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 and Jurassic 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. 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. In the past, descent to the beach at Whale Chine could be achieved by some 126 wooden steps, since their closure in 2005, these steps were washed away by the sea in the winter storms of 2013/14. Local fisherman have achieved access to the beach by the means of a rope and some carved steps, although it is not recommended. Despite the old steps forming part of a footpath and legal Right of Way (footpath C34, Chale Parish), the Isle of Wight Council refused 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.
Geologically the cliffs here belong to the Wealden supergroup and were deposited in a large scale meandering river and floodplain facies about 150 million years ago. The cliffs are famous for their fossil content which are commonly found in flash flood sandy deposits. These deposits can usually be recognized by the abundance of pyrite rich fossilized wood, and usually form as trough shapes. These troughs are characteristic of infilled stream channels caused by the deposition of the high energy carried material and organisms. Due to this the deposits are poorly sorted and the fossils amongst them are usually broken up.
Whale Chine is a popular fishing spot for many anglers. It boosts very clear sandy ground with intermittent rock features. The species caught here vary, but it is locally known as one of the best spots on the island for ray fishing: This is best from March–October. All summer species can be caught here, and it's not uncommon for shoals of mackerel and bass to drive whitebait onto the shore. Throughout the winter the fishing declines abit, with pout being the most common fish caught.
Whale Chine was the location of the wreck of the cargo ship Cormorant on 21 December 1886.
- Walker's guide to the Isle of Wight, Martin Collins, Norman Birch, Cicerone Press, 2000, ISBN 1-85284-221-0 Google Books, retrieved 3 August 2008
- 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.
- The Jurassic isle of England, Chris Fautley, The Sunday Times, 2 July 2000
- Strachan, Rob (2012). Geological History of Britain and Ireland. Wiley-Blackwell. Check date values in:
- 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
- Wreck Report for 'Cormorant', 1887, PortCities Southampton, retrieved 3 August 2008