An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Wildlife isle of Wight

This large natural harbour on the island’s north west coast offers tranquillity, unspoilt beauty and a huge variety of wildlife that thrives in the estuary, mudflats, salt marsh, wildflower meadows and woodlands of the Reserve. Managed by the National Trust there are way-marked trails with plenty of opportunities for bird watching in the various hides. The walks start from the hamlet of Newtown which in medieval times was a thriving borough with a busy harbour, saltworks and many oyster beds until it started to decline as a result of  the combination of the great plague and a French raid. Today the Old Town Hall is the only evidence of Newtown’s former importance and it stands alone on a grass area that was once a wide street. Nearby is Newtown’s oldest house, known as Noah’s Ark, which refers to the boat and lion illustrated on the seal above the front door. It was formerly a pub called the Newtown Arms Inn, which closed in 1916. The large ponds around the Quay were formerly used for salt production. The walk can be extended along the Coast Path, via Cassey Bridge, along the roads and tracks to Shalfleet and on to its quay, from where you can enjoy more fine estuary views and a potential stop for refreshments at the excellent New Inn, at Shalfleet.

Whilst you are on the Isle of Wight why not try:

Walk to the Isle of Wight’s highpoint on St Boniface Down

Enjoy a swim and crab pasty at Steephill Cove

The Needles and Tennyson Down circular walk

Watch an Isle of Wight sunset

Circular walk St Catherine’s Oratory

Look for the Milky Way

Spot a sea eagle

Go fossil hunting

Go rock pooling at Bembridge

Go star gazing

Other islands nearby:

Brownsea Island

Hayling Island

Portsea Island

Thorney Island

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