The Needles is a series of three chalk stacks protruding into the sea from the western coastal point of the Isle of Wight. The stacks were formed from chalk and harder flint and originally made up part of the cliff, but coastal erosion has now separated them from the headland. They rise to about 30 m (~98 ft) above sea level. The name “The Needles” comes from the days when a fourth rock still existed. This sharp, needle shaped rock called Lot’s Wife collapsed in 1764.
The lighthouse on the farthest rock out at sea was built in 1859 and was manned round the clock until it was automated in 1994. At over 33 m (108 ft) tall, it looks to be teetering on a small area of chalk, and will certainly require underpinning in the near future to avoid collapse.
The Needles were also the site of an artillery battery between 1861 and 1954, when it was decommissioned. Built on the cliff tips above the Needles, The Old Battery Facility is now open to the public. It is not possible for tourists to visit the lighthouse; however there are boat rides that take visitors around the Needles and to the nearby Alum Bay.
The Needles Pleasure Park is a small amusement park on top of the cliffs. As well as providing popular activities for tourists, there is a chairlift which runs from the Park to Alum Bay providing unrivalled views of the landscape. Keen walkers may prefer to peruse the area along the many coastal hiking trails.
The site is accessible by car, foot, bike or bus. During strong winds above gale force 8 site closures can take place for safety reasons.