Sibden Hill is part of Sibden Hill and Batts Copse Local Nature Reserve. It lies right in the heart of Shanklin, surrounded by housing on all sides. It provides an oasis in the middle of town for wildlife and people alike. The two parts of the Nature Reserve are linked by a public footpath. The present day vegetation includes woodland, scrub, bracken-dominated acid grassland and amenity grassland. This site has several viewpoints all with different but super views.
What to look and listen for …
The woodland is dominated by hazel on the eastern edge of the site with some garden escapes invading, including hydrangea and rhododendron. Moving west, the hazel becomes thinner and mixed woodland of oak, sycamore, hazel, elm, ash, beech and silver birch is found on the top of the hill with some hawthorn, blackthorn, rhododendron and gorse. There is elm scrub at the far west end of the site. The ground flora is dominated by bracken and bramble. There is some unimproved acid grassland almost completely covered by bracken, interspersed with areas of gorse, bramble and rhododendron. This bracken cover has an understorey of bluebell, sheep’s sorrel, greater stitchwort, rosebay willowherb and red campion. In clearer areas, honeysuckle, foxglove and sheep’s sorrel dominate the flora.
There was an old reservoir here and you can spot some associated infrastructure.
Resident birds include garden species such as blackcap, treecreeper and jay , and passage migrants such as goldcrest, siskin, linnet and mistle thrush may be seen and heard. And the seagulls can definitely be heard! If you here a high-pitched ‘cedar-cedar-cedar’ sound it could be a male goldfinch. The goldfinch is our smallest bird. A ‘chi-chi-chi’ and ‘tidit’ is the melodious linnet.
… and smell and touch
There is a lot of gorse around and in spring it has a coconut smell to attract pollinators. Honeysuckle appears in the more open areas and has a very sweet fragrance. Can you smell the bluebells? If so, they will be English ones.
Hug a tree or go on a leaf hunt! There are so many different types of tree here. Get a forager’s guide from the library and see what you can find: sheep’s sorrel, greater stitchwort and rosebay willowherb can all be used, but follow instructions and help yourself to fruits from the brambles, blackthorn and hawthorn, but please leave plenty for the wildlife.
Nature at home and activities on site
Songs Beneath the Trees is a collection of songs written specifically for Sibden Hill in Shanklin. Follow the trail and click on QR codes to hear five beautiful songs under the trees that inspired local musician, Paul Armfield, to create them. Or listen to them by clicking here.
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
The meadow is cut annually. There are some dead trees; we leave them because they are wonderful wildlife habitats. We have aliens too – rhododendron needs to be managed.
How to get there
On foot and by bike -Sibden Hill can be reached by footpaths and pavement from Chatsworth Avenue, Blythe Way and Silver Trees. It is linked by a footpath to Batts Copse. Footpaths SS14 and SS99 cross Sibden Hill. The Red Squirrel Trail (NCN 23) passes near the site and has an access track onto Carter Avenue.
By bus or train – Shanklin bus station (Routes 2/3/22/24) or Carter Avenue (22) which is a ten minute walk for Sibden Hill. Shanklin railway station. (Bus Timetables)
By car – There is no car parking on site, some on street parking can be found in surrounding streets, please park considerately. Try postcodes PO37 7NX, PO37 7NH and PO37 7NL.
Note there are a lot of entrances to this site so for full information please read the Site Access Statement.
what3words for site entrances
Chatsworth Avenue: ///producers.tensions.transcribes
Blythe Way: /// trouble.hood.inclines
Silver Trees: /// simmer.market.careful
The site is not suitable for motor scooters, wheelchairs, buggies or for people with accessibility difficulties. There are no made paths. In the wooded part of the site the paths are earth and can be narrow with tree roots protruding.
There is an Information Pillar at the entrance from Orchard Road. 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 public toilets are in Shanklin where you can find many refreshment opportunities.
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.