The Island was separated from the mainland around 7000 years ago at the end of the last ice age. The North West Hamstead Heritage Coast facing the New Forest was recognized in 1974 for its beautiful, undeveloped coastline, which is managed to conserve its natural beauty. This tranquil and secretive coastline of low sloping clay cliffs crowned with woodland and farmland has inlets, estuaries and creeks; this beautiful area offers a haven for wildlife including the native Red Squirrel and migratory birds. Hamstead Heritage Coast includes the National Trust land of Newtown National Nature Reserve and Forestry Commission woodland of Bouldnor Forest.
The Heritage Coast can be accessed along the coastal path the goes around the Island, from Bouldnor near Yarmouth or Thorness near Cowes, with many other footpaths from Newtown, Shalfleet and the surrounding areas leading across the fields and woodland to the coastline.
Newtown Coast Map courtesy Isle of Wight AONB Partnership © Alan Rowe
The Tennyson Heritage Coast along the south west was also recognised in 1974. In contrast to Hamstead, it has breathtaking rugged clay and sandstone cliffs, with open aspect long distance views to the English Channel. It includes the iconic Needles chalk stacks and multi-coloured cliffs. It is a fossil rich coastline and the well known for dinosaur footprints, chines and lighthouses.
Tennyson Heritage Coast Map courtesy Isle of Wight AONB Partnership © Alan Rowe