When I continued my research into William's life in England, I visited Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. What I found was a quaint little village that, as another tourist said to me while we were standing together taking pictures, was "like a step back in time."
I also found the Shanklin Chine. One of the many places William may have remembered when he was busy building his Great Camps in the Adirondacks.
A chine is a gorge or valley with a stream that runs to the sea. The Skanklin Chine is lush with vegetation. While walking, it did feel eerily like a primeval forest. The ferns were the size of small trees.
But what really struck me was the entrance and the two or three small bowers that used tree limbs for slats and abutments. It reminded me a lot of the porch railings and abutments to the roof lines at one of William's great camps on Raquette Lake, NY - Camp Pine Knot.
From my readings I gather that this chine was a favorite tourist spot in the Victorian heyday. I imagine, if William lived in Shanklin, he may have walked the chine with friends and family.
There was also at one time an Inn along the route to the sea. A Victorian bath sits along the path that was used by visitors looking to soak in the healing sea water.
At the very end there is a pub/seafood house called the Fisherman's Cottage that's been around since 1817. I sat and drank an ale and looked out over the sea.
This visit was just another in my journey to uncover what may have inspired William to build his great camps in the Adirondacks when he finally arrived in America at age twenty-four. And I found it inspiring myself.