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Selborne and Noar Hill

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Selborne and Noar Hill
Author: Claire, Published: 20 Nov 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walkstar1 Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walkstar1 Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walkstar1 Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walkstar1 Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walk
Hampshire, Selborne
Walk Type: Woodland
Selborne and Noar Hill
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walk boot Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walk boot Selborne and Noar Hill - Hampshire Walk
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-2 °C, Clear/sunny, Wind: 6 mph E
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A 5 mile circular walk from the village of Selborne in Hampshire, on the northern edge of the South Downs. The walk heads south through woodland and across paddocks to reach the Noar Hill Nature Reserve. Once the site of medieval chalk workings, today the reserve is a mixture of grassland and scrub which is filled with beautiful chalk downland flowers every spring and summer. After circling the hill’s woodland ridge, the return leg leads you through Selbourne Common, a woodland and wood pasture which is famous for its association with the eighteenth century naturalist, Gilbert White. The final stretch leads you down the famous zig-zag path constructed by the White Brothers, with outstanding views.

The walk has several steady climbs and descents throughout. It follows paths through a mixture of woodland, paddocks, chalk grassland and meadows. Some stretches can become very muddy after periods of rain and in winter so good boots are a must. You will need to negotiate several kissing gates, bridle gates plus four stiles (all of which have gaps suitable for most dogs). Whilst the walk does not cross any farm pastures, you will cross several horse paddocks and you may come across conservation cattle on Noar Hill or Selborne Common. Allow 2.5 hours.

Selborne is located on the B3006, about 4 miles south of Alton, and is easily accessed from either the A31 or the A3. The walk starts and finishes from the free village car park, located behind the Selborne Arms. Approximate post code GU34 3JR.

Walk Sections

Start to Stables
Start to Stables

Start point: 51.096 lat, -0.9417 long
End point: 51.0923 lat, -0.9406 long

Standing in the car park with your back to the vehicle entrance, fork left onto the path which passes just to the left of the toilet block. Once behind the toilet block, turn right to join the enclosed path with a fenced paddock on your left. You will come to a kissing gate ahead. Do NOT take this, (this is the path along which we will return later). Instead, turn left to continue on the enclosed path.

At the end of this enclosed path, pass down three stone steps to reach a T-junction with a narrow tarmac lane. Turn right and immediately take the left-hand branch at the fork, signed as the Hangers Way. As you pass a timber-clad house on your left, take the right-hand branch (the main stone driveway) which climbs to a wide gateway. Fork left to join the narrow footpath which runs along the left-hand edge of the driveway (with a wire fence on your right). This path leads you past a stable block and horse menage.

Stables to Lane Crossing
Stables to Lane Crossing

Start point: 51.0923 lat, -0.9406 long
End point: 51.0876 lat, -0.9469 long

Cross the low stile ahead to continue on the narrow path ahead, passing fenced paddocks on your right. Cross the next stile ahead to enter a horse paddock and keep ahead along the left-hand boundary. Continue to reach the far end – along the way you may need to pass through two lines of temporary electric fencing by unhooking the insulated handles of the lower rung and ducking under the upper string. Pass through the staggered barrier to reach the next meadow paddock.

Walk straight ahead along the left-hand boundary and exit via the V-shaped stile at the far side. Follow the wide grass track leading you past a house on your left and take a second V-shaped stile to enter the next horse paddock. Your exit from this field is in the corner diagonally left, but the public footpath requires you to walk along two of the field edges to get there, ahead and then to the left. As you reach the diagonal-left corner, exit via the stile (with dog gate) to reach a lane.

Lane Crossing to Bridleway Viewpoint
Lane Crossing to Bridleway Viewpoint

Start point: 51.0876 lat, -0.9469 long
End point: 51.0805 lat, -0.9376 long

Cross over the lane and take the small lane ahead, signed to Noar Hill. Continue past a property on your left and, just before you reach a house on your right, turn left past a vehicle barrier to join a bridleway track. Follow the track between hedgerows, beginning to climb. At the top of the first stretch of rise, turn right through a kissing gate to enter Noar Hill Nature Reserve. (You may come across conservation livestock grazing in this reserve).

The nature reserve covers 20 hectares and was once the site of medieval chalk workings. The many hollows where the chalk was removed now shape this landscape. The chalk is home to beautiful downland flowers that bloom every spring and summer, including juniper and orchids, attracting many butterflies.

(There are lots of paths in this reserve so remember to use the Live GPS Map to help guide you). Follow the reserve path leading you uphill. Ignore a gate across to your left and fork right just after this, to stay on the main path leading you through and up out of a small hollow. Keep straight ahead on the grass path and you will soon reach the start of a long oval hollow ahead. Looking ahead you will notice the path exit from this is very steep, so it is easier to climb the left-hand bank at this point and follow the left-hand rim of the hollow.

As you reach the end of the hollow, keep straight ahead on the fairly obvious wide grass path leading between hollows and scrub. Stay on the main grass path winding ahead and passing a section of coppiced woodland on your right. The path continues with a wire fence on your right and, where this ends, you will see a T-junction with a bridleway fingerpost ahead. There is a bench just on the right and it is worth detouring a few paces ahead to reach the fence, where there are far-reaching views.

Bridleway Viewpoint to Multiple Path Junction
Bridleway Viewpoint to Multiple Path Junction

Start point: 51.0805 lat, -0.9376 long
End point: 51.0779 lat, -0.9414 long

To continue the walk, turn left to join the bridleway. Pass through the gate ahead to exit the nature reserve and bear left to join the woodland path. Follow the path winding through the trees, to reach a T-junction with another bridleway (marked with a waymarker post of blue arrows). Turn right and follow this woodland bridleway winding ahead. We are now walking around the curved ridge of Noar Hill. The path bears steadily right and there are glimpses of views on your left in any foliage gaps.

At the end of the first long stretch you will reach a staggered T-junction. Turn right and follow the wider path climbing gently. At the end of this stretch you will reach two wooden fingerposts and a couple of waymarker posts marking a junction of multiple paths.

Multiple Path Junction to Lane Corner
Multiple Path Junction to Lane Corner

Start point: 51.0779 lat, -0.9414 long
End point: 51.0836 lat, -0.9525 long

Pass the first fingerpost on your left and, as you draw level with the second fingerpost, fork right to join the public footpath marked with a yellow arrow (passing immediately to the right of the post with the yellow arrow). This narrow footpath leads you through the trees, between a few holly bushes and emerges to the edge of grass meadow.

Turn right and follow the right-hand edge of the field. At the top of the rise, swing right to join the grass track with a crop field to your left and a hedgerow on your right. At the end of the field you will reach a tarmac access lane. Cross over and go straight ahead on the narrow path between hedgerows, signed as a bridleway. (NOTE: If this path is too overgrown to follow, you could follow a field edge path just to your left). At the end of the path you will emerge to the corner of a lane.

Lane Corner to Common Fingerposts
Lane Corner to Common Fingerposts

Start point: 51.0836 lat, -0.9525 long
End point: 51.0889 lat, -0.9601 long

NOTE: The next turning is easy to miss so be vigilant here. Walk ahead on the lane for only 15 or 20 paces and look for a hedge gap on your left (with a hidden ivy-covered fingerpost). Turn left through the hedge gap, bear right to reach the corner of a crop field and then turn left to follow the left-hand boundary. After just a few metres, the path bears right to cross this crop field diagonally. At the far side, pass through the hedge gap to reach the road.

Cross over with care and go ahead to join a tree-lined bridleway. After about 450 metres, pass through the gate ahead to enter the National Trust site of Selborne Common (you may come across conservation cattle grazing here). Go straight ahead on the main path climbing into the woodland common. Across to your left you will see the mansion called Longhope. You will come to a small grass clearing at a junction of paths, with a gate to your left and two wooden fingerposts.

Common Fingerposts to End
Common Fingerposts to End

Start point: 51.0889 lat, -0.9601 long
End point: 51.0962 lat, -0.9418 long

Ignore the first fingerpost and turn right at the second fingerpost. Follow this beautiful grass avenue leading you through the heart of the Selborne Common woodland. This woodland is rich with wildlife, including roe deer, buzzards and dormice. The common is internationally famous for its connection to Gilbert White, who would have regularly walked this avenue. As you walk, it is worth reflecting on White’s significant contribution to our understanding of nature...

Gilbert White (1720-1793) is recognised as being the first ecologist, a pioneering naturalist and ornithologist. Born in Selborne, he studied at Oxford and dedicated his life to the church and the study of nature. He was responsible for a number of major discoveries; he was the first to discover the harvest mouse in the UK, the first to recognise that swifts mate in mid-air and the first to recognise the value of studying bird migration. His scientific fame rests on his minute observation of all nature in his garden, on his walks and his rides in this countryside. He noticed, for example, that owls hoot in B flat. He acted as inspiration for many other naturalists that followed, including Charles Darwin.

The main green avenue leads you broadly ahead and then bears a little right as you approach another clearing. Now stay broadly ahead on the main avenue for a further half mile. At the far end, pass through a kissing gate ahead and follow the grass track downhill, passing a white house across to your right. Keep left at the fork, go down four steps and you will see a path leading down steps to your left. Before taking this, keep ahead to the bench to enjoy the views.

When you have finished, take the path leading you downhill. This path is known as the Zig Zag and was constructed by Gilbert White and his brother in 1753 to allow them easier access to the common. The path zigs and zags around 20 times as it descends this steep hanger slope. At the bottom, go through the kissing gate and go ahead to re-join the path from the outward leg. This path leads you back to the car park on your left where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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