Things to do (Continued)
Cyclists can turn right out of the carpark and enjoy the flat Military road from The Wight Mouse along to Compton Bay and then the hills and stunning country and sea views along to Freshwater Bay and Yarmouth – a 22.5km ride. Or turn left and enjoy the delights of the hilly 10.5km cycle to Ventnor.
If you want to explore by cycle or by foot then the Victorian town of Ventnor and the surrounding Botanic Gardens, the Undercliff and Steephill Cove are very popular destinations. Ventnor can also be accessed by bus and Steephill Cove is a 15 minute walk along the cliff path or down the slope from the Botanic Gardens or from Ventnor Town.
For families, there is of course Blackgang Chine, Britain’s original theme park. With weekly special events during the summer holidays, this has been the Island’s favourite family destination since the 1800s. With themed park areas, you can sail a pirate ship, be a fairy princess for the day or ride a dinosaur and there are rides, slides and exhibitions for a great family day out.
In Chale itself there is the 14th century St Andrews church and the 100 year old Chale Green Stores is 5 minute drive away stocking Isle of Wight cheeses and other Island produce.
If you don’t fancy walking or cycling and want to just enjoy the view then catch the Island Coaster which will take you to all the best coastal points around the Island – you can buy a 24 hour ticket for just £10 and hop on and off as much as you like.
Or if none of this takes your fancy, you can enjoy great food, fantastic service and a warm welcome at The Wight Mouse for a lazy lunch, afternoon coffee or dinner in this most unique of locations. With spectacular sunsets and wonderful views right down to the Needles, The Wight Mouse is the perfect place for a pre dinner aperitif on the patio or for children to enjoy our outdoor play area. Something for everyone.
A short history of Chale and The Wight Mouse
The name Chale is recorded in the Domesday book as ‘Cela’, which probably derives from the Old English word ‘ceole’, meaning ‘throat’. This is thought to refer to the nearby ravine or chine at Blackgang. The name was also recorded as ‘Chele’ or ‘Chielle’, but it has been Chale since the 12th century.
The Wight Mouse Inn and Clarendon Hotel was named after the shipwreck of the Clarendon which sank in Chale Bay in 1836 claiming 25 lives. Some of the timbers from the wreck were incorporated into the hotel and it was a popular destination for the upper classes in Victorian times.
The Isle of Wight coast was notorious for shipwrecks and the after the sinking of the Clarendon and much public pressure, a lighthouse was built on St Catherine’s Down. Unfortunately the officials who were from mainland England had not taken into account the fogs which roll in from the sea and obscure the top of the down and after further shipwrecks a second lighthouse which is still in use was built at the foot of the cliffs.
The Parish Church of St Andrew which is next to the Wight Mouse was founded by Hugh Gendon in Chale in 1114. However, the present church dates from the 14th century. Some of the graves of the crew and passengers from the doomed Clarendon can be seen in the churchyard and it has some very fine stained glass windows as well as its tower from where you have a panoramic view of Chale Bay.
In 1843 Britain’s oldest theme park Blackgang Chine was established. During Victorian England, people were seeking out new healthy holiday resorts, ideally near the coast and destinations such as Torquay and Lyme Regis were very popular. As the railway network was getting closer and closer to the South Coast, the Isle of Wight was becoming an increasingly attractive holiday destination. Alexander Dabell, the founder of the park, soon realised the business potential of this, trying various ventures. Blackgang’s initial theme of a general-purpose scenic and curiosity park led to one of its most famous attractions, a large whale skeleton, which had been washed up near the coast of The Needles in 1842, and is still a showpiece today.
For historians, there is much to see in Chale and its environs. From the historic Wight Mouse down to St Catherine’s Lighthouse you can enjoy several different British historical eras all in one short stretch of coast. And even if history is not your thing, you cannot help but be drawn in by this beautiful rugged scenery. So enjoy a drink or some lunch or dinner with us and just take it all in.