A Walk Around Newtown Nature Reserve

One summer evening I found myself at a loose end and no children to entertain so I took a walk in a place I had always enjoyed visiting, but hadn’t been in ages: Newtown Nature Reserve

The reserve is now run by the National Trust and they have a real job maintaining it as the sea endeavours to wash the mudflats away. It’s an estuary and also home to many species of migrating and overwintering birds. It has several bird hides, which at various times of the year are open to do some twitching. I was too late for bird watching, but just simply wanted to go on the shorter estuary walk, which is the blue dotted line on the National Trust map you’ll see when you park in their car park at Newtown.

It was just the most glorious evening and as I walked passed the most delightfully kept old thatch cottages and then an old church, I heard the honking of geese and ran towards a field to try and get a photo. My camera didn’t fire in time but I was treated to a gorgeous ‘eyestagram’ shot of skeins of geese flying across fields of wild flowers, and in the distance, little sailing boats marooned at low tide in the estuary. According to the species blackboard provided and updated by the National Trust (also found in the carpark), one of the wild flowers was a Corky-fruited Water Dropwort, but I cannot honestly say if I saw that.  

The walk is very straightforward, flat but not accessible for wheelchairs, and takes you along a long wooden bridge that spans the mud flats and little snaking streams. If you have binoculars you might spot seabirds out on the mud flats. It was so peaceful and, in my imagination, slightly sinister and atmospheric, and I could imagine it might be a wonderfully spooky setting, even in summer, for a Scandinavian-style crime series -- a body discovered face down in the mud.

I walked up to a boat shed and looked out at Newtown quay, which has been there since medieval times, when it was the most important port on the Isle of Wight. Over the years it silted-up and other ports like Newport and Yarmouth took over. The views out to Gull Island and the wider estuary are fabulous and I could hear laughter and voices from a moored sailing boat and a family of ducks swimming on the still water. I continued on around two large ponds that were once salt-pans, used for salt production up until the the 1930s.

My walk back took me across a field with paths mowed in the long grass where I saw a whole variety of butterflies and insects. By the time I’d got back to the car I felt so relaxed and amazed at the variety of landscapes we have here on the Island. Newtown Nature Reserve is definitely one of my favourites and I know I’ll be back very soon.  

Philip Bell Author Photo by Chris Cowley

22 August 2018

By Philip Bell in The locals' blogs