Historically Casle Copse was part of a more open ‘Parkland’ landscape and has a small number of veteran trees. These are now surrounded by mature secondary woodland. A hazel understory was planted to provide cover and a food source for red squirrels. Sadly, they disappeared as the housing encroached all around. However, Castle Copse is still a haven for lots of other wildlife.
The large veteran trees on site are of significant ecological and historical landscape significance in themselves. Bramble and adjacent scrubby vegetation provide good protection for the trees and contributes to an open glade effect. A large number of the site’s important ecological features and protected species rely on the veteran Oaks and use the scrub as shelter. There is a circular path through the woodland.
What to look and listen for …
The woodland is a haven for wildlife and home to rare bats, foxes, slow worms and many butterflies, birds and flowers. Over 616 species of invertebrates have also been found there! Castle Copse is made up of a variety of tree species, some are still quite young and will be given room to grow and mature but there are in amongst them some wonderful old veteran oaks full of nooks and crannies and draped in ivy. These are important landmarks and exceptional habitats. See if you can find Ivy Broomrape – it’s got spikes of creamy / reddish flowers and is a parasitic plant; it can’t exist without ivy. Don’t forget to look out for the sculpture of two foxes and see if you can find our owl!
Blue tits and great tits will flit amongst the trees, and blackbirds will flit among the ground ivy too. You may hear the high-pitched ‘zee’ of goldcrests – they are Britain’s smallest birds, and Chiffchaffs have a distinctive ‘chiff-chaff’ song. Also listen to the wind in the trees and leaves underfoot, and the sounds of East Cowes including Red Funnel Ferry announcements and squabbling seagulls.
… and smell and touch
We have planted a few fruit trees around the site and the blackberries also have a sweet smell. Less pleasant is stinking iris, also known as roast beef plant.
The variety of trees here have different barks and feel quite different, especially the old fallen oaks. Please help yourself to edible berries but leave a few for the birds. The holly and the ivy, and conifers and bay are good for Christmas wreaths.
Nature at home and activities on site
We have produced a super Colouring Sheet for you to download and complete at home. We have also produced an I Spy Sheet and Map for you to print at home, or download to your phone and take to the site. And become a Bug Bunch Ranger. All these activities and resources can be found here.
Managing the site
With the help of the Homes and Communities Agency, Barratt Homes, and local organizations Castle Copse was reopened in June 2014 with improved paths, access, new seats and fantastic sculptures. We have a management plan in place for the trees.
How to get there
On foot and by bike – There are four points of access to the site; via Sylvan Avenue, Black Knight Close and two entrances from Consort Gardens. There are two cycle racks in the lower part of the site, close to the Black Knight Close entrance.
By bus – Well Road Stop (by Waitrose) (Routes 4/5) + 5 min walk. (Bus Timetables)
By car – There is a council pay and display car park in Maresfield Road. Or on road parking in Sylvan Avenue – PO32 6PT for your sat nav.
On this site paths are unmade and can be wet throughout the year. Much of the woodland is accessible with care by most people on foot but the Sylvan Avenue entrance is unsuitable for people with mobility scooters or mobility difficulties. For people with mobility difficulties, we recommend the Black Knight Close entrance. Black Knight Close is accessed from Church Path. Please make sure you follow the directions on the on-road signs and park in the marked bays, otherwise you will be fined. Mobility Scooters may access through Consort Gardens, and most will be able to use the main path in the lower part of the site.
There are no gates or stiles within the site. There are four seats – three are made from logs, and one is a bench with a back.
There is a Information Pillar at the Sylvan Avenue entrance. The site information pillar has a QR code that links to an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. The information pillar also has a QR code that links to a map and activities. There is also a site map on the Information Pillar.
There are no toilets on site. The nearest toilets are in Waitrose, if during opening hours what3words ///flush.generally.massaged which is about ten minutes flattish walk away. There are public toilets in East Cowes. There are catering facilities in the Town Centre, less than 10 minutes’ walk.
We have written an Access Statement for this site. This includes mobility and sensory issues and opportunities. We welcome feedback from users.
We have produced an audible description creating a mind’s eye view of the area to allow a visually impaired person to enter with confidence. It will describe the entrance, the size of the area, where to find further information or help and any major obstacles or features. Information has been produced by visually impaired people ensuring it is useful and accurate. Access the description by scanning the QR code to the left of this text on your phone or tablet, or by clicking here.
There are various ways you can help improve and maintain our sites. We rely on volunteers to help with many tasks on our sites 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. Our shop raises money to support our work and needs a team of volunteers. Or maybe you would like to help us with events. 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 here.