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Putting Pan Mill Meadows on the Map

11 Apr 2012

If you’re keen to get on your bike and try out the brand new shared path extension between Newport to Shide, don’t forget to stop and enjoy Pan Mill Meadows on your way through. Pan Mill Meadows is a small, magical parcel of riverside land just south of St George’s Bridge. When the land came under pressure for development several years ago, Island 2000 Trust stepped in to buy it on behalf of the Newport Rivers Group and with the help of Heritage Lottery funding. At the time of its purchase, this riverside wetland close to the centre of Newport had become in parts a litter-filled bramble patch.

**Image: Wild garlic at Pan Mill Meadows

The Newport Rivers Group, the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust and Green Gym volunteers worked together to turn the land back to riverside woodland, and wildflower meadow. Building on the vital work of the Wildlife Trust, the Newport Rivers Group through Island 2000 Trust’s conservation arm, Gift to Nature, continues to manage Pan Mill Meadows for its habitats and species as well as its water quality and its flood defence capacity.

Ian Boyd, Head of Environment at Natural Enterprise explains the importance of the area: “Sustaining biodiversity is a really important part of the project. We’ve coppiced parts of the woodland to let more light in and seen flowers such as wild garlic, bluebells and buttercups come up. In the meadow, yellow flag, water mint and meadowsweet have returned; there are woodpeckers, butterflies, dragonflies and if you’re very lucky you might just see a water vole along the river.”

Pan Mill Meadows has also benefited from a major restoration project aimed at bringing trout and eel back to this stretch of the Medina, work funded by the SITA Trust and managed by Natural Enterprise and the Environment Agency. Volunteers from the Natural Wight project, run by Spectrum Housing Group, have been a great help to the project and most recently joined Gift to Nature for a ‘Hedgerow Harvest’ planting – 125 fruiting hedge plants including gooseberry, black and redcurrant as well as damson, pear and apple trees along the paths and beside the meadow.

The new shared path through the meadow now completes the cycle link between Cowes and Sandown introducing Pan Mill Meadows to a whole new audience.

Claire Hector who runs the Newport Rivers Group at Natural Enterprise, sums it up: “Pan Mill Meadows is an amazing place once again. A green pocket of natural beauty bang in the middle of Newport. It is quite simply a fantastic example of the difference the work of local partnerships and volunteers can make. Next time whether you’re walking or cycling through, don’t forget to bring this checklist along and see what you can spot!”