The diamond-shaped Isle Web Posting Reviews of Wight covers an area of approximately 380 kilometers. ‘The Isle of Wight Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ covers slightly more than half of the island and is mainly located in the Western portion. This beautiful island also supports approximately 258 kilometers of active farmland and has approximately 52 kilometers of miscellaneous developed areas. The Island is outlined with approximately 92 kilometers of coastline with a variety of terrain. The Isle of Wight sports a remarkably variable landscape which has worked to give it the description of “England in Miniature”. The Western portion of Isle of Wight is predominantly a rural location that is created with a dramatic coastline dominated by the famous chalk downland ridge which runs across the whole island and ends in The Needles stacks. This is quite probably the part of the island most represented in photographed aspects of the Isle of Wight. This island is covered with a plethora of different elevations, the highest point being St Boniface Down at 241 Meters which is a Marilyn.
The soft cliffs and sea ledges on the island are spectacular features, but their number one use is home to wildlife and they are internationally protected. The rest of the landscape of the island is just as diverse in landscape and nature. The River Medina etches it’s way through the landscape, North into the Solent, whilst the River Yar cuts its way North East and emerges at Bembridge Harbour which is at the Eastern end of the Island. Prior to a foray into land reclamation, Bembridge and Yaverland was an island unto itself. It was separated from the main island by Brading Haven. Prior to the Victorian era, Bembridge was basically a collection of farmhouses and little wood huts, it didn’t consolidate into a real village until 1827 when a new church was built (and the later rebuilt in 1846). Bembridge still retains part of it’s past and that can be seen close to the church in the Northern portion of the village, along with the Village Hall and the site of the former Parish Council hall.
There is also an entirely different river at the Western end that is also named the River Yar which flows the short distance from Freshwater bay to the large estuary at Yarmouth, the locals generally refer to them as Eastern and Western Yar. Yarmouth has been an active settlement for over a thousand years and is considered one of the earliest on the Isle of White. Its original name was Creme, which means ‘muddy estuary’. The streets of Yarmouth were laid out on a grid system by the Normans and that system still remains today. Yarmouth became a parliamentary borough during the Middle Ages and the Yarmouth constituency was represented through two Parliament members until 1832. Yarmouth was continually raided by the French, even said to have been burned down in 1544. It is said that the church bells were carried off to Cherbourg or Boulogne. The raids discontinued after the building of the Yarmouth Castle. The castle was constructed in 1547 and still remains today, under the care of the English Heritage. It its time, the castle was considered a strategically important foothold for any attempt to invade England.
Bordered by the English Channel on the south, it is thought that without intervention from man, the island might have been split into three islands with the sea separating the parcels of land. Yarmouth and Freshwater Bay would essentially be their own islands. Freshwater Bay is a small cove that is close to the steep chalk cliffs. One of Freshwater Bay’s landmarks ‘The Arch Rock’ collapsed on October 25, 1992, but the neighboring ‘Stag Rock’ (thought to be named such because of a stage that leaped to its surface from a cliff in order to escape a hunting party)
still remains. Arch Rock was preceded to the ground by a huge slab known as ‘Mermaid Rock’ which fell in 1968. There is also a hill named ‘Hooke Hill’ named after Robert Hooke, a scientist of world renown.
The red squirrel is flourishing with a stable population on this island which along with Brownsea Island makes them unique as most of England is experiencing a dearth of a presence of this particular squirrel species. Most of England is heavily populated by the gray squirrel, which is not to be found on this island (this may explain the stable population of red squirrel). There are amazing, no wild deer on this island. The island does host a rare and protected species of the dormouse and also many rare species of bats. The Glanville Fritillary butterfly also inhabits the island for most of its life as a spiny black caterpillar, then spends a few glorious weeks as a beautiful orange and white butterfly. This beautiful butterfly mainly inhabits the crumbling cliffs of the isle of Wight. These crumbling cliffs are also known for their rich deposits of dinosaur fossils that become exposed as the cliffs erode. The Pyramidal Orchid which sports a bright purple ball of flowers at the top of a tall stalk was named the Isle of Wight’s county flower in a competition in 2002.
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