Godshill to Appuldurcombe

Traverse unspoilt downland from Godshill to the ruins of a Palladian mansion




4.6 miles (7.4kms)

784ft (239m)

About the walk

With its village street lined with pretty thatched cottages, flower-filled gardens, wishing wells, souvenir shops and tea gardens, Godshill is the island’s tourist ‘honey-pot’. It is best explored out of season, when the coaches and crowds have gone, and its period buildings and magnificent church can be better appreciated. Godshill is also located in the heart of an unspoilt landscape and perfect walking country, making it a useful starting point for several exhilarating downland rambles.

Family Tie

The history of Godshill is closely tied to the Worsley family, builders of the Palladian-style mansion of Appuldurcombe in the neighbouring village of Wroxall. Several buildings in the village were built by owners of Appuldurcombe and their memorials can be seen in the church. Your walk quickly escapes Godshill and the throng of summer visitors, steadily climbing through woods and farmland to the top of Stenbury Down, where you can catch your breath and take in the far-reaching island views, from Tennyson Down in the west to Culver Cliff in the east. You quickly descend towards Wroxall to reach the magnificent ruins of Appuldurcombe House.

Cradled in a sheltered and secluded natural amphitheatre beneath high downland slopes, Appuldurcombe House began as a priory in 1100. It later became a convent and then the Leigh family home from 1498. The connection with the illustrious Worsleys began when the Leighs’ daughter Anne married Sir James Worsley, the richest man in Wight, who obtained a new lease. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Worsleys gained outright possession of the property, pulled down the old Tudor house and built a fine mansion with a pillared front at the end of the 18th century. They employed ‘Capability’ Brown to landscape the surroundings of the house. It was the grandest house on the island until Queen Victoria built Osborne House. It was sold in 1854 and became a school, the home of Benedictine monks, and a base for troops during World War I. Already damaged and decaying, it was finally reduced to a ruined shell in 1943, courtesy of a stray German landmine.

What you see today has been achieved by English Heritage and its predecessors, which since 1952 have repaired and restored the dramatic shell of the building, finally re-roofing and replacing windows in the Great Hall, Drawing Room and Dining Parlour in 1986. Visitors can wander through the eerily empty rooms, admire the splendid east front and stroll through the ornamental gardens and 11 acres (4.5ha) of grounds.

Walk directions

From the car park in Godshill, cross the road and walk down Hollow Lane beside The Griffin Inn. Just before Godshill Cherry Orchard, take the footpath left, signed to Beech Copse. Keep to the right of the pub garden, pass through two kissing gates and continue gently uphill through the valley to a kissing gate on the edge of Beech Copse.

Just beyond, at a fork, bear right uphill through trees, on steps and boardwalks, to a junction of paths by a gate. Turn right through the gate and walk towards Sainham Farm. Keep left of the farm to a gate and turn left uphill (Worsley Trail), signed to ‘Stenbury Down’. Climbing over the stile, climb this fenced track, passing through two large metal gates to enter a copse.

Leave the woods via a stile next to large metal gate. At a junction of paths below Gat Cliff, take the bridleway GL49 right through a large metal gate beside a fingerpost, signed ‘Stenbury Down’. Shortly, disregard the footpath right and keep to the bridleway ahead as it veers left and climbs to a gate. Skirting around the base of Gat Cliff and then Appuldurcombe Down, the path follows field edges before climbing steeply through two gates beside a stone wall to a gate and open grassland on the top of Stenbury Down.

Keep left beside the hedge to a gate and then the same in the next field, in a few paces, bear right along the metalled track towards a radio transmitter. Pass to the left of the building then, just before reaching a kissing gate and footpath on the right, turn left through a waymarked gate on a fenced path between fields. Head downhill, then bear left through a gate to descend steps leading to a metalled track.

Turn left and steeply descend to a T-junction. Turn left, then, where the lane curves right, keep ahead, on GL47 to pass Span Lodge (formerly a gatehouse to Appuldurcombe House) and a large barn to a gate. Keep ahead between fields to a stile. Keep to the left-hand field edge in front of Appuldurcombe House, alongside iron railings and then a stone wall, to a stile by the entrance to the house.

Take the metalled road to the left of the car park, signed GL47 Freemantle Gate. Walk along the drive to Appuldurcombe Farm, then, where it curves left, keep straight ahead through two gateways (with stiles to the left) and soon pass through Freemantle Gate on the edge of Godshill Park.

Proceed downhill towards Godshill Park Farm. Ignore paths right and left, pass in front of Godshill Park House and join the metalled drive that leads to the A3020. Cross over and turn left along the pavement back to the car park.

Additional information

Downland, woodland paths, tracks, metalled drive, 6 stiles

Farmland, woodland and open downland

Dogs must be kept on lead in places

OS Explorer OL29 Isle of Wight

Godshill, opposite The Griffin

Godshill, opposite The Griffin

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About the area

Discover Isle of Wight

There’s a timeless quality to the Isle of Wight. For many it embodies the spirit and atmosphere of English seaside holidays. Small and intimate – at just 23 miles by 13 miles – it’s a great place to get away from it all. And with its mild climate, long hours of sunshine and colourful architecture, it has something of a continental flavour.

Explore the island’s varied coastline at any time of the year using the well-established Coast Path. Even in the depths of winter, the weather conditions are often favourable for walking. The island has more than 500 miles of public rights of way in all. There are numerous other things to do too. You could plan a week’s itinerary and not set foot on the beach. The island’s history is fascinating and it was long considered as a convenient stepping stone for the French in their plan to invade the UK mainland. Various fortifications – including Fort Victoria, Carisbrooke Castle and Yarmouth Castle – reflect its key strategic role in the defence of our coastline.

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