Corporate report

Hampshire's National Nature Reserves

Published

Ashford Hangers

Ashford Hangers NNR is a part of the mainly wooded escarpment where the Hampshire chalk plateau meets the lower Weald.

Main habitats: woodland, lowland grassland

Area: 147 hectares

Management: owned and managed by Hampshire County Council

Features of interest

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Ashford Hangers page of the Hampshire County Council website.

Ashford Hill

Ashford Hill NNR consists of a series of low-lying meadows in the valley of a small stream.

Main habitats: lowland grassland

Area: 23 hectares

Features of interest

The meadows have been traditionally managed by grazing and hay-cutting with little, or no, use of fertilisers.

Water violet and marsh stitchwort can be found in the permanently waterlogged areas of site, while drier sections support populations of Dyer’s greenweed and large thyme.

Anthills created by the yellow meadow ant can be seen in drier areas of the reserve. 32 species of butterfly have been recorded at the site, including the purple emperor and 5 species of fritillary.

Directions

The NNR is adjacent to the village of Ashford Hill on the B3051, mid-way between the towns of Kingsclere (on the A339) and Tadley (on the A340). The site is accessed via a footpath from the B3051.

The nearest train stations are at Newbury, 10 kilometres to the north west and Basingstoke, 10 kilometres to the south east.

The B3051 connects Kingsclere and Tadley and a local bus service on this road passes the NNR.

The reserve can be visited at any time of the year; however, it often floods so access can be difficult in wet weather.

Contact

For further information regarding this site contact the NNR enquiry line on 0300 060 6000.

Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill NNR is a prominent chalk hill at the western end of the South Downs National Park.

Main habitats: chalk downland, woodland, scrub

Area: 40 hectares

Features of interest

Beacon Hill National Nature Reserve is a prominent chalk hill at the western end of the South Downs of southern England.

Classic chalk grassland plants can be found throughout the spring and summer, such as wild thyme, squinancywort, clustered bellflower, common rock rose, horseshoe vetch and restharrow. Less common species such as round headed rampion and field fleawort are also present.

Beacon Hill is an excellent place for spotting butterflies such as the chalk hill blue, silver spotted skipper, brown argus and grizzled skipper.

The reserve is a good place to encounter many of the declining farmland bird species such as linnet and yellowhammer. Raptors such as the red kite, buzzard and kestrel can be seen, as well as summer migrants like whitethroats, willow warblers and blackcaps.

Directions

Beacon Hill is situated mid-way between Winchester and Petersfield, 2 miles west of the A32 at Warnford. There is a small car park at the entrance to the reserve. From there, visitors can walk on a flat track for half a mile to the downland. Once on the downland, the going can be very steep and uneven.

By train

The nearest railway stations are at Winchester and Petersfield.

By bus

A bus service runs several times a day between Winchester and Petersfield, stopping at West Meon, about 3 miles from the reserve. See Traveline for details.

By car

The reserve is located 2 miles west of the A32 at the village of Warnford. There is a car park at the entrance to the nature reserve.

On foot and bike

The South Downs Way National Trail crosses the reserve, and is open to walkers, cyclists and horseriders.

School and community groups

The site is open every day of the year and available for self-guided and guided walks. There are no toilet facilities on site.

Volunteering

Contact volunteerenquiries@naturalengland.org.uk if you are interested in volunteering at Beacon Hill NNR.

Contact

For further information regarding this site contact the NNR enquiry line on 0300 060 6000.

Butser Hill

Butser Hill NNR is a large area of chalk grassland in Hampshire.

Main habitats: woodland, lowland grassland

Area: 231 hectares

Management: Butser Hill lies within the Queen Elizabeth Country Park and is run by Hampshire County Council.

Features of interest

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Queen Elizabeth Country Park page on the Hampshire website.

Contact

Email qecp.enquiries@hants.gov.uk
Telephone: 023 9259 5040

Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Gravel Hill
Horndean
PO8 0QE

Castle Bottom

The reserve is a large valley bog with associated heathland habitats.

Main habitats: lowland heath

Area: 29 hectares

Management: Castle Bottom NNR is owned and managed by Hampshire County Council

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Castle Bottom webpage of the Hampshire County Council website.

Contact

Email: northern.sites@hants.gov.uk
Telephone: 01252 870425

Kingston Great Common

Main habitats: valley mire and lowland heath

Area: 56 hectares

Features of interest

The NNR is part of the Cranes Moor and Vales Moor valley mire complex. National and international designations include Special Protection Area, Special Area of Conservation, Ramsar and it is within the New Forest National Park.

The mires become waterlogged, particularly in winter, and are dangerous to cross.

The best species to catch here are woodlark, nightjar, Dartford warbler and occasionally hobby, together with over 20 species of dragonfly.

Directions

The reserve is 3km to the south east of Ringwood on the A31 and 2km to the south west of Burley Street village. There is a car park near the reserve on the minor road from Burley Street to Crow village.

Martin Down

The reserve is home to an exceptional collection of plants and animals associated with chalk downland and scrub habitats, including a number of rare or threatened species.

Main habitat: lowland grassland

Area: 342 hectares

Management: Martin Down is jointly owned and managed by Natural England and the Hampshire County Council. Hampshire Wildlife Trust also have the freehold of the north of the NNR called Kitt’s Grave and this area is managed on their behalf by Natural England under a long-term lease.

Features of interest

The NNR represents one of the largest areas of uninterrupted chalk downland in Britain (Salisbury Plain and Porton Down being larger). It has great views across Cranborne Chase and the lack of light pollution at night makes it an ideal area for star gazing.

Notable plants found in the area include bastard toadflax, field fleawort, early gentian and lesser centaury. Twelve orchid species have also been identified, including burnt-tip, green-winged, greater butterfly and frog.

Five bat species have been recorded in the area: noctule, serotine, brown long-eared, common and soprano pipistrelle; and brown hare is found throughout the site. Birds found at Martin Down include turtledove, grey partridge, nightingale, skylark, yellowhammer and linnet. Hobby and quail may also be encountered and Montagu’s harrier and stone-curlew sometimes visit the site.

Directions

The reserve is 14 kilometres south west of Salisbury, 1 kilometre west of Martin village. The northern part of the site is crossed by the A354.

By train

The nearest train station is in Salisbury

By bus

Bus services from Salisbury along the A354 are provided by the Wilts and Dorset Bus Company. There is a bus stop by the main car park with access directly onto the site.

By car

Access to the site is via the A354 and minor roads leading from it. There is a car park on the A354 and another at the end of Sillens Lane, a minor road from the village of Martin, 1km east of the reserve.

By foot

A path, the Jubilee Trail, crosses the site and there are numerous bridleways and footpaths in the area. More information on walking and cycling in the area is available on the Wiltshire Council website.

School and community groups

We are able to provide staff time for a half day or full day of activities for a small number of school visits per year. Please telephone to discuss further. School groups are also able to self guide themselves around the site but please let us know in advance. Please note there are no toilets except for pre-booked visits and coach parking is very limited.

Contact

For further information or to discuss volunteering, contact the NNR enquiry line on 0300 060 6000.

North Solent

Within the New Forest, the North Solent is a large coastal reserve, where ancient oak woods meet estuaries and salt marsh to create a diverse and rich mix of habitats and wildlife.

Main habitats: coastal, grassland, woodland, heathland, reedbeds, valley mires, freshwater through to saline ditch and lagoons

Area: 820 hectares

Features of interest

North Solent is one of the larger National Nature Reserves. It makes up part of the New Forest National Park, and is a fine example of the Hampshire coast, with heaths, valley mires, and ancient oak woodlands that meet coastal habitats along the Beaulieu river estuary.

The coastal grazing marsh, associated coastal habitats and heath are a great place to see some of our country’s most enigmatic bird species, as well as visiting migrants and a variety of raptors.

In spring, breeding lapwing can be seen swooping high and low over the grassland, the avocet too are marking out their territories and making their presence felt. Other species, perhaps not as conspicuous, are redshank, skylark and a host of warblers, all bringing their individual calls to this peaceful area of Hampshire coast.

Through summer and autumn, along with our avian residents, there is an opportunity to see dragonflies and butterflies, such as the pearl-bordered fritillary, which are also on the wing.

As the days get darker and colder, the site’s bird numbers are on the rise and the reserve comes alive with grazing and foraging waders and wildfowl. Flocks of Brent geese, widgeon and teal occupy the coastal fringes and grasslands, along with some more unusual visitors that may drop in to roost and feed.

Directions

The reserve is fragmented, and therefore accessible from different locations; at Beaulieu village and along the Beaulieu River on the ‘Solent Way’ footpath, by permitted access only at Needs Ore. Permits for Needs Ore can be purchased by contacting the Beaulieu Estate office (01590 612345).

By bus

The best public transport links are by bus to Beaulieu village, between July and September you can take the open top New Forest Tour Bus to Beaulieu. Local bus services are provided by the Wilts and Dorset Bus Company.

By train

The nearest train station is Beaulieu Road (5km to the north of Beaulieu) served by South West Trains, however there are more regular services to Brockenhurst, served by South West Trains and Virgin Trains.

By car:

From junction 2 of the M27, follow the B236 to Beaulieu Village, where parking is available and access to the ‘Solent Way’ footpath is possible.

On foot

A major trail, the Solent Way, passes through Beaulieu and then runs parallel to the west bank of the Beaulieu River as far as Bucklers Hard before turning towards Lymington, 7 kilometres to the west.

Further information

There are some opportunities to join the volunteer team at the North Solent NNR. Contact the reserve manager or email VolunteerEnquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

For further information regarding this site contact the NNR enquiry line on 0300 060 6000.

Old Winchester Hill

Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve is a prime example of species-rich chalk grassland in the South Downs National Park.

Main habitats: chalk downland, woodland

Area: 63 hectares

Features of interest

A wide range of classic chalk grassland plants can be found throughout the spring and summer, such as wild thyme, squinancywort, clustered bellflower, salad burnet, horseshoe vetch and restharrow. Less common species such as round headed rampion and field fleawort can also be found.

Old Winchester Hill is known to be a hot spot for the chalk hill blue butterfly, with many hundreds, if not thousands visible on a peak day at the beginning of August. In all, 37 species of butterfly have been recorded on the site, the less common of which include the silver spotted skipper, dark green fritillary and duke of burgundy.

The reserve is a good place to encounter many of the declining farmland bird species such as linnet, yellowhammer, corn bunting. Raptors such as the red kite, buzzard and kestrel can be seen, as well as summer migrants like whitethroats, willow warblers and blackcaps, and passing visitors including the wheatear and the ring ouzel.

The site is also important for archaeology, with prominent Bronze Age burial mounds and well preserved Iron Age hill fort ramparts.

Disabled access

RADAR key holders can use the easy access trail car park which is accessible from the north gate. The easy access trail can then be used to get to the hill fort. There is a kissing gate with a RADAR lock on it there, to allow easier access for wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Directions

By train

Old Winchester Hill is situated mid-way between Winchester and Petersfield, which are served by main railway lines.

By bus

A bus service runs several times a day between Winchester and Petersfield, stopping at West Meon, about 2 miles from the reserve. See Traveline for details.

By car

The reserve can be found 2 miles east of the A32 at the village of Warnford.

On foot and bike

The South Downs Way National Trail crosses the reserve, and is open to walkers, cyclists and horseriders.

School and community groups

The site is open every day of the year and available for self-guided or guided walks. Groups with minibuses or other tall vehicles should contact site staff to ensure that the height barrier at the entrance to the car park is opened. There are no toilet facilities on site.

Volunteering

Volunteers undertake light wardening duties such as patrolling the site, and occasional help with sheep management, monitoring and habitat management work.

Contact volunteerenquiries@naturalengland.org.uk if you are interested in volunteering at Old Winchester Hill NNR.

Contact

Contact the NNR enquiry line on 0300 060 6000 or email: enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Titchfield Haven

Titchfield Haven, part of the lower floodplain of the Meon river, is a low lying and generally flat area. The site was formerly the estuary of the River Meon.

Main habitat: open water

Management: Titchfield Haven is owned and managed by Hampshire County Council.

Features of interest

Further information about the NNR, its wildlife and how to visit can be found on the Titchfield Haven page on the Hampshire County Council website.

Contact

Email: titchfield.enquiries@hants.gov.uk
Telephone: 01329 662145

Titchfield Haven Visitor Centre and Reserve
Cliff Road
Hill Head
Fareham
Hampshire
PO14 3JT