Nansen Hill is at the eastern end of the Ventnor Downs, between Bonchurch and Luccombe. It is on the west side of the A3055 Shanklin to Ventnor road.
Nansen Hill as a place for recreation goes back to 31st December 1932. Mr John Howard Whitehouse, the Warden of Bembridge School, conveyed the central part of the hill to four distinguished men – the Prime Minister of Britain (Ramsey McDonald), the Prime Minister of Norway, the Rector of Oslo University and a Mr Neil Rocke from London.
The moment Mr Whitehouse handed over the deeds of Nansen Hill to Lord Cecil on 31 December 1932. The present-day road to Cowlease is visible in the background.
A trust was established enabling the land (held by these persons as trustees) to be used for “the result of recreation of adults, children and in particular the youth of England and Norway” in memory of Dr Fridtjof Nansen who had promoted “peace and friendship” between the nations.”
Later, in 1963, the land adjacent to the road was added when it was conveyed to the County Council by the Education Trust Ltd. It is now managed by Gift to Nature and anyone is welcome to visit the site, particularly the youth of England and Norway!
How to get there
On foot/By bike – Footpaths V109 and V123 cross the site and link it to the adjoining Bonchurch Down. Cycle access is via the main A3055 road.
By bus -Bonchurch Car Park Stop (Route 3) is right outside the entrance gate (Bus Timetables)
By Car – There is a council car park (Smuggler’s Haven) opposite the site entrance. Approx site postcode for satnav PO38 1QD
Grass paths cross the site which, as the name suggests, is steeply sloping.
What to look out for
The site has chalk grassland, with the richest areas botanically being the middle and upper parts of the slope where the turf is shorter.
Characteristic plants occurring throughout include yellow-wort, glaucous sedge, dwarf thistle, eyebright, hoary plantain, and salad burnet.
There is a good population of autumn gentian in most years at the top of the slope. Devil’s-bit scabious is also found towards the north of this area. On the terracettes on the north-facing slope at the top, there is a population of common spotted orchids. It is part of the Ventnor Downs Site of Special Scientific Interest.
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