Browndown North is an active military training area and is used extensively from orienteering to bivvy making through to section attacks. The area is used by all three services, Army, Royal Navy and RAF and is a ‘go-to’ area for cadet training. The MOD welcomes responsible use of the area, but please remember that it is a military training area and access may be restricted when there is training taking place.
Please do not enter the area if red flags or notices are displayed or where the gates are locked, this is for you safety. Public access is permitted under the Browndown and Rowner Military Lands Byelaw 1954, full copies are displayed on site.
There may be areas where the terrain is unsuitable for certain types of access due to steps, uneven terrain or mud so please use with caution..
Starting at the car park at the point that it curves, take the path heading west, until the path bends to the left and you can spot the bridge ‘Apple Dumpling’ when you should turn right. Continue up hill slightly until you reach a path on the right. Take this and spot the ‘hill’ which is actually the Motte and Bailey castle. Circle around the base and spot the pillbox too.
Continue along the path once you have completed a circuit of the Motte and Bailey, bearing east, and continue into Carters Copse. Look out for the large oak tree in ‘Hangman’s Hollow’.
At the far end of the copse you can either continue over the boardwalk, or if flooded, take the path slightly higher up and then continue along the uphill path (there is an upper or lower path but both join up so either can be taken). As the path heads south and then west, the unsurfaced path exits on to a tarmac path.
Turn right on to the path and walk back alongside the car park, continuing until you join up with the path you took from the car park and then continue. Where you turned right, you should turn left to Apple Dumpling Bridge.
Walk over the bridge and head up the wide path which goes uphill and bears right. Just as the path comes out of the shaded area into more of an open space, you will see a path to your left accessed through a gate. This is the entrance to Browndown North and there will be signs visible. Do not enter if the red flag is flying, the gates are locked or notices are posted.
Enter Browndown North and follow the path straight ahead, continuing through the trees. When you come to the T-junction turn left and then bear left. Just past the larger tree on the left, before it clears you will see some trenches.
Continue along the path heading west until you meet a cross road of paths. Turn left here but directly opposite this junction within the trees, there are some possible trenches which can be explored.
Once you have turned left, so that you are heading roughly north, continue along the path looking for a mound on your left. Depending on the time of year it may be covered in bracken but from here if you stand on it, take in the views to the west of the trenches.
Continue north along the path until you come to another significant path. Bear left here and then continue straight over when you come across other paths. If you spot the ‘two-eyed tree’ you are on the correct path. Bear right on to the next main path and return back to the gate you came in, exiting into Alver Valley Country Park.
Turn right and retrace your steps back to Apple Dumpling Bridge. Once over the bridge you can either return back to the car park, or bear left up towards the Motte and Bailey but instead of turning right continue north along the path. At the end here you will reach a road (Little Woodham Lane) which if you turn left on to will lead you to Grange Farm, the Wildgrounds (seasonal permit entry only), Little Woodham 17th Century Village (seasonal) and a garden centre (under construction). Retrace your steps back to the car park.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Points of interest …
Motte and Bailey castles were medieval fortifications introduced by the Normans. They constructed large mounds of earth or stone (motte) surrounded by an embanked enclosure (bailey). A wooden structure was usually found on top, commanding great views over the lower ground and part of the fort’s defences. Only the earthwork remains of the Motte and Bailey castle are here; the structure has gone, but it is the earliest identifiable fort in Gosport and would have almost certainly defended the crossing of the River Alver. It is now protected as a scheduled ancient monument and is protected by Historic England.
Look also for the pillbox at the base of the mound. A pillbox is a type of blockhouse with loopholes through which to fire weapons.This one was part of the Holbrook and Rowner Stop line built during the 2nd World War.
POI coordinates: 50.7976065982012, -1.1722167056696307
Carters Copse is an area of woodland named after the Reverand Richard Foster Carter who was the rector of St Mary’s Church in Rowner for nearly forty years. He was also part of the influential Foster-Carters who were considerable landowners including Foster Gardens. It was then owned by the MOD before coming in to Borough Council ownership in 1971.
Legend has it that ‘Rabbit Skin Jack’, a notorious poacher, haunts the Copse after apparently hanging himself from the large oak tree in ‘Hangmans Hollow’ with his bootlaces, rather than face justice for his crimes.
POI coordinates: 50.79803026944147, -1.1705143362865855
The Carters Copse woodland consists of ancient oaks and alder, with reedbeds, scrub and grassland glades as well as a pond. There is an abundance of wildlife, and if you listen carefully you might hear woodpeckers, Great and Blue Tits, Robins, Warblers and Goldcrests and spot the beautiful butterflies, dragonflies, and if you are lucky a water vole, reintroduced to the Alver Valley in 2010.
It is a peaceful place to walk around and enjoy, despite how close it is to roads and areas of population.
POI coordinates: 50.79724054775865, -1.1685358860324249
Apple Dumpling Bridge is a well-known and loved crossing point of the Alver River. But, it’s origins are much more significant. Apple Dumpling Bridge was a strategic and historical crossing point used by the nearby Motte and Bailey. The present bridge was built in the 1940s and was constructed to withstand heavy vehicular use.
It is now a popular spot to feed the ducks and moorhens, and to take in the lovely views along the river and reedbeds.
POI coordinates: 50.796918540759094, -1.1735652396148166
Browndown North is an extensive heathland and an active military training area and caution should be exercised at all times when on site. Access is prohibited when the red flags are displayed, by notice or when the gates are locked. Please do not pick up any objects, keep your dog under effective close control and pick up after it. No fires are allowed and please take you litter home. Any issues whilst on the land, please call the MOD on 01420 483405.
POI coordinates: 50.796900059654995, -1.1761962919019928
Browndown North is the site of an extensive World War One practice trench system consisting of two sets of opposing trench systems, with a no-man’s land between them. Each practice trench system had a 200m long front line, supply trenches and dugouts and the whole area is about the size of 17 football pitches. Work is ongoing by the Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) to carry out further archaeological survey work to rediscover more of this extensive system, and encourage understanding of how the site was used.
POI coordinates: 50.79385754129167, -1.1747522938062755
It is hoped that the work carried out by the HAZ will be able to understand the trench network further, and discover more about the Browndown Ranges, which were used extensively during World War One to train troops in trench warfare.
POI coordinates: 50.79384046067319, -1.1729972282128396
The best time of year to spot the trenches is in winter in January/February when the heathland is not in full bloom.
The system of trenches here is being considered by Historic England’s Listing Team to potentially be given national designation as one of the best preserved and significant practice trench networks in the country.
POI coordinates: 50.79445757331443, -1.1739112420487614
The Alver Valley is part-owned by Gosport Borough Council and the MOD and extends for 200 acres. The area has had an interesting past- originally covered in woodland, remnants of which are found in Browndown and The Wildgrounds, and then being used for agriculture. The River Alver, from which the country parks name originates, drains land from Peel Common and enters the sea near the Diving Museum at Stokes Bay.
The valley consists of peat and gravel deposits, which meant that many gravel pits were created as the gravel was extracted. More recently, during the 1970’s the area was used to bury refuse. The land now has become home to a range of flora and fauna.
POI coordinates: 50.79582006719775, -1.1751962733490158
The Wildgrounds is a 28 hectare Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSI). It is also a Local Nature Reserve and is owned and managed by the Borough Council, and has been since 1978. The reserve is accessed by permit only and is usually open March-October. The area includes ancient oak, heath, meadow and fenland, and is host to a wide range of habitats and animals.
The Little Woodham Living History Village is a living museum dedicated to recreating life in a 17th Century rural village. Here you can immerse yourself in the everyday lives, stories and crafts of the 17th Century. Open Easter for selected weekends over the Spring/Summer.
A new garden centre is due to open in 2022 near to Grange Farm- a 1,000 acre farm where now only the farmhouse remains.
POI coordinates: 50.79944929266952, -1.1727121837466765