Saturday, 30 April 2011


Two more sea stacks, mini versions of The Needles, can be found in Freshwater Bay, products of the highly eroded chalk cliffs. The poet Lord Tennyson lived here between 1853 and 1864 in Farringford House, which is now a hotel. The memory of his time there lives on in the form of a trail named after him, The Tennyson Trail, just over 16 miles long, from Carisbrooke Castle to The Needles. In 1970, the area near Freshwater known as East Afton Down was the scene of another cultural phenomenon: the infamous Isle of Wight Festival of that year, Britain’s answer to Woodstock, featuring such giants as The Doors, The Who, Joni Mitchell and Jimi Hendrix, who gave one of his last great performances before his death. This wasn’t the first rock festival on the island, but is probably the best remembered, unfortunately not necessarily for the right reasons. There were a number of violent incidents, and the police had to intervene when a group of Hells Angels started causing trouble. The spine of East Afton Down, which takes in part of the Tennyson Way, was nicknamed Desolation Row during the festival, due to the fact that those who were unwilling or unable to pay to get into the festival congregated there for a free listen. Eventually the masses gathered there succeeded in tearing down the fences which were meant to keep them out, and the festival was declared free.

Map of the area.

Freshwater Bayphoto © 2007 Alistair Young | more info (via: Wylio)

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