If you have ever driven on the A3 you have more than likely spotted the huge hill opposite Queen Elizabeth Country Park. This is Butser Hill and it is a popular walk/hike and bike ride destination in Hampshire. I remember going up there as a child with my Mum and last year I decided to take to the hill with my own children to take in the wonderful sites from the top. Here’s what it is like to hike up Butser Hill with kids…
About Butser Hill
Butser Hill is a 239.7-hectare biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest southwest of Petersfield in Hampshire. This huge nature reserve is a wonderful place to hike and explore, to observe wildlife and look across the Hampshire countryside – on a clear day you may even be able to see the sea! It is one of the highest points in the county and makes up part of the South Downs. The name Butser comes from the Old English Bryttes Oran meaning Briht’s slope. Oran or Ora is Old English for flat-topped hill and/or steep slope.
There is parking found at Queen Elizabeth Country Park which will also give you access to toilets and a cafe. The hill is located just through the underpass. You do have to pay for this car park. If you don’t want to pay, there is an area where you can park up just off the A3 for free but if you have kids and dogs this may not be the safest option.
Things to Consider Before Setting Off
I would most definitely recommend that you:
- Use the toilet beforehand (there are no toilets on this reserve)
- Take plenty of water
- Wear appropriate footwear such as walking boots
- Wear base layers if you are hiking in the colder months
- Wear layers
- Take snacks
- Take dog poo bags
- Take water for your dog, especially in the summer
- Take a lead as there may be livestock in the fields
- Take a picnic and blanket if required
Hiking Butser Hill
I went with the word hiking over climbing because even though it IS one of the highest points in Hampshire, there isn’t really climbing involved. The hill has a nice incline which means you can walk the whole way and there aren’t any rocks or steps or obstacles to overcome – not like some of the ones we tackled in The Lake District. This makes a good hill for families to enjoy together.
The hill nicely circles around which means you can walk it either clockwise or anti-clockwise and end up back at the base of the A3 where you started. As it is a nature reserve and surrounded by fields, underfoot is all grass with no main footpaths. It definitely gets your blood pumping and can take your breath away but it’s not a big assertion on the body and our kids (then aged 4 and 8) managed the hike perfectly ok.
You could always choose to take a ball or frisbee to play on the way up or at the top to make the walk more interesting to them.
Once at the top, the views are brilliant and there is plenty of space to sit, have a picnic, run about and play games.
And of course, coming down is far easier and a lot more fun!
It’s a really nice day out for a range of ages and other than the parking it is free to access which is always a plus in our books.
If you want to explore more of this area there is also Butser Ancient Farm down the road which is a wonderful place to learn about different ages, their ways of life, seeing how they lived and so on. It’s a visit you’ll definitely remember.
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