Sandown Community Orchard

We’ve been looking after this one since way back in 2003. This little site just off the busy cycletrack is a fantastic place to picnic, pond-dip or go scrumping.

This compact wetland site and orchard is a beautiful, tranquil spot but also a haven for wildlife. Gift to Nature has restored a community orchard on the site which you are welcome to visit and scrump in the autumn – we have included Isle of Wight fruit varieties including the Alverstone Apple. The orchard also provides a great nectar source for insects in the spring and food for other wildlife later in the year. The rest of the site is a mixture of wetland, woodland and a pond. There is a boardwalk across the wettest section of the site and a viewing/dipping platform by the pond.

Big Lottery Project, 2017-18

The good news is that thanks into National Lottery players, we’ve now got £8000 to spend on bringing this beautiful site into tip-top condition.  The site had become too wet to walk right through in winter. So we are putting in a boardwalk, new benches, a board telling the story of the site and improving the hedge. We want more people to use the Orchard, so we are holding events and showing how they can use the free fruit. We have even purchased an apple press!

We have already held a fruit tree pruning session and on May Day Bank Holiday – 7th May 2018 we will be holding a Mad Hatters Tea Party – please look at our events page. We are encouraging people to bring picnics and stay beyond the formal activities. The site is also on National Cycleway 23, so we are encouraging people to cycle along too! it’s a great place to stop for a break.

What’s in a name?

This site has had various names that are all quite similar: Sandown Wetland and Community Orchard, Sandown Wetlands, Sandown Wetland and Community Walk, and others. So in 2018 we took a survey to see what people wanted to call the site – including the opportunity to call it something completely different – the result was a clear vote in favour of Sandown Community Orchard. So that’s what it is now.

How to get there

On foot/By bike – The site is right on The Red Squirrel Trail (NCN 23) at Longwood Lane. You can walk into the site from the cycle track (through the carved arch) or from Longwood Lane.

By train – Sandown Station + 15 min walk.

By Car – Informal parking is possible on the verge opposite the site, please take care not to obstruct the road or any site entrances.

Access

In winter the wetland part of the site can become very wet and muddy, and at times is completely submerged. The orchard is on higher ground and can normally be accessed year-round. Paths through the site can be muddy, and there are steps on site.

What to look out for

Kingfishers are known to hunt along the waterways here, so look out for that emerald flash!

The pond is a haven for dragonflies and damselflies in the summer. If you stick your net in you may find sticklebacks, water scorpions, diving beetles and whirlygigs.

We now frequently see a squirrel when we visit, and when looking up in the trees see if you can spot the tree-creeper or a flock of long-tailed tits. Thank you David Moorse for these wonderful photos showing what to look for.

See the species list found at the All Along the Riverbank event on 1 May 2017.

Trains, Water and Sandy Thomas

A fantastic bunch of local people have helped us to piece together the history of this site. It makes a fascinating read, so if you would like to know more, please click here.

Managing the site

The pond and waterways need clearing occasionally. The picnic area is mown to keep it easy to use. We are trying to keep the orchard in good order, but any help with pruning the trees will be welcomed!

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 h