When you wander through the peaceful setting of this historic gorge, take time to just sit, look and listen. You are in a magic world of natural beauty, a rich haven of rare plants, woodland, wildlife and enchanting waterfalls.
Formation of the Chine has taken place over the last 10,000 years. The stream would originally have flowed into the Eastern Yar river when Sandown Bay was land. This stream is continually cutting its way back to the foot of the Downs from whence it springs. In the latter half of the 19th century, stones were laid at the top of the waterfall to arrest this progress. There is a continuous series of spring lines on the cliff faces in the chine.
‘Chine’ is a local word and now used only in the Isle of Wight and Dorset. It is of Saxon origin and means a deep narrow ravine, formed by water cutting through soft sandstone leading to the sea. The Saxon name for Shanklin was ‘Scenc-hlinc’ or ‘cup in the rising ground’.
Think, too, of the chine of a boat – the shape of a cup – or chine as in an animal’s backbone – a deep scooped-out cut.
The Island has a number of chines but the two largest are Blackgang, where very little of the original remains due to erosion and Shanklin, unique in the quality of its flora and fauna. With a drop of 32m (105ft) to sea level in just over a quarter of a mile, Shanklin Chine covers an area of approximately three acres.
The story of the Chine encompasses subjects of interest to all age groups from geology to smuggling, shipwrecks to PLUTO and, of course, the wondrous scenery.