06 Aug Top spots for summer walks in Hampshire
There’s nothing quite like British summertime – when the weather’s good, of course. When the sun’s out and it’s lovely and warm, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than the Hampshire countryside.
I hope you like my suggestions for summer walks around the county. They’re perfect for weekend strolls or longer rambles while on holiday in Hampshire. I’ve added a link to each place, where you can find more information and maps. Happy walking!
North Hampshire: Yateley Common, near Farnborough
In summer, the heathlands come into full bloom with purple heathers and yellow dwarf gorse. At this time of year, it will be buzzing with insects – take a walk around the ponds if you want to spot dragonflies. The variety of habitats on Yateley Common Country Park make it ideal for a huge range of wildlife. It’s also an important spot for breeding birds, like nightjars, Dartford warblers and stonechats. The heathland on the common is warm and sandy, making it an ideal home for reptiles, such as heath potter wasp, the viviparous lizard and adders. The common also supports many species of butterflies, like the silver studded blue and the grayling.
East Hampshire: Butser Hill National Nature Reserve, near Petersfield
Venture up the slopes of Butser Hill National Nature Reserve and discover an array of wildlife. Visit here for flowers in the chalk grassland, butterflies and a fantastic landscape. Keen-eyed spotters might find species of butterflies and moths like the Duke of Burgundy, Chalkhill Blue and Silver-Spotted Skipper. During the summer months, the reserve is alive with birdsong such as skylarks that sing as they display. There’s a car park at the top of the hill, so you can choose to leave the car here for a shorter, less challenging walk that offers splendid views from the summit.
West Hampshire: Martin Down National Nature Reserve, near Salisbury
Martin Down is 350 hectares of unspoiled chalk downland where flowers and insects flourish and rare birds sing. The grassland here is similar to Butser, although on a much bigger scale. The insects are attracted to the ancient sweeping grasslands with its many types of wildflower. Birdsong comes from cuckoos, yellowhammers, skylarks and even turtle doves. The landscape might not be dramatic – a gentle rising vista of open meadows, scrub and ancient hedges – but it feels ancient. The great Bokerly Ditch runs along one side, while mysterious mounds and dells hint that this was once a populated area in forgotten ages.
South Hampshire: Lepe Country Park, in the New Forest
The Lepe Loop is a five-mile waymarked circular walk that covers coast and country. It takes about two hours at a leisurely pace. The terrain is rough in parts so walking boots and sensible outdoor clothing are a must. Dogs are welcome in the country park – but not on the beach between April and September, when there’s an alternative route along the coast. Lepe Point nature reserve is the perfect spot to enjoy the coastal views. The meadows and woodlands are protected habitats for wildlife and well worth visiting. Head to the pond for dragonflies and damselflies, pop into the hide for a spot of bird watching and traverse the boardwalk for all the other wildlife this wonderful location has to offer.
Hampshire is a big county and has many hidden gems to explore. Why not share your summer walk ideas on our Hampshire Countryside Facebook page?
Love Carly x