Nature and wildlife at Queen Elizabeth Country Park

Butser Hill

Butser Hill is the highest point in both Queen Elizabeth Country Park and the whole of the South Downs. With 360° spectacular panoramic views, on a clear day you can see Spinnaker Tower, the Isle of Wight and a gorgeous view of the South Downs. It's also an incredible area of chalk grassland where fauna and flora thrive. 

It’s one of the top 20 Hampshire chalk grassland sites for its rich vascular plants and is home to 125 species of bryophytes and 82 species of lichen. In late spring and summer, stunning wildflowers like orchids and cowslips also adorn the grassland slopes overlooking Grandfather’s Bottom.

Butser Hill is also an important conservation area for many butterfly species. Over 30 species of butterfly have been sighted here, including Duke of Burgundy and the silver-spotted skipper. Another highlight of the area is the distinctive flight song of the skylarks who nest in the long grass on the top of the hill.

The hilltop and slopes are grazed by sheep and cattle to help support the grassland habitat and wildlife found there. When livestock are grazing, for safety please keep dogs on leads.


Grandfather’s Bottom

This impressive valley with unusually steep slopes is located just north of the Butser kiosk, cutting into the chalk slopes. This area of Buster is a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) for geomorphological features.

Dark skies reserve

Darkness can be adventurous. Butser Hill is a dark skies reserve, an area free from light pollution that achieves natural night-time darkness. This makes it one of the best places in the UK to stargaze.

Queen Elizabeth Forest

In 1928, the Forestry Commission bought the land at Holt and War Down, which was no longer used for grazing, and planted trees for timber production. Today, the woodlands are a mix of beech, western red cedar and western hemlock. These trees provide habitats for animals like fallow and roe deer, as well as badgers, tawny owls and red kites.

The edge of the woodlands and forest is such a rich habitat for wildlife because of the many layers of vegetation that exist between the downland grasses and the trees. These habitats are homes to creatures such as adders and field voles. During late spring and early summer pyramidal and the common orchids can be found blooming within the tall grasses.

Queen Elizabeth Forest
Red Kite


Disabled parking is available near the Butser Kiosk. The hilltop is easy to navigate around, however due to the topography of the site some areas may not be suitable for wheelchair users. There is an accessibility toilet located in the Round House.