Shorwell, Forest and Downs

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Shorwell - Limerstone Down - Brighstone Forest - Bowcombe - Chillerton Down - Shorwell

From the renowned inn at picturesque Shorwell, follow Walkers Lane to a quick climb up past ancient archaeology and a geographical feature, past one of the most photogenic waymark posts on the island, to the highest point of this walk.

The path follows the edge of an escarpment formed from hard sandstone which dips down towards the chalk overlying it, a geological phenomenom which has sculpted virtually all of the island's downland scenery and most of its prominent features and archaeology. Here, prehistoric chalkpits and spoil tips bear witness to the importance of this area, not only as a source of flints for local use, but also for commercial trade and export.

The highest point of the walk is Limerstone Down at 199 metres. With its interesting stone direction plaque and sweeping views, it's a place to pause, refresh yourself and take in the views over the rolling patchwork of fields known locally as 'Back of the Wight'; south-east to the distinctive hump of St Catherine's Hill and The Pepper Pot above Blackgang; west to The Long Stone, Tennyson Down and the chalk of Highdown Cliffs and the Dorset coast beyond and north-east towards Carisbrooke Castle and the mainland beyond (including Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower) and the recognisable shape of Bembridge Down and the bright chalk of Culver Cliff.

After the panoramic coastal views, a different type of scenery comes next as you enter the quiet seclusion of Brighstone Forest. This mixed woodland was only planted between the wars and subsequently hid an area of open downland rich in ancient earthworks, Bronze Age burial mounds and field systems. It is now a haven for badgers, foxes, hares, rare species of bat as well as the island's native red squirrel.

A brief excursion through a wide valley with views towards Carisbrooke Castle leads back up to high downland, affording more views across the island and beyond, to Chillerton Down with its 230-metre high mast and another refreshment stop with sweeping views. As you descend from the mast between the high banks, look for the rare (but here, numerous) Chalkhill Blue butterflies on warm summer afternoons, accompanied by soaring skylarks.

Finally, back to the escarpment and scenic views along a roller-coaster walk leading back down to the village and the welcoming sight of the inn.

England - South England - Isle of Wight - Countryside

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Great Views, Hills or Fells, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, Wildlife
01/06/2009 - Richard Nash

I've very recently walked this route again, and found nothing to change my opinion of the instructions about how to go about it. Consult the map beforehand, calculate the distances involved, recognise given waymarks, and you'll not go wrong...

21/05/2009 - Roy Davenport

Walked April 2009. All OK but some distance between wayamrks. Take your time and study your OS map you will get there.

01/05/2009 - Walkingworld Administrator

This is a good walk but Roy is right - the waymarks are very well spaced out (only 7 in 15.5 kms) so you need to follow the Walkingworld OS map (or your GPS) closely on this walk.

24/04/2009 - Roy Davenport

Beware it can be a long distance between Waymark Points and therefore a bit confusing, you are looking for gates and woods long before you reach them RD

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