Guest writer Mark Fox continues with his series looking at different places of interest on the Island. This issue he looks at the walks around Firestone Copse.
Firestone Copse is a haven for wildlife. Sitting behind Kite Hill and running alongside the higher reaches of Wootton Creek the area is heavily forested and a haven for wildlife.
There are two main walks available. One is a circular walk of about a mile. This follows a decent open path that is suitable for people of all ages. The other walk is longer and diverts off the main path and takes you down beside the creek. Both are wonderful, both are great for families.
Starting in the car park, which is just off the Kite Hill to Havenstreet road, you pass through a wooded picnic area. In spring and summer it’s worth coming just for a picnic to this spot.
Following the path down to the left from the car park you walk gently down hill. Although not far from Wootton the walk feels completely isolated from traffic and town noise. Occasionally you can hear the whistle of the Steam Railway and that helps the feeling that somehow you have escaped to another time. Often you can see a Red Squirrel going about their business and there is always plenty of wildlife about.
In winter we tend to stick to the main pathway and set a brisk pace. But we know the season is turning when we choose to take the path down the hill towards the creek. It is quite a steep uneven path down, but great fun as you see the reeds and the creek open up before you. Sometimes there’s a mist or fog resting over the creek that gives a great sense of calm and isolation to the whole area. Although I am no expert, it is great fun to watch and listen to the different birds who live in this protected area. It is a similar experience to a visit to Newtown Creek.
Walking along the path by the creek it continues to be uneven so you have to watch your step. This part of the walk is about a half to two-thirds of a mile long. Then you reach the end of the creek side path and turn right and back up the hill to re-join the main pathway. Then it is all up a gentle incline for the rest of the walk back to the car park.
When it is wet you definitely need wellies or stout walking boots, even on the main path. Whatever the weather though this is a lovely simple and straightforward walk suitable for all at any time of the year.
When we were young my parents often took me, my sister and our dog, Rufus, on this walk. At the time I can remember we thought this was a huge great walk. In winter we would return home for tea, hot toast and jam. In summer it would be tea, scones and jam. Now my wife and I take our young children on the same walk – and encourage them to complete it with the prospect of the same treats.