Fort Nelson

Downland area with a rich flora, enjoying panoramic views over Portsmouth Harbour

Rock rose

About the site

Fort Nelson is a remnant of the once far more extensive downland of Portsdown Hill, a chalk ridge that overlooks Portsmouth. The site provides a stunning viewpoint across Portsmouth, Gosport and The Solent. The open network of paths take walkers through flowery grassland and other wildlife-rich habitats.


Much of the hills extensive chalk grassland is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The grassland is home to fantastic displays of wildflowers that change through the seasons. It is an excellent place to spot bees, butterflies and hundreds of other pollinating insects. This flower-rich grassland is now a rare habitat as much of it has been lost from the countryside.

The hill is also rich in bird life, with species such as Yellowhammers and Whitethroats singing from the bushes, as well as Skylarks floating above the waving grassland. Kestrels and Peregrines are present all year and Red Kites can be seen soaring overhead.

Evidence of our ancestors is everywhere and history, especially military history, is hard to miss. Museums are on hand in some of the Victorian forts to help tell the story.

Contact us

South Area Office, Ranger Depot, Pylands Lane, Southampton SO31 1BH

Phone 023 8040 2534