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Wightlink’s guide to Going Green on a breakaway to the Isle of Wight


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Going greener on holiday There has never been a better time to Go Greener on holiday. The papers are packed with green advice, ‘A’ list celebrities like Julia Roberts and George Clooney are supporting green causes and now politicians are embracing the concept. Meanwhile, survey after survey confirms that the average Brit is keen to Go Greener at home – and on holiday, where ecotourism is the travel industry’s fastest growing sector.

Sustainable tourism is the new buzz word and it’s a key priority for the Isle of Wight, one of the UK’s most enduring destinations. As the first UK area to undertake an Ecological Footprint of its natural resource usage, the Island is taking active steps to reduce waste and pollution. These extend to tourism where conservation projects and eco-friendly initiatives are helping visitors to enjoy a greener Island break. In this guide, Wightlink takes a light-hearted look at how consumers can put good green intentions into action. A Wighter Shade of Green aims to help maximise the fun and minimise the environmental impact of a trip to an Island, where more

Eric the Eco-Warrior Caring and committed, Eric represents 20% of you, female and male, who want to save the planet. A backpacker by nature, he has forsaken the car in favour of walking or cycling, pays more for green products and wears eco-clothing.

than half the landscape is classified an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. But what are your green intentions? Wightlink posed the question in a website survey and found that whilst most people care about the environment, it was more difficult to put good intentions into action. From more than 1,000 responses, we have created four green – or not so green – types and our guide provides holiday solutions for each.


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Jack & Jill Green Think The Good Life. Well meaning and environmentally conscious, 25% of you fit this mould. You want to do more but are not sure how – and cost is an issue.

The Basic Browns Brown families account for around 50% of you. Green living doesn’t go much further than recycling plastics and glass or turning off the lights. But you are keen to learn.

The Grubs CO2 emissions, global warming and healthy living are a total mystery to the 5% of Grubs. They’re not sure what recycling means. Perhaps there’s a bit of Grub in us all.


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Green ways to travel  Eco-warriors will want to put their best foot forward and walk the Wight. There are more than 500 miles of marked footpaths to discover, leading through varied countryside from towering chalk cliffs and tranquil nature reserves to lively seaside resorts.  Top deck travel: families can enjoy fresh air fun and see spectacular scenery by travelling around the Island on an open top bus. There are ‘three hopon, hop-off’ tours to choose from - the Downs, the Needles and Sandown Bay with plenty of opportunities to break the trip for a walk, to go sightseeing or visit a green attraction. Using Southern Vectis’ extensive

inter-connecting bus network (www. islandbuses.info), you can get practically anywhere on the Island.  On the rails: Island Line trains connect Ryde and Shanklin, stopping at seven stations including Brading, Lake and Sandown along the way. Twice hourly during daytime, this is a useful way of getting from A to B in just 24 minutes.  Pedal power: The Isle of Wight is one big cycle track! Energetic types can choose a bike ride from Wightlink’s Easy, Peasy Pedalling guide, follow one of 12 circular marked cycling

trails or go for broke on an eight hour, 62-mile ‘Round the Island’ route. Take your own bike or hire from Gold Green Island Tourism award winner Wight Offroad (www.wightoffroad.com).  Keep down the car miles: Grubs with green intentions can plan a daily route that keeps car use to a minimum. Drive to a destination, then park it!


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Getting to the Isle of Wight It couldn’t be easier. Travel on foot, on your bike – cycles are carried free with passengers on all Wightlink ferries – or take the car (but plan to use it as little as possible once on the Island!) Three Wightlink ferry routes link the Isle of Wight to the mainland – from LymingtonYarmouth (30 minutes) and Portsmouth GunwharfFishbourne (from 40 minutes) for cars and foot passengers or Portsmouth Harbour-Ryde Pier Head (around 18 minutes) FastCat

foot passenger catamarans. And there are plenty of crossings to choose from - more than 200 sailings a day during peak periods Quids in: Check out the money-saving day trip tickets and 5-day saver fares for short breakers offered by Wightlink. Call 0870 582 7744 or visit www. wightlink.co.uk/specialoffers for details of the latest ticket offers.


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A Green Island

The Isle of Wight is green in more ways than one. First off, the Island has one of the greenest landscapes in Britain with high rolling downs, ancient forests and meadows, wetlands, rich pastures and even a sub-tropical southern Undercliff. It’s also a place where conservation is at the heart of things – so green tourism is about action, not words. Green landscape: natural beauty

Around half of the Island, much of it in the south and west, is classified an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), to conserve and protect its natural beauty. This includes much of the Island’s diverse coastline and encompasses two Heritage Coasts,

a categorisation given only to the most unspoilt coastlines in England and Wales. There’s south coast Tennyson Heritage Coast, with its spectacular chalk cliffs, and the Hamstead Heritage Coast in the north, dominated by the important estuary at Newtown. In addition, there are 40 separate Sites of Special

Scientific Interest (SSSIs), covering 11% of the Island’s landscape. Some are owned privately, others by conservation bodies like the National Trust, Woodland Trust and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, whilst several are managed by the Isle of Wight Council’s Countryside Section. All are listed for their national


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– many featured in these pages - are rewarded with either Gold, Silver or Bronze standards for their commitment to improving their environmental performance. You can find full details at www.greenislandtourism. com, where there’s a guide to all things green on Wight.

Gift to Nature

biological or geological importance and some are internationally recognised as being crucial to the survival of rare wildlife. The common denominator to both is that AONBs and SSSIs are great green places to visit and discover the beauty of the Island landscape.

Green Island tourism in action

The Isle of Wight means business when it comes to sustainable tourism and has set up a programme dedicated to developing a more environmentally sensitive tourism industry on the Island. Central to this is an award programme where Wight organisations

Here’s where tourism and conservation work hand in hand. Devised and run by Island 2000 Trust, Gift to Nature is a scheme that enables tourists to play their part in helping to protect rare creatures by making a voluntary donation – and every penny raised goes towards local conservation projects. So far Gift to Nature has funded an

improved habitat for Ventnor’s rare wall lizard, built a red squirrel hide and trail in Parkhurst Forest, developed a wetland walk near Sandown that’s enhanced life for the local kingfisher population and, most recently, improved the site at Totland Wild Meadow, a haven for butterflies and rare wildflowers like the green-winged orchid and corky-fruited waterdropwort. Trail cards for all these projects are available by visiting www.gifttonature. co.uk or calling 01983 298098.


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Top eco-sites We could only choose 10 from so many, but here’s Wightlink’s pick of the best eco-sites to explore. 1. Alverstone Mead

A Gold Green Island Awards winner, this 44-acre reserve, south of the Sandown-Newport cycleway, is a wetland area of a type that’s becoming a national rarity. Ancient woodland, hay meadows, wet meadows and ditches have made this a wildlife playground – with rare flora and fauna to see, including water voles, who flourish on the mink-free Island. AONB, SSSI.

2. America Wood

This ancient pasture woodland – unusual for the Isle of Wight - lies inland from Shanklin. It’s a spectacular place to walk through the seasons, starting in spring when the bluebells flower. Although famous primarily for its oaks, russet-coloured sweet chestnuts make America Wood a splendid sight in autumn. SSSI.

3. Firestone Copse

Close to Wootton Creek in the north, Firestone Copse is an extensive area of ancient broadleaved woodland. Home to the rare red squirrel and dormouse, the extensive range of trees found there include sessile oaks, grand fir and coppiced hazel, and the copse is carpeted year round in a succession of daffodils, bluebells and the rare narrow-leaved lungwort. SSSI.

4. Headen Warren

Headen Warren is that rarity in the south of England: a glorious heathland covered during the summer in rich purple heather. From the 120 metre high summit of this National Trust heathland, which tumbles into the sea at Totland Bay, there are stunning views of The Needles. AONB, SSSI.

5. Newtown Estuary

The National Nature Reserve at north coast Newtown is a National Trust treasure with important habitats including mud-flats, salt marshes, ancient woodlands and meadows. This is a place for birdwatchers and walkers, interested to spot rare and threatened wildlife, with some 300 wild plants and 180 bird species recorded. AONB, SSSI.


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6. St Catherine’s Point

This is the most southerly tip of the Isle of Wight, a remote area of wild scenery. From St. Catherine’s Down above, there are staggering views, rare plants like the hoary stock to spot and walks around the medieval ‘Pepperpot’, Britain’s second oldest lighthouse. AONB, SSSI.

7. Tennyson Heritage Coast

The imposing chalk cliffs at Freshwater Bay and beyond them, the Needles, are the most famous landmarks of the Tennyson Heritage Coast, which stretches from St Lawrence to Totland Bay and takes in the fossil-rich clay cliffs of the south coast as well as the multicoloured sandstone ones at Alum Bay. AONB, SSSI.

8. The Landslip

This lush plateau of woodland clinging to the edge of the cliff beyond Bonchurch is known as the Landslip because of the ‘blue slipper’ clay that has caused successive, very gradual, slips. Accessed from Monks Bay or – more daringly – from a fissure in the rock called the Devil’s Chimney, this is a peaceful area to walk, with great sea views.

9. The Undercliff

A large area of south coast landslip that includes St Lawrence, Ventnor and Bonchurch, the Undercliff is a semi-tropical landscape like no other. The area’s warm ‘microclimate’ made it a centre for the treatment of respiratory diseases in Victorian times and inspired the planting of exotic species from the British Empire. Now it is a unique landscape full of lush vegetation.

10. Western Yar Estuary

So important is the Western Yar Estuary for nature conservation, that it is protected by six different national and international designations! Extending from Freshwater Causeway to Yarmouth, this is a fascinating area of extensive mudflats, reedbeds and saltmarsh, crammed full of wildlife. Expect to see wading birds and waterfowl – and, if you’re lucky, a red squirrel. AONB, SSSI.


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Top Eco Sites

Green Days Out

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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Alverstone Mead America Wood Firestone Copse Headen Warren Newtown Estuary St Catherine’s Point Tennyson Heritage Coast The Landslip The Undercliff Western Yar Estuary

Brading Roman Villa Calbourne Water Mill Dinosaur Isle Osborne House Afton Park Gardens Ventnor Botanic Garden Robin Hill Country Park Parkhurst Forest St Helen’s Duver Hanover Point


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Wight’s a walker’s paradise The greenest option of them all, there’s a walk for everyone on Wight – whether as part of a guided trek, during the annual walking festival in May or as the mood takes you on a short stroll or a challenging ramble through the countryside. Green nature walks

Green types can find out more about the rare flora and fauna of the Isle of Wight – and the steps being taken to preserve them - on a nature walk. Go it alone and take the Wetland Walk, a 1½ mile Gift to Nature trail created by the conservation group Island 2000 Trust. This leads through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty just north of Sandown, bordered by the River Yar, where kingfishers nest and water voles live in the ditches of steam that flow through the area.

See migrant birds, flowers and rare indigenous butterflies at Brading Marshes, the newest RSPB nature reserve, on one of the regular guided Sunday morning walks (May-September, £4 nonmembers, £2 members, 10am-12.30pm, meeting Brading Railway Station). Or become a Wildlife Warrior and join practical conservation sessions held in the Isle of Wight’s local nature reserves on the first Tuesday of each month (more information: 01983 823893/countryside@iow. gov.uk).

Walks to test an eco-warrior

Straddle the Isle of Wight’s backbone on an invigorating 42 mile hike across the Island, which crosses from dramatic Culver Cliff in the east to The Needles in the west, taking in Arreton Down, the Tennyson Trail and Headen Warren en route. Go one step further – another 25 miles in fact – and see the best of Coastal Wight on the marathon Round the Island walk. Details of both are found in Wightlink Walking, a collection of four long walks for confident ramblers.


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Quick dash to the pub

Even the most reluctant of walkers will like the idea of a short stroll followed by a long lunch at the pub – and Wightlink offers nine different options in its Isle of Wight Pub Walks guide. The shortest – ideal for Grub types – is an easy 40 minute walk on the flat down to the quaint old boatyard at Shalfleet Quay, affording fantastic views of the estuary and its bird life all the way. The walk starts and ends at the highly-rated New Inn, actually an ancient inn with a good range of real ales and wine.

Family fun walks

Brown families can head to the east coast and combine a fresh air walk along the interest-filled shoreline at Bembridge with the chance to paddle in the shallow waters and explore the rock pools of one of the Isle of Wight’s best beaches. At just over four miles in length, the walk, one of Wightlink’s Isle of Wight Pub Walks, is a tad shorter than the five mile children’s walk that leads around the 88-acre woodland and countryside of Robin Hill Park. Featured in 10,000 Steps, another Wightlink guide, this gives kids the opportunity to stop along the way and enjoy some of the park’s natural

and man-made attractions, including a huge Colossus Swing Boat.

Walks from Wightlink

Wightlink Walking, Isle of Wight Pub Walks and 10,000 Steps, Walking to Fitness on the Isle of Wight are available free from Wightlink (0870 582 7744 or see them online at www.wightlink.co.uk.) Check details of the latest countryside walks on Wight at: www.iwight. com/walks


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Green days out There are attractions galore on the Isle of Wight. Here we recommend the best of Wight’s green award-winners – as well as suggesting some fun-packed free days out. And if you’re travelling on foot, most are within easy reach of Wightlink’s Fishbourne and Ryde gateways – by bus or train. Green award-winning attractions Brading Roman Villa Europe’s most advanced Roman Exhibition Centre, this third-century villa provides a great insight into Roman life with some of the UK’s best examples of 4th century mosaics. A state-ofthe-art glass roofed structure houses the west wing and there is an interactive display with plenty for curious kids to do, plus an amphitheatre and Roman gardens. Bronze Award, Green Island Tourism. Find out more: 01983 406223/ www. bradingromanvilla.org.uk Calbourne Water Mill Grinding flour using only the power of water, this 17th century working water mill produces tons of freshly milled flour on a site where milling has taken place

since Domesday times. A renewable energy centre, rural museum, woodland walk and punting on the mill stream are a few of the attractions within a 10-acre rural landscape. Gold Award, Green Island Tourism. Find out more: 01983 531227/www. calbournewatermill.co.uk Dinosaur Isle Designed in the shape of a giant pterodactyl, the UK’s first purpose built dinosaur museum has over 1,000 of the Isle of Wight’s best fossil finds, life-sized dinosaur models and a host of interactive exhibits that bring the dinosaur age to life. These include a ‘feelbox’ where you have to guess what you’re touching – it might be dinosaur poo! Gold Award, Green Island Tourism. Find out more: 01983 404344/ www.dinosaurisle.com


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Gardens galore Often called the Garden Isle, there are inspiring collections in all corners of the Isle of Wight. These range from the formal gardens at Osborne House (Gold Award, www.englishheritage.org.uk), with some of the UK’s finest Cedars as well as historic Cork Oak trees, to the naturalistic collection of grasses at Afton Park (Gold Award, www. aftonpark.co.uk) where the focus is on organic gardening to encourage wildlife. At sub-tropical Ventnor Botanic Garden (Silver Award, www.botanic. co.uk) there’s one of the UK’s biggest outdoor displays of Southern Hemisphere plants. Look out too for the new garden displays at 88-acre Robin Hill Country Park (www.robin-hill.com)

Green and free for all On safari The Isle of Wight is believed to be the last English refuge for the Red Squirrel – and in Parkhurst Forest Gift to Nature has created a two mile Red Squirrel Safari woodland trail. Gen up on squirrel facts in the log cabin hide, then follow the clues.

Comb the beach Any trip to the Isle of Wight should include a beach visit. There’s 60 miles of shoreline to explore, with famous golden sands and interestfilled rocky landscapes. East coast St Helen’s Duver has it all – rock pools teeming with tiny sealife, rare plants to spot and a sandy beach to boot. In the footsteps of dinosaurs Some of Europe’s most exciting dino-finds have been made at Hanover Point where the bones of 120 million-year-old dinosaurs regularly fall out of the clay cliffs. Follow in the footsteps of dinosaurs like the plantloving Iguanadon by walking along the beach towards the petrified forest, exposed at low tide, and discover giant casts of their footprints.

Find the wild zone Families with children aged five or more can take part in one of the special summer holiday activities. Costing £2 each, these range from Be a Wildlife Detective, where families carry out explorations using the National Trust Tracker Pack to Wet, Wet, Wet Minibeasts, a look at

wildlife in freshwater ponds and sea water pools. Call 01983 741020 to book.

Wightlink day trips Wightlink’s Days Out leaflet features special deals on combined travel and attraction entry. Check it out online at www. wightlink.co.uk


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Actively green Whether it’s for cutting edge extreme sports, a leisurely bike ride or an activity that’s rather more ‘off-the-wall’, the Isle of Wight is fast becoming a mecca for energetic outdoor types. Extreme action

On our Beginner’s Island the conditions are good for adventure sports and just taxing enough, without being too daunting, for complete novices to ‘have a go’ at a new activity. Check out Wightlink’s website guide for the low down (www.wightlink.co.uk/ howto). With its sheltered conditions, the east coast, around Bembridge, is an ideal location for kitesurfing. The ultimate adrenaline rush, kitesurfing is an exciting fusion of surfing, windsurfing,

wakeboarding, paragliding and kite-flying. Eco warriors can try it at one of the UK’s premier schools, X-Isle Sports (www.x-is.co.uk), winner of the Green Island Service Provider award. Great wave conditions make south coast Wight an excellent place to learn to surf or windsurf as well. With courses to suit all standards – including ones for children, Wightwaters (www.wightwaters.com) is the place for Brown families to put a foot in the water. By contrast, daredevils

can have a go at paragliding off the cliffs near Freshwater with High Adventure (www. high-adventure.uk.com). Watch out for: the annual White Air extreme sports festival in October. For four adrenalin-packed days you can watch the professionals on the water and on dry land, or try a host of challenging sports yourself (www.whiteair.co.uk).

On your bike

However rusty you are, there’s a bike ride to suit on the Isle of Wight. The eight hour, 62mile Round the Island route, with its contrast of challenging cliff climbs and quiet country lanes, is strictly an eco-experience. But there are 12 shorter on and off-road circular


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routes, each under 20 miles to try – find these at www. islandbreaks.co.uk. And then there’s Easy, Peasy Pedalling, Wightlink’s free guide featuring six scenic bike rides. From this, the Greens can take the seven mile hilly trail around Wootton’s Woodland in the north of the Island – definitely one for the energetic! Families will find the traffic-free NewtownSandown cycleway, an easy ride, just eight miles each way. And Grubs can rise to the occasion by taking the easiest, shortest route of all along the flat cycle track along the Western Yar estuary. Serious about cycling: Isle of Wight Bag Tag offers a baggage transfer service

anywhere on the Island with collection available from Wightlink’s terminals (www. bagtagiow.co.uk). Watch out for: the Isle of Wight Cycling Festival in September. This nine day event offers a bike route for everyone, expert or enthusiast (www. sunseaandcycling.com).

New green activities

Brilliant for Brown families, Llama trekking across West Wight is the latest fresh air pursuit to hit the Isle of Wight. Hardly an extreme sport, there’s a choice of 1-3½ hour treks along the chalk downs, all taken

at a casual walking pace and offering some of the Island’s best views (www. llamatreks.co.uk). More energetic by far are the exhilarating tree climbs offered by Goodleaf Tree Climbing Adventures for adults and children aged 8-14 (www.goodleaf.co.uk). Eco-warriors take note! Led by an arborist, novices start by climbing poplars and will soon find themselves swinging between oaks on private AONB land near Osborne House. If a safari is not the first thing that springs to mind on the Isle of Wight, think again. Shalfleet Manor Estuary Safaris (01983 531235) provides the perfect opportunity for enthusiastic Green types to take a close look at the bird and plant life of Newtown Estuary – from the comfort of a safari boat.


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Green gourmet Almost two thirds of the people who took part in Wightlink’s How Green are the British? survey prefer to buy fresh local produce – so that’s the focus on these pages. Not only is the Isle of Wight famous for its cherry tomatoes and prolific production of garlic, but there’s also organic fruit and vegetables, free range meat and unusual specialities to satisfy everyone from food conscious eco-warriors to fast food-loving Grubs. Straight from the producer

Fresh food enthusiasts should check out the weekly Isle of Wight Farmers Market, held every Friday in St Thomas’ Square, Newport from 9am-3pm. All the produce sold is grown, reared, caught, brewed, pickled, baked, smoked or processed by the stallholders so it comes with a really

personal touch. Alongside the food and drink produce, you can also buy locallygrown plants and herbs, honey and beeswax candles. Local, seasonal and fresh produce direct from Isle of Wight farmers is available daily at Farmer Jack’s farm shop (www.farmerjacks. co.uk). Located at Arreton Barns in the Arreton Valley, the shop was set up in 2005 to provide the freshest,

vitamin-filled foods by a trio of Island vegetable, pork and dairy farmers. Since then it has expanded dramatically and now offers a wide range of produce. Look out for local chutneys and honey, fresh lamb, pork and bacon, clotted cream and handcrafted cakes. For people on a self-catering break, there’s a useful fast food menu and a hamper service too.


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Take the Taste of Wight Trail

You can eat your way around the Isle of Wight with the help of The Food Trail. Available free from Wightlink, this gastronomic tour features local produce from 24 contrasting Island producers, ranging from gourmet foods to local wines, from home made jams and mustards to the exotic ice creams at Minghellas. You’ll find entries covering organic and free range farmers too.

Green eating out

Local produce features on the menus of several Wight cafés and restaurants.

One of the best is Afton Park’s Apple Tree Café, (www.aftonpark.co.uk) where organic fruit, herbs and vegetables grown in its grounds go into meals made freshly every day. Other ingredients, like Calbourne Water Mill’s stoneground flour, are sourced locally, wherever possible, and the café even offers Fairtrade coffee to support growers in other countries. In addition to serving apple juice from apples grown in their own orchards, there’s a range of Apple Tree Café pickles, chutneys, relishes, jams and jellies. Find out more about

green places to eat out at www.greenislandtourism. org/food.

Apple days

On a September weekend each year, Afton Park stages the first apple festival in the UK. Mild conditions mean that Wight apples ripen earlier and visitors to the festival can help with the harvesting, taste freshly pressed apple juice and dine on apple and parsnip soup or freshly baked apple cake from The Apple Tree Café. Find out more: www.appledays.co.uk


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www.wightlink.co.uk 0870 582 7744 (from overseas: 00 44 23 9285 5230)

Text Š Chris Higham 2006 Designed by Trent Design Illustrations by Alan Rowe Published by Wightlink 2006 Š Wightlink Ltd 2006 All information correct at the time of going to print (May 2006)

Printed on paper made from a managed, sustainable source.

Wighter shade of green  

The Wightlink guide to "Going Green" on a breakwaway to the Isle of Wight

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