Hamstead Heritage Coast
This coast stretches along the northwestern (Solent) shore of the Isle of Wight from Yarmouth harbour to Thorness Bay, near Cowes. Much of the Isle of Wight is administered as an Ara of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), and Hamstead Heritage Coast is included in that designation. The coast itself is a region of salt marshes and mudflats backed by low cliffs of clay. Flocks of redshanks, oystercatchers, and ringed plovers visit the coast regularly.
At Bouldnor, near Hamstead, these cliffs are especially rich in fossils - it has been claimed that this exposed deposit of Oligocene fossils embedded in the clay is the richest on earth.
Newtown was a busy port in the early medieval period, eclipsing its more famous rivals Newport and Yarmouth in size and importance, but a raid by the French in 1377 razed the town, and it lapsed into peaceful obscurity. The Newtown River estuary is now a Nature Reserve owned by the National Trust.
Area Countryside attractions
Isle of Wight AONB
Almost exactly half of the area of the Isle of Wight has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a recognition of its scenic and ecological value. The AONB takes in the Hamstead and Tennyson Heritage Coasts, and the lovely chalk downlands than extend into the interior of the island.
Tennyson Heritage Coast:
The coast begins at Totland on the Solent, and stretches along the southwest shore of the Isle of Wight nearly to Ventnor. Along the way, it passes the dramatic chalk stack of The Needles promontory and skirts shingle beaches and high cliffs - and a petrified forest of fossilized conifers! More ...
The Hamstead Trail:
This walking path runs for 8 miles from the cliffs at Newtown Bay to Brook Bay on the southwest coast. It passes through open countryside and rolling fields on its way to the coast. The Isle of Wight Council (see below) produces a trail leaflet for walkers.
OS Landranger series #196