Golden Hill Country Park
Welcome to Golden Hill Country Park extending to 20 hectares of mixed habitat public open space. The park was created in 1970 following military use from 1863 to 1962.
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 itself is now luxury flats and has pretty much disappeared from view.
Gift to Nature manages the Country Park which was once part of the military estate, after World War I it was home to thousands of soldiers who were being demobbed.
A substantial grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 2019, meant we could deliver an ambitious project to enhance the site and introduce new ways of helping the public understand its heritage and engage in its future. This work was completed in 2021.
Throughout the park you will find a series of lecterns and pillars where you can stop and look, or listen, for something special – maybe a white admiral butterfly or the remains of a military building nestling in the undergrowth.
There are three new trails to help explore – A Red Squirrel Walk, a View Point Walk and a longer Wildlife Walk that takes in the open grassland, the woodlands and ponds.
‘Golden Hill’ was not named after the colour of Common Gorse bushes that are found around the site, as many have claimed. Instead it is recorded in 1299 as ‘Gaul Down’ which means the ‘rented hill’.
We have 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.
The Golden Hill Golden Celebrations Project
In 2019 we secured a grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund for an ambitious project to discover the heritage of the site. As part of that project the military history was extensively researched and recorded, with the foundations of many the original world war one buildings revealed, new wildlife trails and heritage pillars were created, access was improved and interpretation installed across the site to help users connect with the history and local flora and fauna.
The Fort going into private ownership seemed to remove the heart of the site, so to return a much needed focal point, we commissioned 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 maze like structure with its supporting buttress like arms and viewing windows has brought the whole site to life again with all generations embracing this marvellous structure made from natural willow sourced form local Afton Marsh.
Please look at our sub-pages to find out more about the nature and heritage you can find at this site.
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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. There are cycle racks in the car park.
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.
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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.
There is a circular walk what is suitable for wheelchairs, scooters and buggies. This is sign-posted as the ‘Viewpoint Walk’. The Red Squirrel Walk has been tried by off-road mobility scooters but there is a narrow bridge which will make it inaccessible to some.
There are no nearby public toilets. The nearest toilets are in the village of Freshwater. You will also find plenty of refreshment opportunities there.
There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on volunteers to help with many tasks on our sites 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. Our shop raises money to support our work and needs a team of volunteers. Or maybe you would like to help us with events. 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.