Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight
A quiet backwater with a busy Medieval past, now bursting with wildlife and a town hall with no town...
Photo credit: National Trust
The nature reserve This is the only National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Wight. It is a beautiful retreat that has something to offer boat owners, walkers, wildlife enthusiasts and historians or just those in search of peace and tranquility. You can wander past flower-rich hay meadows, through ancient woodlands with rare butterflies and red squirrels, and look out over salt marsh and the clear waters of the harbour, bobbing with sailing boats in the summer and alive with birds in the spring and winter. For those on the water it is a beautiful place to explore and a good way to look out for wetland wildlife.
Newtown Harbour was saved in the 1960s from the threat of a nuclear power station being built near the harbour entrance. The efforts of local people conducting wildlife surveys proved to the authorities how special the place is. The landscape has remained little changed for decades and the pattern of fields reflects Newtown's Medieval origins.
The town hall Tucked away in a tiny hamlet adjoining the National Nature Reserve, the 17th-century Old Town Hall is the only remaining evidence of Newtown's former importance. It's hard to believe that this tranquil corner of the island once held often turbulent elections before sending two Members to Parliament.