St Catherine's Hill nature reserve

St Catherine's Hill Nature Reserve is perfect for a walk at any time of the year, there is always something different to see depending on what time of the year you visit. St Catherine's Hill is a little piece of paradise right on the doorstep of Winchester city.

St Catherine's Hill nature reserve is only a couple of miles south of Winchester and is not only a haven for wildlife and history but offers breathtaking views across the city from the top.

Being so close to the city, St Catherine's Hill is easy to get to with a park and ride bus taking you from the train station right to the foot of the hill. There is also a carpark there too if you decide to come by your own steam.

The steep chalk hill is immersed in history with the ramparts of an Iron Age hill fort still visibly cut into the rock. The outline of the fort can still be clearly seen circling the top of the hill.

There is also the mysterious "mismaze". It is one of only 8 historic turf mazes remaining in England. The maze dates from the 17th century with it's origins remaining clouded in mystery. Walking the maze is known locally as "tolling the labyrinth"

There is also an abundance of wildlife to spot on the hill. Throughout the year you might find a Shetland Sheep grazing nearby or during the summer there is a multitude of flowers and butterflies. 

Each square metre of grassland can contain up to 20 different flowers, look out for the gorgeous musk orchid, frog orchid and autumn ladies tresses. There are also 25 different butterflies to be seen. Most notably the Marbled White, Chalkhill Blue and Brown Argus.

Downland Restoration

The following notice will appear on the Reserve during winter 2022 to explain works being carried out.

"This winter we will remove scrub and bramble from this slope to recreate open grassland and small thickets of mixed trees. Mature trees on the edge of the reserve will remain. Restoring this varied habitat will support more wildlife typical of chalk grassland (downland), such as the chalkhill blue butterfly, green woodpecker and pyramidal orchid.

St Catherine’s Hill is a remnant of traditional downland, once widespread along the South Downs, but now rare. This restoration will increase the wildlife value of this special place."

More information visit Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust