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The crumbling cliffs of Compton Chine

Compton Chine Isle of Wight

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Male Glanville Fritillary

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Mating Dingy Skippers

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Compton Chine is a geological feature on the south west coast of the Isle of WightEngland. It lies between the village of Brook to the east and Freshwater Bay to the west. It is a small sandy coastal gully, one of a number of such chines on the island created by stream erosion of soft Cretaceous rocks. It leads from the 50 foot high clifftop to the beach of Compton Bay.

The Chine drains water off the slopes of Compton Down, to the north, into the sea.

The Isle of Wight Coastal Path crosses the top of the chine via a small footbridge.


Around 125 million years ago this coast was a series of muddy lagoons, and dinosaurs roamed far and wide. They left their footprints in the mud, and sometimes when they died, their bones became fossilised.

When the sea water and strong waves erode the soft cliffs around Compton Bay, remains of dinosaurs that have been trapped for those millions of years suddenly fall down onto the beach. So far over 20 different species of dinosaur have been found here, and some of these have been found nowhere else in the world.


Butterfly spotting does not get any better than this; walking along the chalk ridge that runs through the middle of the Isle of Wight you will find an abundance of flora and insect life, pure escapism into the real world.


This is a great site for Adonis Blue and Chalkhill Blue butterflies, with large populations of Small Blue Dark-green Fritillary and Glanville Fritillary. Brown Argus and Grayling can also be spotted. In late summer you can often catch a glimpse of the Clouded Yellow. There is also Great Green Bush Crickets and Common Green Grasshoppers to be found amongst the grasses. The spectacular Scarlet Tiger Moth can also be seen here as well.


Flowers are equally impressive, with the tops of the cliff covered in thrift, which the Glanville Fritillaries love to nectar on. Also there are Sea Kale and Sea Peas along with Horseshoe Vetch, Kidney Vetch, and Rock Rose. The crumbling cliffs give the Glanville Fritillaries foodplant Ribwort Plantain a foothold, and there are large amounts of this plant, hence a good colony of this splendid but unique butterfly can be found here.

Bee Orchid

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Scarlet Tiger Moth

 Ribwart Plantain

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Thrift growing on top of the Down


Great Green Bush Cricket

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Ribwart Plantain grows all over the coastal regions of the Isle of Wight, where the landslips are there you will find it in abundance.

Large Skipper feeding on Birds Foot Trefoil.

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The Glanville Fritillary is quite common at Compton Chine in some years.

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