My 6 year-old son has for some time been badgering us to take him to a place he calls Dinosaur Island. Those of you who aren’t obsessed with prehistoric creatures, probably know this spot of better as the Isle of Wight.
When it comes to fossils and dinosaur remains the Isle of Wight is apparently pretty high up on the list of places to go. The Jurassic Coast is also close to us, but doesn’t involve a ferry to get there, so couldn’t compete (though probably would have been a bit cheaper!)
We took a day trip with an 8:30am departure with Wightlink taking both dogs and a car packed with spare clothing and food. It’s often reported that the Solent is the most expensive stretch of water in the world to cost and although our return ticket wasn’t cheap (£80) I felt it could have been worse for a one off special outing.
Everyone we had talked to before hand had told us to head to the south coast for the best fossil pickings, so our first port of call was Compton Bay. We parked at the top of the cliffs and made our way down to the beach where the children’s momentary interest in fossil hunting quickly passed when they discovered they could instead run in and out of the waves. This as it happened was a good thing, as we realised pretty quickly we hadn’t got a clue what we were looking for, though the cliffs layered with multicoloured sediment certainly looked promising
After a tip off from some fellow fossil hunters we decided to drive a couple of minutes further east to Brook Bay, in search of the only thing we had a definite visual reference for, the naturally occurring casts of dinosaur footprints which were created millions of years ago when this area was swampland.
Brook Bay proved to be an exciting spot when we stumbled (almost literally) upon the footprints. These rock formations at the base of the cliffs, would have been incredibly easy to miss had we not been searching so thoroughly for them.
Standing close to this evidence of a prehistoric era was quite a spooky experience, what evidence would be left of our lives millions of years from now?
After realising how woefully out of our depth we were with fossil hunting we decided to visit one of the many places on the island where you can be guaranteed a glance at fossils. The nearest spot to Brook Bay was a place called Dinosaur Farm, a small, very low key tourist attraction with a simple but very engaging activity for children, the chance to sift for sharks teeth which they could take home. The staff were friendly and knowledgable and both children spent ages with their sieves and shovels searching through the sand for their treasures.
After a picnic lunch, our final stop for the day was a place we lasted visited when Theo was Alice’s age, Godshill Model Village. Godshill is an immaculately well maintained miniature replica of the village it stands in. The gardens alone are worth the trip and the older I get the more I appreciate the huge amounts of work, that must have gone in to creating the bonsai trees and shrubs which add an extra level of realism to the site.
Alice spent her time running through the tiny streets trying to open the doors of the houses. I realised only later this is because I’d earlier described Godshill as being full of “dolls houses” so she was of course, looking for the dolls inside!
One thing that did hold both their attention though was the miniature cake shop, a spot which had drawn Theo in 4 years ago too, but this time he was back with a partner in crime…
After Godshill we had icecreams and headed back to Fishbourne for the 6pm sailing. I shot a little video of our day on my iPhone which I edited on the phone using iMovie. These short simple movies are something I’m making a conscious effort to do more of on trips out.
They don’t take any time to do, require any planning or much editing, but they give a much more immersive memory of the day rather than just having photos. If you have time do give it a quick watch if only to see if it inspires you to do the same on your days out this summer.