Shanklin is a pretty seaside town to the south east of the Isle of Wight that is a popular holiday destination. With its wide sandy beach that stretches all the way up to Sandown Bay, the resort grew during the Victorian era although it was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Sencling, a name derived from its location, meaning a hill (kline) with a spring.
The spring emerges as a waterfall at the head of Shanklin Chine and this is where Shanklin Old Village is nestled, a collection of ancient thatched houses and cottages that are now tea gardens, pubs and gift shops.
The Chine is very lush and green with a pretty walkway down to the beach below, a small museum and during the season it is illuminated after dusk when it is especially magical.
All around the Old Village are walkways through tree lined lanes and parkland – Rylstone Gardens on the cliff to the southern side of the Chine is a particular find with its flower-filled tea gardens and panoramic views from the cliff top. At the bottom of the Chine sits the Fisherman’s Cottage, a pub dating from 1817 that once offered hot brine baths to visitors.
Shanklin Old Village was the original village from which Shanklin grew and it has a particular charm with perhaps the largest number of thatched dwellings in one area on the Island. Walk up the hill towards the newer town and you will encounter Keats Cottage where Keats came to stay in 1819.
It was thought that the spring had health giving properties and it is likely that Keats visited the village for that reason. Keats found inspiration for some of his greatest poetry while staying at Shanklin in 1819 and wrote: “The wondrous Chine here is a very great Lion; I wish I had as many guineas as there have been spy-glasses in it.”
At the very top of the hill sits Shanklin Theatre, which is the only traditional theatre that is currently in use on the Island and has a full bill during the season, including good local am dram productions. From here the High Street continues down the hill into Shanklin town and the main shopping centre that is in Regent Street, which runs at a right angle to the High Street all the way down to the train station.
The rail link from Ryde Pierhead opened in 1864 and still runs to this day, utilizing old London Underground trains. This line also sees many commuting workers on a daily basis with a direct linked journey through to London Waterloo taking just over two and a half hours on a good day.
In 1890 Shanklin was in its heyday as a beach resort and a pier was built for visitors to the town, followed by a lift from the top of the cliff to the beach that was finished in 1892. The pier is long gone – finally finished off by the storm in 1987 – but the lift is still in operation during the summer months.
Shanklin seafront boasts many good pubs, restaurants and a large traditional holiday arcade, with adventure themed crazy golf, kids indoor play area, bowling and coin slot machines. But you will be spoiled for choice if you’re looking to stay in Shanklin as hotels and guest houses abound around the town centre, there are several hotels on the cliff top and a few hotels and guesthouses on the seafront. The Old Village boasts two hotels and nearby Luccombe has a handful of good ones too.