Afton Down

Dark Green Fritillary on Bramble

Dingy Skippers can be one of the most common butterflies on the down

Afton Down is a chalk down near the village of Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. Afton Down faces Compton Bay directly to the west, while Freshwater is approximately one mile north.

It was the site of the Isle of Wight Festival 1970, where the Guinness Book of Records estimates 600,000 to 700,000, and possibly 800,000 people, flocked to see the musical talents of Emerson, Lake & PalmerFreeThe WhoThe DoorsTen Years After and Jimi Hendrix.

 

In keeping with the native flora of Compton Bay, a variety of hardy plants grow on the down. Large European gorse bushes grow on the cliff, with the shelter they provide allowing other plants such as wild cabbage and bird's foot trefoil to thrive. Due to the strong prevailing wind from the English channel to the west, no large trees are able to grow on the down, allowing shrubs and grasses to thrive. The Isle of Wight's county flower, the pyramidal orchid, also grows here, along with Plantago lanceolata, the main food plant for the rare Glanville fritillary.

 

A car park is situated near the highest point of the Military road  route over the down, and allows for walkers to travel along a footpath downhill towards Freshwater Bay.

 

In the 17th century it was common for local people to descend the cliffs to collect seabirds and pick samphire. The birds were killed and plucked and their feathers sold, and the carcasses were sold to local fisherman to bait crab pots. The samphire was pickled and sent to London in barrels.

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On the downs are a group of 24 barrows comprising, a long barrow 34.7 m long, 0.9 m high and oriented east-west, 17 bowl barrows, 4 bell barrows and 2 disc barrows (One of which is where the golf course is located). One barrow has been the subject of archaeological interest, and is thought to be from the Bronze age The site was excavated in 1817 revealing nothing of significance in the long barrow, but several cremations in the round barrows 

 

 Adonis Blue female ab Semiceronus

 Six-spotted Burnet Moth mating

 Six spotted Burnet Moth caterpillar on Pyramidal Orchid

 Silver 'Y' Moth feeding on Bluebells

 Small Heaths Mating

Glanville Fritillaries mating

Hares can be seen running about the down in sunny mornings in the spring time.