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The nickname of Little Switzerland is rather apt as you look out over this vista at Happy Snapper Hanger.

Ashford Hangers  NNR



 White-Letter Hairstreak on Thistle

Wych Elm 


Barn Owl in flight


There is a small colony of the illusive Purple Emperor on the reserve 

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Ashford Hangers National Nature Reserve


Woodland of beech, ash and yew on steep chalk hillsides, with areas of chalk grassland and a treasure trove of rare plants. Panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.


About the site


Ashford Hangers is one of Hampshire's most beautiful woodland areas. The name "Little Switzerland" has been given to this part of Hampshire due to its fantastic scenery.

The rise and fall of the landscape and its silhouette on the skyline is made more impressive because most of the area is covered in trees, many of them magnificent beeches. The whole area of the East Hampshire Hangers is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The name 'hanger' comes from the Old English 'hangra' meaning a wooded slope.


There is a wealth of wildlife on site with the elusive Purple Emperor which can be seen in the summer months of late June and July. Also the rare White-Letter Hairstreak has been noted where you find Wych Elms which grow on the slopes. Both of these species are mainly seen in the canopy of the trees, but if you are patient enough they will descend to feed. the Purple Emperor on the ground normally on gravel or stony ground and the White-letter Hairstreak on thistles if they grow nearby. Overhead the Buzzard and Red Kite can be heard as they patrol the slopes for carrion and also Barn Owls and Tawny Owls can be seen at dusk in the more flatter parts of the site. There also Roe Deer in the woodland glades and nationally rare Dormouse have been found in the Hazel plantations.



Ashford Hangers National Nature Reserve



  • The Hangers have important historical connections with the 18th century naturalist Gilbert White and the poet Edward Thomas. On Shoulder-of-Mutton Hill there is a plaque to the poet Edward Thomas as this is where he and his wife Helen lived before his death. London born, he loved the hills of Hampshire and it is hard not to share his "impassioned, almost trance-like delight in things natural."

Access to the Hangers by road is not easy, but there is a network of footpaths and tracks popular with walkers. The Hangers Way is a through route linking Petersfield, Selborne and Alton.

Contact us

Phone 01590 674 656


Central Countryside Sites, Crabwood Depot, Sarum Road, Winchester, Hampshire, SO22 5QS

Beech Woodland in the early summer

Elm Trees are found on the steep slopes of Ashford Hill. The White-Letter Hairstreak lay their eggs on the Elm tree leaves.

Buzzards are the most numerous of our Birds of Prey and can be found circling over the hangers on the up drafts looking for prey.

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Red Kites are now a common sight over the Hangers, and will readily breed in the tall Beech woodland on the slopes.

Ashford Hangers in the distance are very prominent in the Hampshire countryside

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