The Pepperpot - or St. Catherine's Oratory - is on several of our days out guides, because not only is it a bit quirky, it is also free and historic. If I’d seen a stray cow grazing up there I’d have added it to the list of animal attractions.
We decided to pay it a visit recently for the first time in about a decade. Needless to say, it hadn't changed (much like most of the Isle of Wight) but it is well worth a repeat visit if you are passing.
The best (and only) place to park nearby is the Blackgang Chine viewpoint car park. You'll pass it if you are driving along the military road between the West Wight and the South Wight. At the moment it is free, which will hopefully remain the case indefinitely. I can't really imagine it is economical to employ a parking attended to drive to a remote spot on the South Wight to check half a dozen tickets (a number of Isle of Wight car parks which used to be free are now charged. Incidentally, there's one in Totland which now charges, meaning that everyone just parks on the road instead - great success!).
Anyway, the car park itself is an attraction with views out towards the West Wight (see our guide to car park viewpoints) and there is one of the 'Walking with Dinosaurs' plastic boulders where you can download an app and then see Pterodactyls squawking around the skies on your smartphone. Well why not?
We briefly headed out towards the cliff edge overlooking Blackgang Chine and had the predictable conversation about how the theme park is a lot smaller than we remembered, and about which bits had fallen over the cliff this week.
After our brief walk (I do mean brief, it was only about 200 metres) we doubled back on ourselves, crossed the road and started climbing up to the Pepperpot.
Even for a lazy walker like myself, it’s only a short way, although it would be hard work with a pushchair (it's pretty steep, and there's also a stile). About half way up, the Pepperpot’s hat appeared and I suddenly realised what a marathon runner feels like when they see the finish line.
For a lighthouse, the Pepperpot is decidedly inland, particularly when you consider that the sea beneath it would have been a fair bit further away before the last 700 years of erosion. I'm no expert on lighthouses, but isn't the idea that they sit on the water's edge so that boats know where not to aim for?
Perhaps the builders just liked the view from the Pepperpot's location, which is one of my favourites on the Island. We spent a good few minutes peering in every direction, before stepping inside the building itself for a good gawp.
In a previous blog I reported with triumph that Bembridge's famous phonebox doesn't smell of wee. I'm delighted to add the Pepperpot to the list of Wee-Free Historic Sites on the Isle of Wight.
Hey, that sounds like a good title for a new top 10 attractions guide don't you think?
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