Old Winchester Hill NNR

Male Duke of Burgundy

The South Downs National Park covers an area of 1,600 km2 offering a landscape that is both varied and breathtaking. These spaces include: Green rolling pastures, open spaces, ancient woodlands and river valleys. While busy towns and traditional villages that are rich in history offer lots of opportunities for cultural understanding and activity.

 

The South Downs is a living, working place that has changed over several thousand years of relationships between people and the places they live and work in, and this is still the case today.

The chalk hills made this area of England good to farm and therefore attracted settlers. Almost every stage of the British human history can be seen in the way the land has been developed and changed. The type of land and natural resources of the National Park have influenced the patterns of agriculture, settlement, industry and culture. The places we now see as special are the result of these interactions between people and the places they live and work in.

 

Fantastic opportunities exist for you to enjoy the area’s special qualities through the rights of way network. The extraordinary South Downs Way offers a real opportunity to escape the hustle of everyday life. Along this 160 kilometre National Trail, you can walk through ancient woodlands, carpeted with bluebells; watch roe deer darting through wildflower meadows; witness hares boxing or even spot a red kite hunting above.

We all have a shared responsibility to care for the National Park and the South Downs National Park Authority works closely in partnership with local communities, conservation organisations, volunteers, local authorities, businesses and farmers.

 

Wildlife Spotting

 

The South Downs National Park is a rich mosaic of habitats, the product of centuries of human and non-human interaction with the landscape.

This relationship between people, grazers and geological forces has created truly unique habitats that allow rare and internationally-important species to thrive and flourish.

 

Wander through the South Downs in East Hampshire and it is impossible not to be impressed by the beauty of the wooded hills.

You can lose yourself in steep valley sides cloaked in hanger woodlands.

Many fish, amphibians and invertebrates thrive in the chalk streams of the Meon and Itchen whilst rare butterflies flourish on the flower-rich chalk grasslands.

A rich diversity of landscape areas exist across West Sussex.

 

The distinctive Wealden Greensand ridge, formed from deposited sands and clays when this part of Britain was under the sea, shares the same sloping landform as the chalk hills. River valleys support wetland habitats and wildlife.

 

Lowland heaths provide shelter and breeding grounds for reptiles and heathland insects.  

Ancient woodlands, beech plantations and mystical yew groves offer secluded habitats for specialist species.

 

On the iconic sheep-grazed downland you will find rare plants such as the round-headed rampion, many orchids, delicate butterflies such as the Adonis and Chalkhill Blues, and a wealth of other wildlife.

The chalk sea cliffs, shoreline and the Cuckmere Estuary along the Heritage Coast at the eastern end of the National Park host a wide range of coastal wildlife.

Male Adonis Blue

Male Dark Green Fritillary 

Wild Flowers in a meadow after grazing

Cowslips are very common in the park foodplant for the Duke of Burgundy

The South Downs Farmers Group aim is to bring more bio-diversity to the landscape, this is near Small Down close to Butser Hill.

Orchids are one of the most beautiful flowers found on the downs: This is a Bee Orchid 

Most of the Beech woodland across the down have good areas of Bluebells in the spring

Male Silver-Spotted Skipper

Early morning mist and sunrise in winter at Small Down

The 160 odd kilometres of walkways along the whole of the South Downs National Park would see you go through some of the most spectacular scenery there is in the UK

The early morning landscape in the national park looking over towards the Sussex border

Part of the Old Winchester Hill NNR facing north