitation.

http://www.mallamsrestaurant.co.uk/

One day we hopped on the Jurassic Coaster bus, at the end of the campsite’s driveway, and headed to the quaint little village of Abbotsbury to visit the well known Abbotsbury Swannery.  The Jurassic Coaster bus service runs the length of the coast from Poole to Exeter and is ideal to hop on/off as you explore the many towns and villages along the coastline.

jurassicbus

We spent an enjoyable day in and around Abbotsbury village with its shops and tearoom, but most importantly for us was experiencing the Swannery with its colony of nesting mute swans.  This is a must if you’re in this area of Dorset.  It’s the only managed colony of these swans in the world.  We were lucky to see cygnets hatching before our eyes and take photos as we walked among the colony of swans.  There’s also a subtropical garden to visit and a children’s farm for families.

http://abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk/swannery/

As you enter/leave the Swannery, there’s a Barnes Wallis Dam-busting ‘Bouncing Bomb’ which was tested on the Fleet back in 1943, an interesting piece of wartime history and in stark contrast to the tranquility of the Fleet today.

Also, during our stay at this touring park, we used public transport from Weymouth front to cross over to the Isle of Portland with the aim of visiting the lighthouse there.  Unfortunately, however, the Portland Bill lighthouse was closed to visitors as there was work being undertaken on it.  It’s a Grade II listed functioning lighthouse and we’d hoped to go up it and have a nosy.  No worries though, it was a hot and sunny day so instead we just enjoyed taking in the local area and scenery, with some light refreshment along the way.  We spent a relaxing afternoon on the island.

http://m.visit-Dorset.com/things-to-do/portland-bill-lighthouse-p683283

The time was really beginning to fly by on our Jurassic Adventure, and we were thoroughly enjoying our first touring experience of any length.  The next morning we were heading off West again to Charmouth, our final destination …

ONWARD!>>>>

Suzie & Bri