The Needles Park, Alum Bay
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
The Needles Park is a magnet for families, drawn to the western tip of the Isle of Wight to enjoy the combination of its amazing geology, a famous cable-car chairlift down the cliffs, and a range of family attractions along the clifftop site. The main attraction at The Needles is the multi-coloured sand that makes up the cliffs of Alum Bay.
Among the family attractions at the top of the cliffs are adventure golf, a traditional family Carousel, and Victorian games. You can watch hand-made glass being blown at the Alum Bay Glass workshop, take an open-top bus ride around the Needles headland, or take one of the regular boat trips out to the Needles lighthouse.
Alum Bay is famous for its cliffs of multi-coloured sand, composed of quartz, felspar and mica combined with other minerals to create a rainbow effect of red, grey, white, and yellow layers. You can see the layers of cliff sand if you walk along the path towards the Needles Battery, but the best way to see it is to take the chairlift to the pier at the bottom of the cliffs.
Or, if you prefer something a bit more energetic. there is a set of wooden steps running down the cliffs, far below the chairlift. It does take a bit of exertion to walk down and back up, but the views are amazing and you can stop along the way and rest at a number of convenient landings.
If you are feeling energetic you can walk from the Park along a well-marked path to the Needles Old Battery (National Trust), with wonderful views over the headland and out to the famous red and white striped Trinity House lighthouse.
Located near the top of the chairlift ride is a monument to Guglielmo Marconi, the wireless pioneer. Marconi set up a permanent wireless station at The Needles in 1899, and his work here led to the development of the radio and telecommunications technology we enjoy today.
At the top of the cliffs, beside the large parking area, The Needles Park combined shops and cafes with amusement park rides. The one our daughter enjoyed most was a large pool of plastic balls where she pretended to be a hamster (other cute and cuddly animals are available).
There were more 'educational' places where you could watch glass blowing and a shop where you could buy various shaped containers and fill them with layers of coloured sand. They had a really good selection of colours plus some information boards about the sand.
You can get down to the beach via chairlift, or by walking. If you decide you don't want to walk up after you're down, there's provision for paying for a one way chairlift ride at the top when you get there.
The chairlift might be a challenge going down for people who don't like heights, but there are great views out over the sea and towards the Needles lighthouse. Boat tours for the Needles left from the docks at the bottom. Other than the views, the only real attraction at the bottom of the cliff is the layers of coloured sand that make up the cliff itself.
We walked a little way to admire the colours in the cliffs but it was quite rocky, and rather tiring to walk. It was high tide so we couldn't see if there was sand that would have made walking easier if it hadn't been covered with water. The wind was blowing off the sea and even though it was a fair day it wasn't a place we wanted to hang about. On a less windy day with more beach exposed it might have been really enjoyable to spend time at the bottom.
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About The Needles Park
Address: Alum Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Wight, England, PO39 0JD
Attraction Type: Family Attraction
Location: Well signposted, large paid parking area. Regular bus service from Newport.
Website: The Needles Park
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Needles Old Battery - 0.6 miles (Historic Building)
Farringford - 2.6 miles (Historic House)
Freshwater, All Saints Church - 2.7 miles (Historic Church)
Hurst Castle - 2.8 miles (Castle)
Yarmouth Castle - 3.9 miles (Castle)
Mottistone, St Peter & St Paul Church - 6.1 miles (Historic Church)
Mottistone Manor Garden - 6.2 miles (Garden)
St Barbe Museum - 6.4 miles (Museum)
Nearest Accommodation to The Needles Park: