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Footsteps of the Naturalists

Footsteps of the Naturalists

Follow in the footsteps of Gilbert White, pioneering British naturalist. His classic book, The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne, noting his observations on the plants, birds and animals of the area, was first published in 1789 and is still in print.

A figure of eight Gilbert White Literary Walk takes you past the sights and landscapes in and around Selborne that inspired White’s life-long investigation of the natural world.

The first circuit follows the valley and is on a level, taking you through Selborne’s history, including the churchyard where Gilbert White is buried.

The second circuit is up the zig zag and along the Selborne Hanger where you can admire stunning views over the valley. Look out for the sarsen, or wishing stone, on top of the zig-zag which was placed there by Gilbert White.

Each circuit starts at the public car park behind the Selborne Arms, so you can stop off for a refreshing pint. Sample one of the several local ales featured on the bar or fill up from a menu of delicious homemade and locally-sourced food before continuing your walk.

Afterwards, follow the brown signs and visit Gilberts White’s House where all the family will find plenty to see and explore. An extension to the house hosts The Oates Collection, devoted to two members of the Oates Family – Frank Oates, Victorian explorer and naturalist, and Captain Lawrence Oates who accompanied Scott to the South Pole.

Getting around
Distance First circuit 2.5 miles, second circuit 3.5 mile
Duration A half-day walk and afternoon visit to Gilbert White’s House & The Oates Collection
Grade FAIR first circuit, ENERGETIC second circuit
Directions – Bus Stagecoach 37x and 38 at Stop R outside Petersfield railway station takes under 40 minutes to the Selborne Arms.
Directions – Walk 10 miles walk along the Hangers Way from Petersfield railway station to Selborne village.

  1. Walk left outside Petersfield railway station and left again onto Station Road.
  2. Carefully cross the level crossing and continue on Station Road.
  3. Look out for the public pathway on Garage Cottages next to the car sales outlet.
  4. Follow the public footpath and continue on Tilmore Road.
  5. Look out for the gateway and the waymarked signs to the right of the entrance to Steep House Nursing Home at the junction with Tilmore Gardens.
  6. Continue on the Hangers Way, crossing the A3 and passing through Hawkley and Noar Hill Hangers until you reach the Sebourne Arms.

Useful information

The Hangers Way is a 21-mile long-distance walking route that runs from Alton Station, along a -series of steep-sided wooded hills known as The Hangers, through pretty Petersfield to the Queen Elizabeth Country Park.

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"The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."