Saturday, 30 April 2011

ALUM BAY/THE NEEDLES

When I was a child holidaying on the mainland with my parents, we made a day trip to the Isle of Wight, touring around the island. There are several things which stand out in my memory about that day, and one of them was Alum Bay with its multi-coloured sands. The cliffs at Alum Bay are formed from layers which were once horizontal, but have been uprighted so that the layers are now verticle, and the layers are a variety of colours. This results in different coloured sands, and I remember being fascinated by the souvenirs for sale in the gift shop consisting of glass containers with rainbow layers of alum sands. In Victorian times the sands were used to make artwork, a technique known by the term ‘marmotinto’.

Near Alum Bay is one of southern England’s best known geological features, The Needles, a row of three tall, pointy chalks stacks rising out of the sea at the western extremity of the Isle of Wight. A red and white lighthouse finishes off the row, like a jaunty bookend. Looking at the Needles website, and comparing it with what I remember, it would appear this beauty spot has been given the “Lands End treatment” (see my Lands End post if you are wondering what I mean), i.e. that it has been turned into a quasi themepark, offering “a range of attractions”...”the perfect day out for all the family” – oh dear. Looking at some of the reviews on Tripadvisor it would appear I am not alone in my dismay at seeing yet another wonderful beauty spot turned into an amusement park. No doubt there will be as many people disagreeing – oh well, each to his own.

Map of the area.

Needlesphoto © 2004 Peter Pearson | more info (via: Wylio)

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