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Things to do at Newtown National Nature Reserve and Old Town Hall

Family walking together by the harbour at Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight
Visitors at Newtown | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

You'll find plenty to do at Newtown National Nature Reserve on the Isle of Wight. Whether you're discovering the area’s political past at Newtown Old Town Hall, relaxing on Newtown Harbour or walking through wildflower meadows, this quiet backwater makes for a great day out.

Birdwatching walks at Newtown

20 Jan, 10 Feb & 3 March, 10am-12.30pm

Free. Booking essential.

As the seasons change, join us for a guided walk around the meadows and creeks of Newtown to discover the over-wintering birds.

The walks are suitable for the whole family but conditions can be wet underfoot depending on weather conditions. Assistance dogs only are welcome.

Please book online.

Winter birdwatching at Newtown

What to see

Come winter at Newtown, the creeks and estuary are full of life. Winter wildfowl and waders migrate here during the colder months from their breeding grounds further afield, making it the perfect place to go birdwatching. Find out where to spot winter birds at Newtown.

Cassey Bridge

South along the road from the Old Town Hall is Cassey Bridge. Male teal with their green eye patches and yellow tails provide a little colour on a grey winter day and travel from as far away as Siberia. Wigeon also come to Britain to escape the freezing conditions of Scandinavia and Russia, while you may see pintail ducks and egrets in the estuary until early March. Keep an eye out for kingfishers, too.

Newtown Quay

On a walk to the quay, take a detour through the meadows and you may be lucky enough to spot a black-tailed godwit. The UK’s breeding population migrates to West Africa for the winter, but in turn Icelandic birds arrive here, seeking their own winter warmth. Down at the quay, look for waders, redshanks with their orange-red legs and bills, greenshanks and turnstones around the rocks.

East Hide

From the East Hide, you get a view of the main marsh where you can spot dunlin, plovers and knot in their winter plumage. As the tide comes in, birds get closer to shore, eventually roosting for the night on the salt marshes and shore. Many of these birds fly in flocks of hundreds or even thousands. As they come inland, the combined effect of their pale undersides and wings is a flash of white in the winter sun.

Dunlin flying in formation over water at Portstewart Strand, County Londonderry
Dunlin in flight | © National Trust Images/Wilbert McIlmoyle

Visit the wildflower meadow

On the Isle of Wight, wild flowers in various habitats are encouraged, with Newtown boasting one of the best wildflower meadows on the island. Visit in early summertime to see the meadow at its most colourful, full of pink and purple orchids.

Explore Newtown Harbour

Whether you’re exploring by boat or just mooring for a while, Newtown Harbour is a beautiful place to relax in. Experienced canoeists and paddleboarders are welcome in certain areas.

Walk around the nature reserve

Newtown is one of the best places to explore by foot on the Isle of Wight. Walk through woods and meadows to the edge of the estuary, a wonderful network of secluded creeks and waterways. Many of the paths are flat and easy to walk along, but in the winter they can become a little muddy, so it's worth wearing suitable footwear. To spot dragonflies, visit Clamerkin pond, set in a small area of sheltered woodland.

Water channel in the marsh, between low banks, with four large wooden posts in the water, at Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight
Water channel in the marsh at Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Birdwatching at Newtown National Nature Reserve

Our bird hides provide a great opportunity to see many of Newtown’s resident species up close. A solar-powered telescope in the Seabroke bird hide provides live, close-up images of birds on a screen, and our volunteers are on hand to help you identify the different species. Or visit the east hide, another bird hide overlooking the estuary.

Uncover history at the Old Town Hall

Discover a wealth of political and local history at Newtown Old Town Hall. A set of Hogarth prints on display in the Mayor's Parlour gives a satirical view of politics in the 1750s, while other documents and artefacts tell the story of this former Rotten Borough, once represented by two MPs. You can also learn about the mysterious and eccentric Ferguson Gang, and how they saved the Old Town Hall by reading a copy of their minute book, 'The Boo'.

Family at Newtown National Nature Reserve, Isle of Wight

Discover more at Newtown National Nature Reserve and Old Town Hall

Find out how to get to Newtown National Nature Reserve and Old Town Hall, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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