The steep wooded hills in this far-western corner of the South Downs are known as ‘hangers’ because the ancient beech, lime, yew and ash woodlands seem to hang from the tall slopes creating a wonderful canopy for walkers.
The 21-mile Hangers Way runs the length of the area going south from Alton, and takes you through hanger woodlands and some of the key sights, including Selborne Common and the picturesque village of Selborne.
On the crown of Selborne Hill is Selborne Common, a designated a site of special scientific interest, managed by the National Trust. The open chalk grassland is rich in wild flowers such as yellow archangel, wood anemone and bird’s nest orchid. Butterflies to spot include the rare purple emperor. Listen out for the soft, piping call of the wood warbler.
The different habitats at Shortheath Common include a large pond, wet and dry heath, acid grassland and bog. These habitats support an amazing range of rare and endangered creatures, including 23 different species of dragonfly, as well as field crickets and water voles. In the July sunshine, thousands of Marbled White butterflies flutter among the grasses and wild flowers.