Shanklin Chine – Shanklin, England - Atlas Obscura

Shanklin Chine

Shanklin, England

This stream-carved gorge has inspired poets, hidden smugglers, and trained soldiers, all without losing its beauty. 


Created by the stream waters slowly carving out its depths, the natural beauty and secluded wilds of England’s Shanklin Chine have been used for everything from smuggling to military training to artistic meditation.

“Chine” is a little-used British term describing a steep-walled river valley, a landscape typified by the Shanklin Chine. Slowly whittled out of the soft Shanklin sandstone by a small stream and a series of waterfalls, the lush valley began attracting visitors in the early 1800’s when a path was forged through the tight valley. Such famous writers and lovers of beauty as Jane Austen and William Keats visited the natural wonder and wrote lovingly of their time there. Keats in particular was known to have written some of his greatest works while staying in Shanklin.

The sunken depths of the chine also provided a great opportunity for smugglers who began moving their illicit goods along the unseen floor of the wooded crevice. Watchtowers were eventually built at the opening of the chine to halt the practice. 

During World War II, the chine was taken over wholesale and put to use for the war effort. First a small supply pipeline which ran under the ocean was run through the river valley. In addition, the uniquely isolated and challenging terrain was used a training ground for a Royal Marine unit stationed at Shanklin. Parts of the pipeline still remain along the path, bearing the name PLUTO (Pipe Line Under The Ocean).

Even with the various lives of the Shanklin Chine the enduring natural beauty remains and continues to inspire countless guests each year, be they poet, criminal, or soldier.

Know Before You Go

You can purchase a return ticket on the day to go back in the evening to check out the Chine Lumiere. Where the paths are lit up giving the walk a magical feel. Good for a warm summers night adventure

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