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Bradshaw’s Guide


The Needles, I., Isle of Wight, England. Taken between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900. Original: Library of Congress

Freshwater Gate, where the baths and lodging houses are stationed, is half a mile from the village, on the south side of the Downs in a gap of the cliffs, which rise up 500 and 600 feet above the sea, white and dazzling, producing a grand effect. They are streaked with parallel lines of flint. Lobsters, &c., are good. Here is the residence of Alfred Tennyson, the poet laureate.

Between this and the Needles are several remarkable objects, most of which can be visited only in a boat (10s. or 20s. the trip), when there is little sea. Even with fine weather the long swell is apt to be disagreeable.

In Freshwater Bay, fronting the baths are Deer Island; Neshanter cave, 120 feet deep, 35 wide; the Arch Rock, 600 feet out from the shore; Watcombe bay and its caves; Neptune’s cave, 200 feet long; Beak cave, 90 feet; High Down Cliff, 217 feet high, swarming with puffins, razor-birds, &c.; Frenchman’s Hole, 90 feet; Holmes’s Parlour and Kitchen; Roe’s Hall, 600 feet long, close to the Wedge Rock, so called because of a great block jammed in a gap, into which it has fallen; Old Pepper Rock; Main Bench Cliff, full of birds; Scratchell’s Bay and Scratchell’s Cave, 200 feet high, with an overhanging roof; Needles Cave, 300 feet long; the Needles Rocks, four or five blunt peaks, with deep water round them, at the west end of the Island. There was a sharp rock 120 feet high, but it fell down in 1776. On the cliffs above, 469 feet high, is the lighthouse, seen 27 miles.

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