Carisbrooke Castle - Limerstone Down Circular

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Starting with a view across to Carisbrooke Castle (dating back to pre-Roman times), the walk soon begins to climb steadily towards the downs between the banks of Dark Lane, an ancient shepherds' track. From the top of the lane, the view opens out and you see your first objective, the 230-metre tall mast set high on Chillerton Down. A steep climb offers superb views across rolling downland and patchwork fields, the north and east coast of the island and across to the mainland beyond, before an easy, high-level walk to the mast.

As you walk, your second objective can be seen in the distance - Limerstone Down. From the road, a sunken track laced with wildflowers and rare butterflies leads up to the 199-metre summit, with its direction plaque and spectacular panoramic views; a perfect picnic spot!

A change of scenery comes next as you enter the tranquil Brighstone Forest. This mixed woodland was planted between the wars to hide an area of open downland rich in ancient earthworks, Bronze Age burial mounds and field systems. It is now a haven for badgers, foxes and rare species of bat, along with the native red squirrel.

Follow the Tennyson Trail, an ancient highway along the backbone of the island as it gradually descends across Bowcombe Down back towards the finish, past bluebell woods, with views across to the Solent and Southampton Water to the north and chalk downs and cliffs to the east, before an excellent view of Carisbrooke Castle from the high track. This Norman structure, set high on a hill, was based on a Saxon fort that occupied the site during the 8th Century.

The original 'motte and bailey' castle was laid out in the 11th Century and the polygonal keep was added in the first half of the 12th Century, built on an artificial mound. About the same time, the stone curtain walls were built, with their square flanking towers at the south-east and south-west encompassing the bailey. On the western side of the curtain wall lies the twin-towered gatehouse, where it is still possible to see evidence of the portcullises. This imposing gatehouse, dating from the 14th and 15th Centuries, replaced an earlier gateway built during the time of the Redvers family, who ruled the island until 1293. Following the family's departure from Carisbrooke, the castle was bought by Edward I.

Two medieval wells still exist within Carisbrooke Castle: the keep houses the first well, which is some 160ft (48.5m) deep and is reached by 71 steps; and the second well is contained in a 16th Century wellhouse in the courtyard. This well has been in constant use since the 12th Century, following a failure in the first well; it is thought that prisoners were used to tread the water wheel. However, in the 17th Century, donkeys were introduced to drive the winding gear and they still give demonstrations today of how this fascinating piece of early engineering drew up the water.

England - South England - Isle of Wight - Countryside

Features

Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Castle, Flowers, Great Views, Hills or Fells, National Trust, Public Transport, Wildlife, Woodland
08/09/2017 - Claire Edwards

Beautiful route. I did this as a walk/run with the dog (Sep 17), very enjoyable.

10/07/2017 - John Branscombe

Did this walk on the 9th July 2017 a beautiful summers day Great walk Instructions very good It was a very hot day and you need to take all your provisions with you - lots of water No pubs, shops or cafes on walk Just one point starting point the sat nav takes you to a business park - The car park for the walk is a bit further up the hill All very enjoyable

26/02/2012 - Richard Nash

Walked today on a picture-perfect day. Apart from the oil prospecting vehicles in the Brighstone Forest, nothing of significance to add.

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