Golden Hill Country Park

Golden Hill Country Park

Golden Hill Country Park surrounds one of the Palmerston Follies that were built to protect the Solent from invasion. Built on high ground it was designed to defend and support the coastal batteries.  The Fort is now luxury flats and has pretty much disappeared from view. It is behind large gates and there is no interpretation to detail the military story that lies beyond.

We manage the 20ha of Golden Hill Country Park which surrounds the fort and was once part of the military estate, after World War I it was home to thousands of soldiers who were being demobbed.

Our challenge for 2019/20 is to enhance the site and introduce ways the public can understand its heritage and engage in its future.

We have been lucky enough to receive a substantial grant form the Heritage Lottery Fund to help us with this important project and this summer we will begin recording the military archaeology  with Ruth Waller a team of trained volunteers. Most of the remaining structures are now hidden under scrub that although is a brilliant habitat for wildlife can be better manage to help us understand the layout of the original fort and help the grassland flora.

We have already rescued the Copper Beech planted by Earl Mountbatten, from being outcompeted by more invasive species and cleared the way to reveal the stunning views looking across toward Fort Victoria and Fort Albert but this is juts the beginning of the works ahead of us

 

What will we be doing ?

The  new volunteer recruits  are going to rescue some of the structures from the scrub and research some of the people who were associated with the Fort. We already know Winnie the Pooh’s creator AA Milne was stationed here and who knows who else we might discover.

The site is crossed by an ancient right of way and they will find out how it fitted into the landscape.They will feed their newly found knowledge into the site’s on-and off-site interpretation.

We will be signing the site from the main road, and on arrival the car park will be far more enticing.

Our plan is to create 4 new walk suggestions

(1) Top Walk—which affords great views and the chance to nose down into the fort;

(2) Squirrel Walk—a short trail along the most likely places to spot the beast;

(3) Wildlife Walk—a long yomp around the park taking

in a variety of habitats and

(4) Viewpoint Walk—affording the most views and will be suitable for the elderly and infirm.

There will be  6 interpretation boards at the best viewpoints around the site to explain  about the fascinating military and natural heritage, the aspect of the site, as well the views beyond, and how the Fort fitted within the wider land and seascape. We will also have 10 heritage pillars in places where people could stop, look and / or listen for something special, maybe a white admiral or a boundary stone .

 

When the site technically lost the actual Fort into private ownership the surrounding area seemed to have lost some of its heart, its purpose.  In an attempt to create a new focal point we are commissioning a willow sculptor to create a new organic installation, echoing the fort but created for discovery and play. Made from natural willow and hazel and other cut material, the new fort will be a maze like structure with viewing spaces and even more interpretation of the amazing open land all around you.

 

Keep an eye out for works and surveys already in progress and sign up for our newsletter to be kept up to date on the progress.

 

 

How to get there

On foot/By bike – A bridleway runs north-south through the site, providing a connection with Freshwater Village (via Longhalves) to the south and Norton Green to the north.

By bus – School Green Road Stop (Routes 7/12) + 5 min walk. (Bus Timetables)

By Car – There is a gravel car park off Colwell Road, through the industrial estate. Use postcode PO40 9SJ for satnav.

Access

The main paths through the site are laid to gravel but some of the smaller paths can be steep and uneven in places. The main tracks are level and mostly well-drained. There is a gravel car park.

Isle of Wight County Press, 11 July 1970

Isle of Wight County Press, 11 July 1970

Get Involved

There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on conservation volunteers to help with many tasks and also need people who are happy to regular visit the site be our “eyes and ears”, this means we can respond much quicker to issues. Find out more here.

You can also help by becoming one of our regular supporters. Even giving a few pounds each month can make a real difference, with your donation being invested into site management and improvement work to benefit site visitors and look after our precious wildlife. Sign up here.