Enjoy the estuary... Newtown walk
Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of WightRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Take a gentle stroll through the varied habitats of the Island’s only National Nature Reserve, and visit a Town Hall with a colourful past.
- Bus stop
Start: Newtown Visitor Information Centre car park, grid ref: SZ423906
Turn right from car park entrance and follow road down the hill, past the Old Town Hall.
Built around 1699, the Old Town Hall gradually fell into disrepair from 1832, when the town lost its right to elect Members of Parliament (MP). With two MPs and an electorate of only 39 voters, the Newtown constituency was declared a 'Rotten Borough'. The building was saved in the 1930s by the mysterious Ferguson Gang, a group of young women who used false names. Disguised with masks they delivered money to the National Trust to save and restore threatened old buildings.
Take the signed CB16a footpath on the right, just before Cassey Bridge. Follow the path across two fields and continue to a road. Walk straight ahead down the road and turn right down a gravel track by Marsh Farm House to the Mercia Seabroke Bird Hide.
The peaceful setting and timeless beauty of the Newtown National Nature Reserve, as seen from Cassey bridge.
Turn left through a gate and cross to opposite corner of field, then turn right onto footbridge to the boathouse. Bear left and follow the gravelled harbour wall round to reach a meadow gate. Follow the right-hand boundary of the field to a gate in the top corner and the path to the road.
The little egret does not nest here but is a frequent visitor. Gentle belted Galloway cattle graze the meadows after the hay is cut. In November 1954, there was a great storm which breached the sea wall around the Main Marsh in the middle of the estuary. The farmer had to rescue cattle and horses from being drowned. The whole area has now reverted to salt marsh, but you can still see the old fence posts.
Follow the tarmac road to a T-junction by the visitor point. Return to the car park if following the shorter route option, otherwise carry on.
This small village with its tranquil estuary was once a thriving new town with a busy harbour and was also known as Francheville. Its inhabitants were free men with no feudal duties. Instead, they rented plots of land known as 'burgages'. The pattern of woodland and meadows reflects the original planned Medieval town and fields. Sadly Newtown fell into decline after a French raid in 1377. But for many years afterwards its dwindling population returned two MPs by corrupt means.
Cross straight over and take the grassy footpath (CB13a) through the gate to the left of Noahs Ark. This path then crosses two small fields, a narrow wood and two more fields to reach a gate leading onto a road, where you turn right.
The Newtown (Francheville) seal adorns the front of Newtowns oldest house, which was built before 1630. It was formerly a public house and we know it operated as a pub called the Newtown Arms Inn until it closed in 1916. The name 'Noahs Ark' refers to the boat and lion, illustrated in the seal above the front door. The building was purchased by us in 1961.
After 220yds (200m) enter Walters Copse on the left, just opposite the last bungalow. Take the second path on the right, about another 220yds (200m) from the road. Carry straight ahead on this path until the edge of the copse is seen after about 270yds (250m). Turn left and follow the boundary path. The path bends left, keeping to the edge of copse and marsh. At all junctions keep close to the edge of the copse, but do not venture out into the marsh. A sign warning that path CB9 leads only to the bird hide is reached at Town Quay. (For a recommended half mile (1km) detour, cross the stile ahead and keep to the right of a field to another stile. Follow the uneven causeway to visit East Bird Hide overlooking Clamerkin lake. Retrace your steps to Town Quay).
Newtown National Nature Reserve has a wonderful mixture of habitats. The salt marsh is stabilised by plants specially adapted for life in salt water. The mud flats teem with invertebrate life which provides rich feeding for many water birds in the winter. The meadows abound with colourful flowers and butterflies and the woods have lovely sunny glades humming with fascinating insects. Traditional coppicing allows woodland flowers to bloom and provides perfect conditions for red squirrels.
Turn left and take the broad track through Town Copse, away from the marsh continuing through two gates to reach the road.
Turn right and follow the road back to the Visitor Point.
End: Newtown Visitor Information Centre car park, grid ref: SZ423906
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 4 miles (6.5km), including optional bird hide visit
- Time: 2 hours, plus time in the bird hides
- OS Map: Landranger 196; Explorer OL29
This walk is built from a gentle 1.5 mile (2.25km) harbour section and 2 mile (3.25km) loop through the woods, plus an optional half mile (1km) visit to East Bird Hide. Largely flat, the total ascent is 200ft (60m). There are a number of gates and bridges, and two stiles on the very uneven path to East Bird Hide. The Mercia Seabroke Bird Hide and the path from the road are wheelchair accessible. Other paths can be muddy. Please take care when walking along the roads. Dogs are welcome, but keep on a lead and take mess home with you.
- How to get here:
By foot: The Isle of Wight coastal path passes through Newtown
By bike: Sustrans Regional 'Round the Island' Route 67 passes through Newtown
By car: Newtown is between Newport and Yarmouth, 1 mile (1.6km) north of A3054. Nearest postcode is PO30 4PA
- Telephone: 01983 741020
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/newtown-national-nature-reserve/