This walk is ideal for spotting red squirrels and although dormice also live in Borthwood Copse they keep well hidden. From late April into May the floor of this copse is carpeted with bluebells.
Start at Parish Council car park, off Alverstone Rd on Winford to Alverstone road, grid ref: SZ566843
Enter the wood and the path starts to descend and becomes very steep. This is a difficult climb (up and down) for anyone with mobility issues. It’s helpful to have a stick. You can often see squirrels in the tall trees to the side of this pathway.
At the bottom of this hill you are rewarded by a majestic cathedral-like clearing of beech trees with fallen logs ideal for people to sit on. Look up and you may see squirrels in the tops of these beech trees.
On entering the clearing, bear immediately left and take a rising path, the left-most of two paths that leave the clearing at the same point. Pass through a holly thicket on the way to the top where it begins to open out near the edge of the wood.
Then bear right to descend again just before some house gardens. Take the left at the next junction, following the line of the boundary of more gardens and soon the path broadens out in a clearing by an oak tree. Follow this track onwards and downwards, bearing right at a junction to meet an even wider crossing track 25yds (25m) further on.
Turn right and follow this main track almost to the edge of the wood, ignoring all side paths. Over its length, the path rises gently through a gully, then falls, and rises again.
Eventually a field is seen through the trees to the left. Just before a right bend (that leads to a stile 90yds (80 m) away and out of the wood), turn right along a narrow westerly path which follows the line of the edge of the wood. It rises gently, emerging shortly after another holly thicket close to a fence into a field on the left. Turn sharp right here and follow the path downwards, past yet more holly, to a crossing track.
Cross the track and continue ahead into the beech wood clearing. Bear left along the edge of the clearing and join up with the original path. Turn left back up the steep path to the car park.
Getting there: Borthwood Copse, Alverstone Road, Winford, Isle of Wight PO36 0LD
- By road: Take the Alverstone Road from Apse heath mini roundabout on the A3056 Newport/Sandown road. The parish car park is just after the Forest Road junction, before a sign for ‘Queen Bower’.
- By foot: The way-marked Yar River Trail and Nunwell Trail pass within a mile of Borthwood Copse at Alverstone (follow the road north east from route step 3).
- By Bus: Southern Vectis route No 8 from Newport to Ryde via Sandown, alight at ‘Winford Hairpin Bend’.
Walk devised by The National Trust