Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Down The Chimney into Bonchurch

I've mentioned Bonchurch, Isle of Wight, a few times before, but previously have only visited the coastal section and the Old Church (see other posts). On Monday, we took a bus to Upper Bonchurch, and walked down into the village proper.

Despite its genuine antiquity as one of the oldest known settlements on the Island, Bonchurch is predominantly a Victorian development of villas and mansions and their grounds, all occupying steep and irregular landslip terrain below a south-facing cliff. This is the view down from Leeson Road, named after a 19th century resident, Dr Henry Beaumont Leeson, of whom more later.

On Leeson Road, there's a prominent set of railings opposite the bus stop, leading to a remarkable rock stair called The Chimney, which cuts down through the clifftop crags to the road below called The Pitts (I mentioned it previously, with a link to a video, in the post Balaam's and other narrow paths).

I suppose it's not majorly dangerous, but it's not for the unfit, and you need to keep a very firm grip on the handrail as, despite the efforts of Isle of Wight council, in places the steps get very slippery due to being nearly buried with chalk debris. Going down ...

This is the dodgy part, where the steps are covered with debris

Looking back up - slippery section
Looking back up - final flight of steps

Looking back up - whole descent

... and the descent ends in the driveway of a house on The Pitts called Greycliff.

I wonder about the origin of this and the several similar rock stairways down from the escarpment (again see Balaam's and other narrow paths). I suspect they're based on naturally-eroded joints in the rock, embellished by excavation.

For further photos from this visit, see:

Bonchurch: and a singer asleep
Brannon on Bonchurch
Isle of Wight postcards

See also The Devil's Chimney and The Chink for our 2013 visit to the two other publicly-accessible rock staircases descending to the Undercliff, as well as Undermount for our visit to a very interesting house and grounds.

- Ray

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