Changes at Newtown National Nature Reserve

Early morning light over Newtown creek

Newtown is a special place. Each summer the wildflower meadows fill with colour, throughout the year the creeks and estuary come alive with birds, and in the ancient woods, rare red squirrels play amongst the trees.

Protecting what makes Newtown so important and much-loved has been a crucial part of our care for the Island’s only National Nature Reserve for over 20 years. This is something that we would never wish to change, but we also need to share what makes Newtown so precious with others. By encouraging people to learn more about wildlife and landscapes at Newtown, we can help them develop a love of nature and a passion for protecting it. It is often said that young people are nature’s guardians of the future, but only by actively introducing them to our countryside will they come to value it and realise that it matters to them.  

Newtown harbour across the meadows
A view across the meadows of Newtown, Isle of Wight, towards the harbour at Big Camp 2015
Newtown harbour across the meadows

Plans for the visitor point

In order to do this, we’d like to make some improvements to the Visitor Reception Point at Newtown to make it more welcoming and informative for visitors. This will involve internal changes only.

As our Visitor Experience and Volunteer Manager, Scott, explains: "By converting a workshop space into a reception point, we’ll be able to give visitors a warm welcome and provide more information about Newtown’s wildlife and the work we do to protect it.We’re also planning to introduce a small self-service space here where visitors can make their own drinks in reusable cups, in return for a donation."

In turn, the original Visitor Point will become a workshop, and there will be an area for meetings, nature learning activities and events.

Children discovering the wildlife of Newtown National Nature Reserve
Five children with a butterfly net walking through long grass in a meadow at Newtown
Children discovering the wildlife of Newtown National Nature Reserve

Ensuring the nature reserve is protected

It’s very important to us that visitor numbers do not impact upon the reserve and the wildlife that lives there. Whilst much of the landscape is open countryside, along public rights of way, we encourage visitors to remain on the paths. We’ll be updating our signage to help people understand where they can go and that dogs must be on leads. In addition, the car park at Newtown is small, which naturally restricts visitor numbers, and at special events, or on busy days, we use social media to advise people when the best time to come might be.

We hope that by making these changes, we’ll be able to spend more time talking with our visitors about the reserve, its special conservation status, and how we can all help to protect it. It’s only through the support of our members and visitors that we are able to acquire places such as Newtown, and continue to conserve and protect them for future generations.

A curlew wading in the waters at Newtown
A curlew wading at the water's edge at Newtown National Nature Reserve
A curlew wading in the waters at Newtown