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Explore the Natural Beauty of the Isle of Wight National Landscape

CEO Tinh Phung
Many visitors are drawn to the Isle of Wight for its stunning coastline, rolling downland, and picturesque woods and forests. But did you know that over fifty percent of the island's natural landscape is protected...

Many visitors are drawn to the Isle of Wight for its stunning coastline, rolling downland, and picturesque woods and forests. But did you know that over fifty percent of the island's natural landscape is protected under the Isle of Wight National Landscape (IWNL)? Formerly known as the Area of Outstanding Natural beauty (AONB), the IWNL is dedicated to preserving and maintaining the island's breathtaking natural beauty. Linked with the UNESCO Biosphere designation, the IWNL ensures that the island looks its best when you come to visit.

What is a National Landscape?

Being a National Landscape means that several organizations are actively involved in its preservation. They work tirelessly to maintain the peaceful and idyllic environment while understanding the importance of supporting the rural economy.

Which parts of the Isle of Wight are in the National Landscape?

More than half of the Isle of Wight falls within the IWNL, with the majority located in the south and west. However, there are five different areas spread across the island. These areas offer a diverse range of landscapes to explore, from the stunning coastline to the enchanting woodlands where you can find rare species such as the bee orchid and the Glanville fritillary butterfly.

Military Road, West Wight on the Isle of Wight Image: Military Road, West Wight on the Isle of Wight

South and West Wight

The majority of the Isle of Wight National Landscape can be found in the west of the island, stretching from the charming town of Yarmouth and The Needles in the north, down to Ventnor and St Catherine’s Point in the south. This area also includes the Freshwater area, the picturesque villages of Brighstone and Godshill, the southwest coast and Military Road, Brighstone Forest, and St Boniface Down, the highest point on the island.

East Wight

On the other side of the island lies the East Wight parcel, extending inland from the picturesque Bembridge Harbour to the ancient Brading Roman Villa. Journey along the spine of the island's natural chalk downs and explore the outskirts of Newport. Bembridge offers lovely coastal walks, wildlife-rich beaches, and a bustling village center with charming pubs, shops, and restaurants. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in history at the Brading Roman Villa.

To experience awe-inspiring views of the entire island, venture out and explore the downs. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of Sussex, Portsmouth, and Southampton.

Aerial view of Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight - English Heritage Image: Aerial view of Osborne House, East Cowes, Isle of Wight - English Heritage

Quarr and North Wight

Two smaller areas of the Isle of Wight National Landscape are located on the north coast. The area surrounding Quarr Abbey, stretching towards Binstead on the outskirts of Ryde, offers a peaceful haven. Visitors can explore the beautiful monastery and enjoy views across The Solent towards Portsmouth. The other part of the North Wight National Landscape extends from the outskirts of Wootton Creek to the outskirts of East Cowes. Rising from the lush countryside is one of the island's most iconic buildings, Osborne House. This 19th-century Italianate villa was built by Albert for his beloved Queen Victoria. Visit the house and its stunning grounds, or simply follow the coastal path that skirts the estate.

North West Wight

Last but not least, the North West Wight parcel encompasses the outskirts of Cowes and Gurnard, Thorness Bay's shoreline, historic Newtown's watery splendor, the charming village of Shalfleet, and Hamstead Ledge, as well as the Bouldnor Forest nature reserve.

Group of cyclists in Ventnor, Isle of Wight Image: Group of cyclists in Ventnor, Isle of Wight

What can we do in a National Landscape?

The natural landscapes of the Isle of Wight offer a wide range of activities for everyone to enjoy. From off-road cycling through the forests to surfing at the West Wight bays, adrenaline junkies will find endless fun. Coasteering, sailing, walking, and paragliding are also fantastic ways to explore the scenic spots of the island. For a comprehensive guide to Isle of Wight adventure activities, click here!

Can we stay in the National Landscape?

Absolutely! If you truly want to immerse yourself in the spirit of sustainable stays in the IWNL, consider exploring the best eco-friendly locations, including glamping options. Moreover, the Isle of Wight National Landscape is abundant in delicious food and drink offerings. Our guide to Island food outlets and farm shops will help you discover scrumptious meals made with fresh local produce from the soil and the sea.

Say Yes to the Isle of Wight National Landscape

"All this beauty is of God" is one of the Isle of Wight's mottos. So why not come and experience the areas that showcase the island at its natural best? The Isle of Wight National Landscape is a treasure trove of breathtaking sights and remarkable outdoor experiences, waiting for you to explore and enjoy.

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