Watlington Hill

Watlington Hill, with its distinctive triangular shaped chalk white mark, boasts fine views over the Oxfordshire Plain to the north and west. To the south, you'll see beech and ash woodland that cloaks the slopes of the nearby hills.

 

far-reaching views over Watlington town from Watlington Hill

Watlington Hill car parking

We fully understand the need for people to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and we are really pleased to be able to welcome visitors to our outdoor places. When lots of us do this, it can create hot spots. Watlington Hill is currently very busy at weekends. If the car park is full when you arrive, please leave and return at a different time. Please do not park along the road as this causes a problem for local traffic flow. It can also damage the grassy verges which are an important plant and wildlife habitat.

Watlington Hill is well known for the triangular, chalk, 'white mark' which can be seen for miles around. This unusual feature was carved into the hill in 1764. Along with the neighbouring Pyrton Hill, Watlington Hill is part of a larger Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

When you reach the open grassland wonderful views are laid out before you. If it's a sunny day there may be butterflies flying around the hill and there are nearly always red kites not far away.

Chalkhill wildlife

The hill has top quality chalk grassland that is heavily rabbit grazed, giving the turf a 'golf course' like appearance over much of its slopes. Up to 25 species of butterflies can be found here, including chalkhill blues, silver spotted skipper, brimstone, small tortoiseshell and dark-green fritillary. It is also rich in downland flora, of which rock rose, yellow wort, eyebright and twayblade are just a few.

Male adonis blue butterfly
Male adonis blue butterfly
Male adonis blue butterfly

Like most of the National Trust downland sites, the varied scrub content of the hill is extremely important to nesting birds in the spring. Come the winter months and this same scrub provides a bounty of food to winter visiting birds like redwings and fieldfares.

Things to do when you visit

Couple on Watlington Hill, Oxfordshire, looking west, in September.

Watlington Hill short walk

This is a 1.5 mile walk around the Watlington Hill site, with opportunities to see rare and endangered chalk grassland and woodland habitats. The walk offers spectacular views over Watlington, the Vale of Oxford, and along the Chiltern Escarpment.

A few miles east of Watlington Hill, you can find Aston Wood and Juniper Bank.

Autumn sunlight in Aston Wood

Aston Wood and Juniper Bank 

Aston Wood and Juniper Bank are two contrasting areas of beech woodland located on opposite sides of the A40 road on the Chiltern Escarpment in Oxfordshire northwest of Stokenchurch. These quiet woodlands are ideal for walking, and they are great places to see woodland wildlife.

Planning your visit

  • The National Trust pay & display car park for Watlington Hill is located 1.5 miles up Hill Road from Watlington town center, on the right hand side.
  • OS Map grid reference for parking: SU702934. For SatNav users, please use postcode OX49 5HS
  • Parking charges apply from 9am-7pm, £1 per hour or £3 for the day. We recommend downloading the Pay by Phone mobile app, availble on Android Google Play and the Apple App Store, ahead of your visit for ease. Parking is free for National Trust members, please display your sticker.
  • If the car park is full when you arrive, please leave and return at a different time. Please do not park along the road as this causes a problem for local traffic flow. It can also damage the grassy verges which are an important plant and wildlife habitat.
Watlington Hill
Watlington Hill
Watlington Hill

Please do not feed the red kites

We welcome people coming to see the red kites at Watlington Hill, however we ask you not to offer them any sort of food. The National Trust, the BTO, the RSPB and the Chilterns Conservation Board urge the public not to feed red kites. We believe they should be left to feed naturally, thus enabling them to establish a naturally sustainable population level, and to maintain a nutritionally balanced natural diet.

Red kites can survive well in the Chilterns without artificial feeding as there is plenty of natural food, so it is not necessary to supplement their natural diet. Providing additional food can prevent the growing population from spreading naturally, so the birds learn to cluster in large numbers where food is offered. 

Putting out food could ultimately lead to an unsustainably high population of red kites, reliant on human hand-outs. And it can change the kites’ behaviour, leading to some individual birds losing their natural wariness of humans so they become a nuisance to people.