These Feet Were Made for Walking
The Island is full of hidden treasures. Whether you’re wearing your flip flops, wellies or walking boots, there is something to discover all year round…
Whatever footwear you decide to wear, you are more than likely to end up wandering across land or property that belongs to the National Trust during your visit. The Trust looks after over 4,500 acres of breathtaking Island countryside and more than 17 miles of stunning coastline. Wherever you end up will be a treat for the senses, but some inside knowledge is never a bad thing. We asked the Trust to pick some of their favourite gems. They came back with a fascinating selection of places, many of which are hidden treasures, to explore throughout the year.
- JANUARY: Take your wellies for a walk to the most southerly tip on the Island, St Catherine’s Down and Knowles Farm. This is one of the few places in the south of England with dry stone walls and it has great views to blow away the winter cobwebs.
- FEBRUARY: This is a good month for a spot of bird watching at Newtown National Nature Reserve. Download the National Trust’s free audio trail nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight to learn about the local wildlife, whilst looking out for over-wintering birds, which can be seen feeding on the edges of the creek at low tide.
- MARCH: Search for the hungry caterpillars at Sudmore Point, near Brook. The Island’s south coast is the only place in the UK that you are likely to see the Glanville Fritillary butterfly. These beautiful creatures are gold and black with red-brown heads and can be seen living in the webs that they use to keep themselves warm on the edges of the cliffs and undercliffs.
- APRIL: Take your binoculars to Ventnor Down to watch migrant spring birds, including wheatears, redstarts, whitethroats and blackcaps, that have arrived at their summer home from Africa. If you’re into geocaching – treasure hunting for the digital generation – your binoculars will come in useful for that too!
- MAY: Bluebells thrive on the Isle of Wight because of the warm climate and chalk downs. Head to Borthwood, a mystical place to capture the bluebells on camera. Alternatively, put on your walking boots and join in with the Isle of Wight Walking Festival to discover other springtime flowering flora and fauna.
- JUNE: Put on your flip flops and head to the surfers’ hang out, Compton Beach. Enjoy the sand between your toes or look out for spring butterflies feeding on the gorse. The Green Hairstreak butterfly looks copper coloured when it’s flying, but when it’s at rest it shows the underside of its wings which are green with a faint white stripe – hence its name.
- JULY: Mottistone Common is a good place to see nightjars. The birds are quite mysterious and have a distinct churring sound when on their perch. The best chance to see them is at dusk on a warm, still evening. Why not join one of the National Trust rangers to look for them on 11 July? See the Trust’s website for further details of this guided walk – and don’t forget to bring a torch.
- AUGUST: Headon Warren and Luccombe Down are perfect places to enjoy a summer picnic. The flowering heather creates swathes of pink and purple alongside the windy paths. To make more of your visit, the Trust has designed a number of interesting trails – download them from nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight.
- SEPTEMBER: Watch a stunning September sunset from the top of Compton Down and look out for autumn orchids called Ladies’ Tresses. These tiny white flowers have their petals arranged in spirals and they thrive in the short downland turf.
- OCTOBER: Borthwood is the best place on the Island for hunting sweet chestnuts to take home to roast. Red squirrels can also be regularly seen at this time of year looking for beach and hazel nuts. Plus, of course, there’s the Autumn Walking Weeked this month with plenty of good National Trust walks to enjoy.
- NOVEMBER: For a leafy autumnal walk, head to Walters Corpse, Newtown with its oak, ash and hazel trees. As you walk around, look out for the many types of colourful fungi that can be seen in the wood at this time – but please don’t pick them.
- DECEMBER: Where better to walk off the Christmas pudding and mince pies than at St Helens Duver. Park in the National Trust car park and wander across the sand dunes and down to the sea to enjoy views across Spithead to Portsmouth and beyond.
To find out more, visit nationaltrust.org.uk/isleofwight.