Queen Elizabeth Country Park and Butser Hill

Distance: 10 miles approx
Car park: Queen Elizabeth car park (£1 fee)
Map: Explorer 120 plus Country Park Way Guide

My route but also see Jarrolds Pathfinder Guide No.12 Hampshire and New Forest (Walk 9) and the Queen Elizabeth Country Park Guide price 75p at the Visitor Centre

For the walk around the Country Park itself, I chose the Long Woodland Trail which is 5 miles, but there are loads of routes to choose from or you can make up your own meandering route, and extend your route outside the boundaries as both the South Downs Way and the Staunton Way pass through the Country Park.

Butser Hill is a good place to stretch your legs, test your vertigo, and get still more fab views.
You go out of the Country Park car park by the Visitors Centre and under the A3. On the other side, the path goes right, across another car park and down through trees to a gate, right. Butser Hill rises majestically before you.

It can be done without walking poles but why not make life easy for yourself. Besides if you choose not to be a mountain goat, you might well need them up the other side ...

So you go up and up and up and through a gate, then up some more. There is a circular route round the hill in either direction, however I went right and not so circular. At the top there are views everywhere! The Isle of Wight stretches out across the Solent pointing its way out to the English Channel and the Downs roll away on every side. East rise the woody slopes of the Country Park and more hills rear up beyond. To the north is a great valley where Petersfield sits and all surrounded by hills and hangers in every direction. This view accompanies you on the way round to the north side of Butser. Westward now is more downland with villages and farms nestled down. You go over a stile here. A little further on the waymarked route around the hill crosses your path.

In my journal I’ve written “hahahahaha! What am I? A mountain goat?” The path clings to the side of Grandfather’s Bottom, open to the invisible hands waiting to pull you off.

I admit to a touch of vertigo. Heights are fine; it’s steep drops I don’t like – at all!

So what am I to do?

There are a couple of walkers coming up from the direction of a place at the bottom of the hill before me called the Nore. This is the way I choose to go. According to the map it comes out on to a byway. The way goes down and is safely broadly sloped on either side. It goes down into trees the path becoming a steep and narrow chalk channel. I would not recommend this path in or after rain. At the bottom of the slope is a stile. Go over this and turn left up the byway. It’s marked as a bridleway. I would defy any rider to take their horse up this. The path is bare chalk, narrow and worn away into channels by rain. A walking pole for stability in places is a good idea. It is steep but not impossible. And there is the option about halfway up to go back over a stile on to a better path along the side of Grandfather’s Bottom again. I choose not.

I tend not to stop when I’m on a walk. In fact most of my walks can be like route marches. This one I had to stop twice to give my legs a brief respite. Eventually the path becomes a bit more stable underfoot, if still steep in slope, and eventually comes out to the top of the hill at a driveway which goes up to the Butser Hill car park. From here, turn left and follow the bridle path back down through the gate through which you came on the way up thesouth-west slope and return under the A3 to the Country Park.

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