Old Winchester Hill Dark Sky Discovery Site
Address: Natural England Car Park, Old Winchester Hill, Near Corhampton, Hampshire, SO32 3LF
Parking: Natural England ask that you make a donation for parking using the RingGo app. Suggested donation of £1.50 for an hour, £3.00 for all day.
Visit the Natural England website for more information; https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/attraction/old-winchester-hill/
Location: Iron-age hill fort in a dark rural area free from street lighting, open all year round. Old Winchester Hill has been a famous and popular beauty spot since Victorian times and beyond. The views across the valley to Beacon Hill and down to the sea are superb.
The National Nature Reserve was designated mainly for its chalk grassland, with many orchid species and butterflies. The extensive scrub is good for bird watching and there is also always the chance of seeing a Red Kite or Buzzard overhead. The site is managed largely by sheep grazing so dogs need to be kept under close control. Incidentally kite flying is also prohibited – birds interpret kites as predators and flee or hide.
The area is rich in archaeology from the Mesolithic (stone age hunter gatherers living after the end of the Ice Age) up to WW2. Most visible are the Iron Age hill fort and the earlier Bronze Age barrows or burial mounds. There is a fully accessible trail at the southern side of the reserve with allocated disabled parking nearby, which takes you to the hill fort. The trail does not extend to the hill fort itself, however, much of the site is flat and most popular areas, including the fort, should be accessible to most powered wheelchairs.
For detailed astronomy information visit the GoStargazing website; https://gostargazing.co.uk/events/locations/old-winchester-hill-nature-reserve/