I had been wanting to revisit the beach at Blackgang for a long time.
Not because of its reputation as an unofficial beach for those who like to let it all hang out, but because I hadn't visited for many many years.
It was an occasional beach we visited with my father, who felt a beach with more than three people on it was a bit too crowded.
In the last decade, a trip to Blackgang has been off the cards as it really isn't a beach for young children. We've made it to Blackgang Chine theme park of course, but that's not quite the same.
On a grey morning we found ourselves with a couple of hours of freedom and decided this was the moment to finally give it a go. And so we headed for the Old Blackgang Road Car Park which is a rarity as it is free.
Getting to the car park was an adventure in itself. The road down is just wide enough for a car and it certainly isn't wide enough for my car and an Audi SUV which was wider than an ambulance. I was willing to risk a few scrapes to my 8 year old car but the owner of the 70 plate Audi was less cavalier and so began reversing back to the car park.
When we finally parked up we were all alone apart from a couple of joggers who soon vanished.
The next adventure was finding the correct route down. This is where our troubles began.
Perhaps I lack common sense but there didn't seem to be one obvious path. Instead there were several footpath junctions with a dark wooded path on one side and a darker wooded path on the other.
My logic was to follow the path most worn but that led to a couple of dead ends and required a bit of clambering over fallen trees. Without walking boots we'd have fallen over more easily than an Italian winger looking for a penalty in stoppage time.
The most precarious section was a well worn path which is perhaps 50cm wide and had a significant drop on one side. This would have created newfound levels of parental stress so this is one for the grown ups. You might be able to avoid these perils by taking the alternative route out of the left hand gate in the car park.
I'm pretty sure we didn't use the official path, if there is one, but we eventually emerged on a beach.
Although it had been a few years, I couldn't help feeling that this wasn't the beach I was after.
This beach was beautiful and was similar to Binnel Bay which is not surprising as it's not far away. There were whopping great boulders to climb on and cormorants which sit on the rocks in the sea.
After climbing over some rocks to our right I became more convinced that the beach we actually wanted was round the corner. The orange coloured tiny pieces of shingle were the giveaway.
My phone signal returned and revealed that we had indeed taken the wrong path and were at Watershoot Bay, just round from St Catherine's Lighthouse.
And so we retraced our steps back up the hill and then found an alternative route down to the beach we had intended to visit.
Finally, we reached Blackgang Beach and I just about resisted kissing the shingle. It had only been an extra 20 minutes of clambering so that might have been a bit much.
To add a little bit of confusion, this beach is marked as Rocken End Beach but it is the one we always referred to as Blackgang Beach.
I took a moment to admire the view, after the initial disappointment of seeing that there was no-one taking advantage of the beach's unofficial reputation. It's a fantastic bit of coastline if you like crashing waves and solitude.
We then began to climb up, which was a half walk, half scramble. Despite being summer it was very muddy so I wouldn't attempt it in winter. You can expect to fall over at least once and it will take about 20 minutes.
I can't exactly offer exact directions to avoid my calamity but I would head out the left hand gate in the car park and then once you get onto the footpath keep on the right rather than veering left.
We had muddy legs and we were pleased to see the car when we finally reached the top. But on the plus side, we had seen two beaches for the price of one.
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