The Landslip at Bonchurch is an intriguing place, describing itself on an old sign as an historic pleasure park. It is a vertiginous jungle with windy paths, rocky outcrops and precipitous steps. If you have the energy for an aerobic hike about this landscape then you will do well to treat yourself to a cream tea at the spectacularly positioned Smuggler’s Haven cafe. Which is exactly what your reviewers did one pleasant afternoon in October.
Having panted up and down this wildly undulating landscape, from the beach at Luccombe and up the spectacularly claustrophobia-inducing Devil’s Chimney, Matt and Cat headed for the only refreshments for miles around. Despite the wide selection of food available, such as traditional cafe fare including egg and chips plus a wide variety of filled sandwiches, M and C had their hearts set on cream tea.
The cafe is in the traditional style, and its little tables, lino floor and old-fashioned tea urn were all very smart and clean. It even sells a few souvenirs, and, like much of Ventnor, is pleasantly reminiscent of a bygone, more innocent age of tourism.
Served by a friendly chap with a pleasingly heavy hand when it came to doling out the jam and cream, a tray of tea for two soon appeared. Your reviewers took advantage of what may have been the last warm Sunday of the year and sat on the cafe’s terrace with its panoramic views of the English Channel.
The cream tea was reasonable value for money (£3.50 per head) – there was plenty of jam and cream and, with judicious use of a generous pot of hot water, their teapot never ran dry. There was an adequate supply of real milk given, with no need to ask for more. The scones were dry and crumbly, though not excessively so, and had an unexpected, but not unpleasant, taste of allspice or cinnamon about them. With this welcome injection of sugar, carbohydrates and plenty of tea, your reviewers were well prepared to tackle a further section of the Landslip’s unique and challenging landscape.