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Ventnor is a rapidly improving and extending town, with an elegant and commodious church, and hotels and lodginghouses in abundance. Three or four days might be delightfully spent in roaming about the Undercliff and its immediate vicinity by making this the starting point. Ventnor Cove' with its sandstone cliffs, presents a peculiarly picturesque appearance. A projecting portion of the rock has been quite worn through by the sea, and now forms a natural archway, as romantic as could be desired.
Still onward from Ventnor, towards Blackgang, and a picturesque spring, flowing through the mouth of a dolphin, will be found worthy of notice, to the right. In such high veneration was this formerly held by seamen, that in passing this place it was customary for vessels to lower their topmast, in reverence to St. Boniface, its patron saint. Westward is Puckaster Cove, and the straggling village of St. Lawrence, next encountered, has the peculiar distinction of possessing the smallest church in England, its height to the eaves being only six feet; and, until recently lengthened by the late Earl of Yarborough, its dimensions were only twenty feet in length by twelve in width. At Rocken End, a little further, the Undercliff may be said to terminate, and immediately above this spot is St. Catherine's Hill, the most elevated point in the island, being 800 feet above the level of the sea at low water mark. A lighthouse was erected here in 1840, from the summit of which a magnificent panoramic view is obtained of the whole island, and encircling within the scope of vision, on a fine day, the Hampshire coast, with the New Forest, Southampton Waters, the downs of Sussex, Beechy Head, the isles of Portland and Purbeck, and part of the French coast, near Cherbourg. Near here, on the descent of the hill, is Niton, a
pretty little village; and about a mile further on, along the coast, is the Royal Sandrock Hotel, which derives its name and celebrity from a valuable chalybeate spring, discovered by Mr. Waterworth, a surgeon at Newport, in 1807. From the threshold of this hotel will be observed a delightful marine landscape. Extending on each side will be seen those noble projecting cliffs, which, in their boldness and grandeur, are distinguishing features of the coast, and behind are the remarkable range of rocks which give the name to the vicinity, with cottages gleaming through the foliage of the trees as triumphs of human industry over the wildness and the wreck of nature.
Proceeding in a westerly direction towards Chale Bay is, at the distance of one mile and a half, the famous chine of Blackgang, a gloomy fissure that, like a chasm in the Alps, looms with stupendous grandeur on the eye of the spectator; whilst the cliffs on each side rise to the height of five hundred feet, there is not a trace of vegetation on their surface. All is rugged and bare, as if its elements of attraction were more of the sublime than the beautiful. When the wind blows freshly from the south-west an echo of a startling character may furnish a very interesting experiment in acoustics. The hotel near the summit, with its ample album, should not fail to be inspected.
Chale Bay, which is about three miles in extent, is so dangerous in stormy weather that the strongest Newfoundland dog has been found unable to gain the shore from even a short distance. Before leaving the vicinity of the Undercliff, the tourist should contrive a visit to Appuldurcombe, the ancient seat of the Worsley family, and situated one mile south from Godshill. The fine collections of paintings, works of art, &c. are open to the public every Tuesday and Friday, by tickets, procurable from Messrs. Sewell, of Newport.
A pleasant walk or ride of six miles from Blackgang will bring us to Brixton, a neat village with a couple of respectable inns in it. From this place we pass on through Mottestone, with its interesting Druidical remains, to Brooke, where mounds and tumuli, supposed to be coeval with the first Saxon invasion, may be found in the neighbourhood. Aston Down, five hundred feet high, affords another delightful view. From Aston Down the wall over to Freshwater Gate will be by many considered as interesting a feat of pedestrianism as can be found in the island. Eastward arise the dark stern cliffs of Blackgang and the horizon-bounded sea; southward are seen innumerable cottages and hamlets, with their church spires glittering in the summer sunshine; and directly in front, or westward, gleam the white cliffs of Freshwater, Yarmouth, with the river which gives the local appellation, and a tract of fertile country rich and varied in extreme. : Extending from Freshwater Gate to Scratchell's Bay, the chalk cliffs are said to be of such altitude that not in the whole world can be found a parallel. Rising above the leve of the sea to six hundred feet, they are for the most part perfectly white, with narrow streaks of black flint, occasionally serving as rough projecting shelves to herds of sea fowl that here congregate in prodigious numbers from May till August. The great curiosity in Freshwater Ray is the cavern, which can only be entered at low water, and forms one of similar excavations made by the constant inroads of the sea. The cave is about one hundred and twenty feet in depth, having an entrance through a small archway. The water at the base is so clear that one may see many fathoms deep to the bottom
of it. On the opposite side of the bay is the famous arched rock, so familiar to the eye from the repeated views of which it has formed the subject. Though once forming a component part of the cliffs it is now nearly six hundred feet away from
Three miles from Freshwater and Scratchell's Bay, Alum Bay and the Needles will be reached, forming the extreme western portion of the island. One of the most striking scenes is formed by. Alum Bay, which on one side is bounded by lofty precipices of pearly chalk, broken and indented, and on the other by cliffs, strangely variegated with different colours, arising from the several strata of red and yellow ochre, fuller's earth, black flint, and sands of grey and white. Alum and copperas ores are easily collected from the beach. Standing on the shores of the bay, the tourist will perceive the Needles, varying their irregular forms to the eye according to the position assumed by the gazer. Sometimes they appear united, as if in one broad solid mass, and, seen from other points, they appear like detached and rugged fortresses, battered by storm and time. Though only three of them now stand boldly out of the water, they are in reality five, of a white colour, and curiously streaked above the black base, with dark spots from the alternate finty strata. Their distinctive appellation was gained from a tall spiral rock about one hundred and thirty feet high, which, having been worn away by the constant lashing of the waves at the base, fell, in 1776, with a tremendons crash, said to have been felt even at Southampton. Its rough and Ainty remains are still visible. Geologists assert that at no very distant period the present rocks will have totally disappeared, but out of the western point of the island, already extremely narrow, new ones will be formed insulated like the Needles, and possibly even more picturesque. The lighthouse, seven hundred and fifteen feet above the marine level, stands on the highest point of the cliffs, and contains ten argand lamps, with a deep concave copper reflector behind each, plated with bright silver. This light can be seen, in clear weather, thirty-three miles.
From Alum Bay the lofty cliffs gradually decrease in height until we reach Cary's Sconce, near the mouth of the river Yar, where they cease altogether. On the eastern bank of this river, ten miles from Newport, lies the neat little town of Yarmouth. Until the passing of the Reform Bill, when the constituency had dwindled down to nine individuals, it regularly sent members to Parliament. A constant steam commu. nication is kept up with Lymington, Portsmouth, Ryde, Cowes, Southampton, and Weymouth. Its ancient church is a fine feature in the scenery, being more than three hundred years old, having been built in 1543. The castle, erected by Henry VUL, is little more than a stone platform, mounted with eight guns, and possesses little strength and less beauty...
On the opposite side of the Yar is the pleasant village of Norton, and a little further westward we come to Sconce Point, where Hurst Castle, cresting the end of a projection from the Hampshire coast, appears almost within reach, the Solent being at this point very little more than a mile across. From Yarmouth to Newport the road passes through a richly cultivated district, and affords a constant succession of prospects, land and marine.
One mile and a half before entering Newport is the village of Carisbrooke, which, with its romantic old castle, associated with so many historical reminiscences, forms one of the most interesting objects in the island. Though now a long straggling