Whale Chine

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 50°36′11″N 1°20′19″W / 50.60306°N 1.33861°W / 50.60306; -1.33861

Whale Chine is located in Isle of Wight
Whale Chine
Whale Chine
Whale Chine on the Isle of Wight
The steep sided Whale Chine
Whale Chine from the beach

Whale Chine is a geological feature near Chale on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight, England (the Back of the Wight). One of a number of such chines on the island created by stream erosion of soft Cretaceous rocks, it is a narrow and steep coastal ravine dropping 140 feet through Lower Greensand rocks from clifftop farmland to Chale Bay.

Its name probably originates from the Wavell family, owners of the nearby Atherfield Farm between 1557 and 1636.[1] It is reached from a car park on the A3055 coastal road, where a stream running parallel to the cliff takes a right-angled bend to descend to the beach. Access down the Chine to the beach is sporadically available via wooden steps,[2] but is currently impossible due to their destruction by coastal erosion. [3] Despite the steps forming part of a footpath and legal Right of Way (footpath C34, Chale Parish), the Isle of Wight Council refuses to repair them, stating that "major structural works at great expense would be required to make the path safe for use with no guarantee that such works would be a permanent solution." They have been inaccessible to the public since at least 2005 and subject to a "temporary closure" since then.

Descent to the beach at Whale Chine is by some 126 wooden steps (closed since 2005). The cliffs here were formed in a lake about 100 million years ago, and are famous for their fossilised oysters, ammonites and lobsters.[4]

Whale Chine was the location of the wreck of the cargo ship Cormorant on 21 December 1886.[5]


  1. ^ Finest Landscapes, The Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership Newsletter, Issue 13, citing The Place-Names of the Isle of Wight, A D Mills.
  2. ^ The Jurassic isle of England, Chris Fautley, The Sunday Times, 2 July 2000
  3. ^ Accessing natural history, Helen Slade, Isle of Wight County Press, March 2008 (reproduced at Isle of Wight Natural History & Archaeological Society site, retrieved 3 August 2008
  4. ^ A Stratigraphical Account of the Section from Atherfield to Rocken End on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight, William Henry Fitton, The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Vol. 3, 1847 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008
  5. ^ Wreck Report for 'Cormorant', 1887, PortCities Southampton, retrieved 3 August 2008