Fort Victoria Country Park
IntroductionFort Victoria Country Park is the Isle of Wight's largest and most popular country park, owned and managed by the Isle of Wight Council.
The Country Park has 22 hectares of woodland, with the Islands Costal Path following the old Military Road that once connected Fort Victoria with Fort Albert running though the park. Within easy walking distance of Yarmouth, the footpaths and walks through the park connect Yarmouth on the eastern side of the Yar Estuary with Totland in the west.
The Park has approximately 1km of beach, which is close to the Fort, car park and facilities. The sea wall and beach is popular with fishermen and visitors who enjoy watching the passing yachts and boats. The Country Park is an excellent place to watch the annual Round the Island Race. Swimming is not advised due to the fast-flowing currents.
The shore at Fort Victoria has a reputation as one of the Island’s best for beach-combing especially for fossils amongst the shingle with crocodile skin and turtle shell being regularly found. Sconce Point is popular amongst Island birdwatchers for its seabird passage in the spring and autumn.
With free parking, public conveniences and spectacular views across the Solent towards Hurst Castle and the New Forest National Park, the Country Park also has several attractions in the fort buildings including a marine aquarium, a planetarium, a café, the Underwater Archaeology Centre run by Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology and a model railroad layout display
The Country Park has a Ranger base that is manned all year. While the Rangers work around the site to look after the Fort, Park and Beach, they are on site to provide information and assistance. In the summer months, the rangers run educational visits for Island and Mainland Schools, with over 1,000 pupils enjoying a school visit to the Country Park every year.
The Country Park featured on the Good Dog Campaign’s list of the top 10 favourite dog walking spots in the UK in 2006. Dog walkers are attracted to the site by the sea views, parking and all-year-round opening. There are no restrictions on dogs in force on the beach at any time of year.