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Glorious walk in beautiful countryside - Old Winchester Hill

  • Author: Anne Cleaver
  • Published: 6th June 2020
  • Categories: Blog, Business, Clanfield

Glorious walk in beautiful countryside - Old Winchester Hill

Some eagle-eyed readers may recognise this article, published here in previous years. Old Winchester Hill, only 5 miles from Clanfield, is an ideal spot for a walk or a picnic in beautiful countryside with stunning views: in these challenging times it good to know there are places to visit, close to home. There is a free car park, but this is a popular destination, so avoid peak times on sunny days!

If you are planning days out for the family during the summer holidays, then you will want to add Old Winchester Hill to your list. This 150 acre National Nature Reserve is just 5 miles from the centre of Clanfield, free to visit and suitable for both a gentle stroll or an energetic scramble up and down the steep chalk slopes.

Old Winchester Hill has a long history from the Stone Age through to WW2. Most visitors aim for the Iron Age hill fort which has Bronze Age burial mounds within its ramparts – there you will be walking in our ancestor’s footsteps and you can wonder at how they lived and their thoughts as they looked out from the hillside.

The views, then and now, are simply spectacular: on a clear day you can see the coast and the Isle of Wight; across the valley you will spot Beacon Hill, with the remains of its own ancient settlement. Looking inland you might be able to recognise the trees beside Cheesefoot Head near Winchester and on the far horizon Beacon Hill near Newbury.

The natural history is just as breathtaking. Chalk grassland has more density of wildflowers than any other habitat and Old Winchester Hill is amongst the best in the South Downs. The thin downland soils and thousands of years of grazing by animals, has led to a wide range of chalk grassland flowers which carpet the grassy slopes throughout the summer. The plants in turn attract a host of insects and this hill is known to the a ‘hot-spot’ for the Chalkhill Blue amongst many other colourful butterflies. Look up as you might spot a buzzard, red kite or kestrel swaying in the wind about your head and watch and listen for summer migrants such as willow warblers, blackcaps, and swallows.

If you visit early in the morning or as dusk approaches you might see deer, badgers or a fox making an appearance. My favourite animal though is the Herdwick sheep; calm white faces and shaggy grey coats seem to be in tune with this ancient site.

We are lucky to live so close to such a beautiful part of the South Downs - put Old Winchester Hill on your list of places to visit.

Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints.



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