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The Sands of Delight
The Needles Park (Isle of Wight)
Member Name: elfbwillow1
The Needles Park (Isle of Wight)
Advantages: A lot of things for children to do
Disadvantages: A long walk down to the beach if you dont use the chair lift!
The Needles, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight
I have recently revisited the Isle of Wight after many years and have written a few reviews on various attractions on this glorious island, which may help you understand how much I love this lovely island.
******The Needles: An Overview and Quick History******
The Needles has always been one of the top attractions on the Isle of Wight, and through the years it has seen many changes. It was once a simply an amazing view attraction with self-obtaining colorful sands. It has now developed and become a small park along side the original glorious views.
The Needles are located at the far west of the island over looking Alum Bay with the main attraction of the perfectly formed Needles, an array of nature-shaped cliffs leading out to a now unused lighthouse.
The original lighthouse, a famous landmark on the island, was originally erected in 1785, at the time well above sea level. Only a few years before, the cliffs had fallen into the sea with a crash which was said to have been heard all around the island, shaping the rocks into the now known array which has given it the title of 'The Needles'. Over the years, despite the working lighthouse, many ships have been wrecked on the Needles.
In more recent years, The Needles have seen the closure of the man-run lighthouse and more attractions centering on Alum Bay and the Needles. Some I will cover below.
******Attractions at the Needles******
As mentioned above, The Needles Park has been brought into the modern day world by adding various attractions. With some places, this could easily be seen as ruining a great natural attraction, though luckily, it only seems to enhance the enjoyment of the park.
Attractions are on a pay-as-you-go scheme, with bulk tickets being sold at the entrance to save you time and money. Some of the main attractions are as follows;
* Children's Rides - In the main part of the high level part of the park, a medium sized range of children's rides and attractions are available.
 Teacup Ride - The newest ride in the park aimed for younger children, yet allows parents with toddlers on. A fair length ride and exciting for the very young.
 Junior Driving Track - This ride is for children aged between 4 - 11 (with height restrictions). It is fun, exciting and even educational! The realistic built road is brilliant and is equipped with great scenery, working traffic lights and zebra crossings. There are also a small range of different vehicles for the children to choose from. When the children finish their go on the ride, they each receive a unique driving license (for children of course!). My 5 year old brother loved this ride! The cars are easy to use and very safe and seem to be the most popular ride in the park.
 Carousel - Everyone loves a traditional ride, and the carousel is one of the favorites. Each horse has a unique name, which is chosen from the most popular children's names so your child can often find a horse to match their own name.
* Jurassic Golf - In the center of the main high level part of the park is a small crazy golf course with a prehistoric genre. This is a huge hit with adults and children alike. It is slightly on the small size and can become quite packed, though at busy times a limited number of people are allowed in at any one time. It is a 9 hole course, many holes 3-4 par and is equipped with a story telling board around the course to give even more fun.
* Traditional Games Kiosk - Another traditional aspect of the park. Fairly priced and quite fun, though very basic. Included is; Hook a duck, tin can alley and Hoopla. Not a great array of games, but prizes seem to be won quite a lot.
* Sweet Manufactory Shop - This shop is a huge hit. It is an extra £1.00 to enter, which does sound silly to pay to enter a shop, though with this pound you get to learn the history of how sweets have been made on the island, watch them make the sweets and even try a hand at it yourself. Demonstrations, though, are only at set times, so you must check before you enter so you do not miss out.
* Alum Bay Glass Shop - Demonstrations are held at varying times throughout the day (again check before you go for times) on how the famous Alum Bay glass is made. You can see a whole range of items being created, from vases to glass pigs! Again, there is an extra admission price of £1.00, though it is fully worth it as it proved extremely interesting and you are able to purchase many unique items to take home with you. You are able to stay as long as you want, though I would probably recommend visiting on a day which isn't too hot as it becomes extremely hot in the workshop.
* Sand Shop - Unfortunately you are no longer able to collect your own sand from the beach due to danger, though you can visit this wonderful shop and choose your own sand shaped holder and go around the different colored sand boxes, filling your ornaments how you wish. There are approximately 21 shades of sand to choose from, and if you are too lazy to do-it-yourself, you can also buy ready filled ornaments. The shop seems to always be crowded and it became rather hot and claustrophobic at times. It was difficult to move around at busy times, though we did go in the school holidays, so it might not be as bad at non-peak times.
* Boat Rides - Boat trips operate only if weather is permitting from Easter time to late October. We did not go on the boat trip as my husband is afraid of boats (although he came to the island on a ferry - very weird!!). If you want to see the actual Needles close up then this is the perfect option for you. You jet off from a jetty on the lower beach and trip around the caves, cliffs and lighthouse and see spectacular views of the island.
* Chairlift - One of the very first additions to the park. Please look at comments under the 'To the Needles Beach' heading for more information.
******To the Needles Beach******
The main attraction, of course, is the Needles and the beach at the bottom of the cliffs within a lovely sheltered cove. Although, like many parts of the Isle of Wight, parts of the cliff face have eroded into the sea, the beach is still fully accessible.
Myself and my family decided to walk down the 200 plus steps towards the beach - a long hike for anyone and extremely steep so extra care is needed especially with young children. Whilst walking down, we noticed many steps and cliff edges boarded off to prevent accidents, though the staircase itself was completely safe, if not slightly daunting.
Once down on the beach, there really isn't that much to do. It is quite a sheltered area so it makes a great place to picnic and relax, though it is no longer a vast area. It is also a pebble beach, which tends to put some people off. The cliffs are sectioned off by tape as they have become very dangerous, though you are able to see the multicolored sands which are a perfect picture. Unfortunately, you are no longer able to help yourself to the sands like you used to. Instead you have to visit the sand shop (mentioned above).
Also mentioned above are the boat trips. We did not go on this trip, though it is an extremely popular attraction as you are able to go and see the Needles up close. It embarks from the jetty at the far end of the beach.
Another popular attraction (briefly mentioned above) is the chairlift. Facing a long walk back up the hill - the worst way! Myself and my husband decided to take the one way trip back up the hill on the chairlift. I have to admit, though, I was slightly scared at the thought. The lift goes right up the Cliffside and almost vertical at one point (whilst you face forwards and upwards).
The ride is easily to get on. You simply stand on the platform, helped by the staff, and wait until the chair is right behind you before you sit down and have the bar put across you. It is a single bar in front of you and one in the middle of you and your partner (they are all two-seaters). I didn't feel completely safe with this simple bar, and it is good that there are height restrictions which apply, although I did see a few young children on other chairs which was slightly worrying. On the way up, we saw loads of shoes and other various objects sitting on the cliff face, so if you decide to go on this life, make sure everything is firmly attached!
I felt slightly panicky when the lift shuddered and stopped just as we were starting the steepest climb, though we made it to the top safely. I probably wouldn't go on this again, and going down is a definite no for me, though many people love it, so if you are brave enough - give it a try!
******Food, Drink and Gifts******
There are a small arrangement of food shops on the high level of the park, from snack bars to café's. There is also a decently sized restaurant and bar for adults to relax in. Prices vary, and some are quite expensive, but this is to be expected from an attraction like this. I had a coffee and hotdog and although the hotdog was lovely, the coffee was not. It is possibly best to take your own picnic. You can choose from a range of different places to eat your picnic, from the beach to the hilltops as well as various seats and tables around the park.
There are a few different gift shops available in the park as well, again with varying prices. Many gifts are hand made and island made to give that extra uniqueness.
There are many events which occur at specific times of the year. Unfortunately, no events were happening at the time of our visit, though events do include;
* Food and craft Markets
* Special walks
* Firework nights
The park itself is free to enter and there are no obligations to pay for anything in the park unless you wish to.
Rides and other attractions on the main high level part of the park range between £1.00-£3.00 each, depending. These prices include;
Chairlift Return £4.00
Junior Driver £2.00
Games Kiosk - per game £1.00
Jurassic Golf £2.00
Alum Bay Glass £1.00
Sweet Manufactory £1.00
Tea Cup Ride £1.00
Pirate Ship £1.00
Any Outlet £1.00
* 'Supersaver' Ticket (book) £9.00 This can save you 25% on your day out.
If you arrive by car, there is a fair sized car park which costs only £3.00 for a whole days stay. Personally I think that this is a fair price for a full day.
1st April to end of October - Daily 10am till 5pm*
*Later opening on Thursday's in August and throughout the main summer season
1st November to 31st March - Daily 10am till 4pm
Please note limited attractions are available throughout the winter. Please call us for further information before planning your visit.
Hours extended every Thursday throughout August for 'Magic in the Skies' fireworks finale. Some of the Park's facilities / shops remain open until a crescendo of fireworks at 9.30 pm.
******Find the Needles******
A3054 via Yarmouth
B3401 and B3399 via Freshwater
A3055 via Freshwater Bay
The Needles Park is Sign Posted by all the main roads
The number 7 Southern Vectis bus from Newport serves Alum Bay regularly
Bus enquiry helpline 0870 608 2 608
The Needles Tour - an open top bus operates between Yarmouth and Alum Bay. After stopping at the Park it winds its way along the cliff top to the National Trust property
******Contact the Needles Park******
Tel: 0870 458 0022
The Needles Park, Alum Bay, Isle of Wight PO39 0JD
Registered in England: No 3741747
Registered Office: Heritage Attractions Limited, Suite 37, The Colonnades, Albert Dock, Liverpool L3 4AA
Although many things have changed over the years (the collect your own sand - which is disappointing) The Needles continue to be a popular attraction in the Isle of Wight. Myself and my family really enjoyed our day there, although it did not take up all day. To extend your stay, you can always take a walk down the side of the hills overlooking the bay.
If you take a trip to the island, then I would fully recommend traveling down to The Needles, although I wouldn't recommend visiting just for this.
It is true that a lot of the park is aimed at children, but there are also loads of exciting things for adults too, and it makes your holiday complete.
Summary: A Popular Attraction
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