America Wood, owned by The Woodland Trust, is a quiet nature reserve near to the old railway line west of Shanklin.
The footpath and bridleway through the wood has long been a challenging route for walkers and riders, with muddy areas even in dry weather. Now, with support from the Isle of Wight Ramblers Association and the Isle of Wight Bridleways Group, a programme of repairs and improvements has made the route much more easily accessible to all.
Rights of way manager Darrel Clarke explained:
“America Wood is one of the most protected wildlife sites in the country, and access down this steep-sided valley is difficult for materials and machinery.
“We had to be careful we didn’t cause damage to the delicate woodland floor – this area is famous for bluebells in the spring and those are very sensitive to disturbance.
“We worked on about 175m of path in total, over nine different areas, making raised gravel paths with drainage that should mean that the route can be walked or ridden in most weather conditions.”
Councillor Jonathan Bacon added:
“The remarkable thing about this scheme is the number of different organisations involved, and the support we have had from so many people to make this happen.
“It shows what a complex job it is to keep our countryside in good order, and I’m grateful to all the partners, and the Rights of Way team.
“In particular the Isle of Wight Bridleways Group and the Isle of Wight Ramblers Association deserve thanks for helping to fund the works, as do Taylor and Taylor Groundworks who did such a careful job in this delicate and sensitive location.
“This council is clear on the importance of looking after the countryside and wildlife that is in our care, and that does include making sure that there is safe and appropriate access to it.
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“I look forward to enjoying a stroll through America Wood, now we don’t have to put on a pair of wellies to do so!”