A great day out
Victorian amusement park still pulling in the crowds

31/07 Updated: 31/07 11:05

At just 148 square miles in size, the Isle of Wight is the smallest county in the United Kingdom. But since Victorian times, thousands of people have been make the short trip across the Solent for their holidays. And while it may be small in size, in stature it really is one of the country's gems packed with beautiful scenery, historic landmarks and plenty of attractions to fill a summer break, writes Chris Smith.

One of the oldest attractions, Blackgang Chine amusement park, is still one of the island's most popular.

Opened in 1843, the park is carved into a chine - a coastal ravine - about six miles from Ventnor at the southern tip.

The location, even though we visited on a day when it was emersed in low level cloud, is simply amazing with stunning views out across The English Channel

More than 20 years on from my last visit as a child, my own daughter was amazed by the eccentric mix of rides and sideshows and the quirkiness of this park which help stands it out from the more modern theme parks and mask the fact some were showing their age; some have after all been entertaining people across three centuries.

And it was the oldest first as immediately after going through the main entrance are the funny mirrors which were first installed in 1933.

The dinosaur trail leads you into Fairyland with fairies, goblins and dragons, through the Giant Bug Walk and into Nurseryland where the more well known nursery rhymes are bought to life. There is also a fairy castle and a weather wizard.

Blackgang Chine has newer additions, a small rollercoaster and a waterslide, and while these meet the expectations of visitors to modern fun parks, they have not taken away from the park's typical English charm and character, and will hopefully ensure it has many years life in it yet.

The park is open daily from March to November with standard entry costing a modest £10.50 and a family ticket for four people costing £39.00. Under 4s get in free and there are other concessions and joint entry tickets to Robin Hill Adventure Park & Gardens which is further inland.

Full details of the park are online at www.blackgangchine.com.

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