Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton and Buriton

Follow shady woodland and glorious downland trails to a unique archaeological farmstead.




7.8 miles (12.5kms)

1224ft (373m)
3hrs 45min

About the walk

Queen Elizabeth Country Park lies at the western end of the South Downs National Park and forms part of the East Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Covering some 1,400 acres (567ha), it is dominated by three hills – the chalk downland of Butser Hill, which at 890ft (270m) is Hampshire’s second highest point, and the woodland of Holt Down and War Down. Planted with beech and conifer trees in the 1930s, the woodland is commercially managed and provides excellent recreational facilities.

Along with its informative visitor centre and café, it also provides a useful starting point for longer circular walks and more adventurous hikes along the South Downs Way, the Hangers Way or the Staunton Way. Although this walk makes good use of the country park trails, the emphasis is on exploring the ancient archaeological farm south of the park and two of Hampshire’s oldest and most scenic villages, Chalton and Buriton.

Allow time to visit Butser Ancient Farm (closed Sat–Sun, Oct–Mar) near Chalton. It’s an open-air laboratory for archaeology, focusing on the Iron Age (1000 bc–ad 43) and the Roman period (ad 43–400). Through evidence collected from excavations of prehistoric and Roman sites, it has been possible to recreate a full-scale Iron Age settlement using only the materials and tools that ancient people would have had at their disposal. You can wander around earthworks, view inside a Roman villa with a working hypocaust, see the thatched roundhouses and watch demonstrations of iron smelting, pottery making and weaving. Fields are cultivated with ancient crops using replica tools, and animals can be seen in the livestock enclosures.

Along the lane in Chalton is the thatched Red Lion, reputedly the oldest pub in Hampshire. Visit St Michael & All Angels opposite to see a fine 15th-century font and, from the top corner of the churchyard, a memorable downland view. Explore Buriton before you climb back to the country park. There’s a green with a duck pond, attractive cottages, a large church, rectory and manor house.

Walk directions

From the fingerpost at the car park, follow the ‘Short Woodland Trail’ (green-booted posts) to the right. On reaching the road, turn right then left and join the gravelled track at a blue-topped horseshoe post. Follow the bridleway ahead past the maintenance yard and a house and bear away from the A3 on an overgrown grassy lane.

Gently climb between fields on a fenced path, the bridleway soon curving left around woodland, then gradually bear right between fields, noting the 18th-century windmill on the skyline to your right.

At the road, turn right to visit Butser Ancient Farm, otherwise turn left and follow the road (some blind bends) for 0.5 miles (800m) into Chalton. Turn left at the junction, signed ‘Ditcham’. (Bear right for The Red Lion.)

Continue uphill past Manor Farm and, at a fork, bear left along a byway. Continue between fields and soon descend through trees to join a road. Turn left, walking parallel to the railway for 0.25 miles (400m) and past a metal gate, to a stile on the right. Bear slightly left across a large field, pass under electricity lines and enter woodland near the corner of the field.

At a junction of paths continue straight ahead and steadily climb on a wide forest track. As the track starts to bend left take the grassy fork on the right and start to descend on a sunken footpath and continue down to a road.

Turn right on the road and in 22yds (20m), take the footpath left, keep right and head steeply down through the trees to a kissing gate. Bear slightly right across a field on a fenced path to another kissing gate, then follow the path round to the left, between the pond and the church, into Buriton.

Turn left along the High Street then left again down South Lane, signed Hangers Way, passing the cemetery on the right and a pretty thatched cottage on the left. The tarmac road becomes a gravel path and starts to climb, pass under a railway bridge and continue up a steep path besides the chalk pits. At the road turn right and cross into Hall’s Hill car park.

Go past a gate and up a wide track (South Downs Way, SDW) back into Queen Elizabeth Country Park. Gradually ascend then, just after a track merges from the right, continue ahead on SDW. Shortly after the path forks again, keep ahead on left fork. At the next fingerpost bear right on narrower track (signed SDW). Walk through beech woodland and at a cross tracks continue straight on (signed SDW) as you start to descend. On reaching a T-junction turn right and then at the driveway turn left to the car park.

Additional information

Woodland paths, bridleways and forest tracks, 1 stile

Downland forest and farmland

Dogs can run free in Queen Elizabeth Country Park

OS Explorer OL8 Chichester

Pay-and-display car parks at country park

In visitor centre

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About the area

Discover Hampshire

Hampshire’s varied landscape of hills and heaths, downlands and forests, valleys and coast is without rival in southern England. Combine these varied landscapes and terrains with secluded and idyllic villages, complete with thatched and timber-framed cottages and Norman churches, elegant Georgian market towns, historic ports and cities, restored canals and ancient abbeys, forts and castles, and you have a county that is paradise for lovers of the great outdoors.

If you’re a walker, stride out across the high, rolling, chalk downland of the north Hampshire ‘highlands’ with far-reaching views, walk through steep, beech-clad ‘hangers’ close to the Sussex border. Or perhaps take a gentler stroll and meander along peaceful paths through unspoilt river valleys, etched by the sparkling trout streams of the Test, Itchen, Avon and Meon. Alternatively, wander across lonely salt marshes and beside fascinating coastal inlets or, perhaps, explore the beautiful medieval forest and heathland of the New Forest, the jewel in Hampshire’s crown.

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