Walking the West Wight

Walking is the best way to get to know the hidden corners of West Wight.

Coastal Path

Photo: Albany Associates

The classic walk from the bothy at Freshwater Bay is over Tennyson Down and West High Down to the Needles.

Rambles by Bus

Another good option is walking the Pilgrim’s Way to Brook Down and then back via Compton Farm. Or just stick to the coastal path to Hanover Point or Brook Chine and walk back towards Freshwater Bay along the beach to the steps near Compton Chine.

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10 thoughts on “Walking the West Wight

  1. One of my favourites is Coastguard Lane, then through Afton Marsh and along the former railway line to Yarmouth.
    You can reach Moa Place, Freshwater, via Bedbury Lane, Granny’s Meade and along Queen’s Road past the thatched cottages of Pound Green. From Moa Place you can set off over Golden Hill for the Yar estuary and Fort Victoria, or west to Totland and along the esplanade to Colwell.
    If you take the bus to Ningwood there are walks to the common and Cranmore; and, for views of the Solent, Hamstead Point and the Newtown River. At Newtown itself, there is a selection of easy strolls through the nature reserve. Take your camera and watch the birdie. Or take the bus to Mottistone and walk on the downs to the Long Stone, or south towards the sea at Chilton Chine.
    The library near Moa Place has maps and leaflets to help you get started. It’s something to do all year round.

  2. If you are feeling energetic head towards Calbourne for the Tennyson Trail where it crosses Mottistone Down. There is a car park near the junction of Strawberry Lane and Lynch Lane. Walk onto the downs and follow the track on your right. Much of the thin soil here is on gravel not chalk.
    This is the place to spot the chalkhill blue (Lysandra corridon) and the red and black burnet moth (Zygaena filipendulae, also known as the forester or smoky moth) that flies by day. The cinnabar moth is bright red and black with red spots on its wings. This is also one of just a few moths that flies by day.
    The marbled-white butterfly (Malargia galathea) appears in late summer. The peacock butterfly (Inochis io) is a sign of spring. You may also spot the Jersey tiger moth (a new-comer thanks to a warmer climate) and the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) that is rare in Britain. This butterfly has a distinctive pattern in orange, black and white. It loves the soft undercliff, chine grassland and the slopes on the south coast of West Wight.

  3. Despite the wet weather our visitors this week have been out and about and proving that rain and having no car don’t stop you enjoying the scenery and having a really good holiday at any time of year. We’ve had some wonderful winter seas… lots of crashing waves pounding the beach and cliffs. Unfortunately that means a few sections of landslip. The coastline changes all the time.

  4. Walking is the perfect excuse for a cream tea… I must keep my sugar levels up! One of the best in West Wight is the Courtyard Cafe at Chessell Pottery Barns between Brook and Calbourne. http://www.chessellpotterybarns.co.uk. Seasonal opening. And you get to eat off their own Island pottery, too. But the key thing is all Island produce… flour, butter and milk (homemade scones), jam (homemade) and local clotted cream. Then the walk home across the downs or along the white clifftops. Perfect.

  5. I’ve started looking along the cliffs for signs of the potter flower bee. The Isle of Wight is one of just a few sites in the south-east of England where it is clinging on. Bees are vital to local ecology and crop pollination helps protect the character of our landscape. In the past 100 years in Britain 20 species of bee have disappeared. The endangered potter flower bee is solitary and prefers sandy soils, dunes, cliffs and commons. Gardens with clover, ground ivy and birds’ foot trefoil are good places to look, too. It darts about very quickly using its long tongue to collect pollen and sugary nectar. The female is very hairy and black with orange hairs on her hind legs. The male is brownish ginger all over with yellow marking on his face.

  6. Silver-washed Fritillary
    A walk though the copses in Newtown Nature Reserve in West Wight reveal that they are home to a beautiful butterfly that is larger than the red admiral. Adults are on the wing throughout the summer from late June to the end of August.
    They live in large broad-leaved woodlands (especially oak woodlands), and feed on flowers such as bramble in sunny glades and rides. The caterpillars feed on violets, particularly common dog-violet.
    The silver-washed fritillary is our largest fritillary and gets its name from the beautiful streaks of silver found on the underside of the wings. The bright orange male is quite distinctive as it flies powerfully along woodland rides, pausing only briefly to feed or investigate anything with an orange hue that could be a potential mate.
    The male has four, very broad, black stripes across the forewings that contain special “androconial” scales that are used in courtship. These veins are known as “sex brands”. The female is paler than the male, has rounder wings and more-prominent spots.
    The silver-washed fritillary suffered declines in the 20th century but has been spreading in recent years.

  7. Nightjars

    The nightjar is one of Britain’s rarer birds but you will find them while walking on the Isle of Wight on heathlands, in open woodland with clearings and in recently felled conifer plantations. It arrives in the United Kingdom between late April and mid May and leaves mainly in August and September. It is best looked for and listened for at dusk on warm, still, summer evenings.

    Nightjars have grey-brown, mottled, streaked and barred plumage that provides ideal camouflage in the daytime. They are nocturnal birds and hunt for food at dusk and dawn. Ancient folklore has it that nightjars sucked milk from goats, the reason they are sometimes referred to as goatsuckers. This, and their silent flight, has given them an almost supernatural reputation.

    The first indication that a nightjar is near is usually the male’s churning song, rising and falling a bit like a ventriloquist. Recently it has been claimed that mobile apps mimicking the nightjar’s song may pose a real threat, as the sounds diverts it from the important business of nesting.

    • I just found this online log: http://iowbirds.awardspace.com/IOW.htm

      It includes:
      2013
      1 January, Yarmouth
      robin, blackbird, crow, moorhen, mallard, teal, widgeon, canada geese, reed bunting, coot, little grebe, wren, herring gull, mute swan, black-tailed godwit, brent geese, black-headed gull, curlew, redshank, grey plover, magpie, little egret, heron, goldeneye, wood pigeon, kingfisher, kestrel, sparrow hawk, tufted duck, goldcrest, greenfinch, pied wagtail, great tit, house sparrow, dunnock, blue tit, golden plover, starling, goldfinch, collared dove, pheasant, jay, long-tailed tit, shoveler, jackdaw.

      Beat that!

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