Navigational tips and beauty spots around the south-east coast of the Isle of Wight.
Binnel Bay to Steephill Cove
Binnel Bay (bottom) up to Steephill Cove. Photo: Peter Bruce
Binnel Bay lies just east. Inshore you will note unusually regular rocks. These are the remains of a promenade and harbour built by German industrial chemist William Spindler. In 1882 he bought part of an estate, including a house, that once belonged to the Worsley family for 200 years, until the death of Sir Richard Worsley, the Island’s governor. Spindler had visions of creating a town and laid roads that can still be found winding through the woodland as well as the promenade and harbour. Had he been a geologist he would have known that blue slipper clay provides very poor foundations. The remains are known as Spindler’s Folly The house itself is now the Old Park Hotel. Again rocks lie off for some 200m as far as Binnel Point so keep to the 10m contour.
East of Binnel Point is the Sugar Loaf, a prominent knuckle of rock, beyond which lies Woody Bay, with its three former coastguard cottages. There are two fingers of sand through the rocks and pebbles of the beach so in perfect conditions approach by tender would be possible, though again there are a few rocks to dodge. Just below St Lawrence there is Sir Richard’s Bay, a vague indent hardly worth of the name. It commemorates Sir Richard Worsley, the erstwhile governor, who lived at Appuldurcombe House.
The next cove is Pelham cove, commemorating another of Appuldurcombe’s owners. The remains of a slipway are visible in the centre left of the bay, just below the hedgeline, and the approach has been cleared of rocks. The next bay, Orchard, or St Lawrence Bay, features a house that is built on the foundations of a former excise office, which presumably did something to deter smugglers – in that particular bay at least. Steephill Cove is next, home to a small fleet of fishing boats and the Boathouse restaurant, famed for its lobster and crab. There is a sandy channel through the rocks running parallel to the coast along the line of the coastal path running east of the cove but it’s no more than 10m wide and anchoring off is not recommended so take a mooring at Ventnor and build your appetite with a stroll.