Stockbridge Down

Undulating downland in summer with a chalk track running through it

Discover breathtaking views and spot a variety of wildlife at Stockbridge Down on the Mottisfont estate.

A chalk hill supporting grassland, areas of scrub and partially wooded margins, the habitat diversity of Stockbridge Down is hugely beneficial to local wildlife. 

Possessing the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, earthworks and around 14 Bronze Age burial mounds, this is also a site of importance for archaeology, as well as nature conservation.

Managing the Down

A flock of Wiltshire Horn sheep at Stockbridge Down, Hampshire

Conservation grazing on Stockbridge Down 

We carry out conservation grazing on Stockbridge Down, which helps prevent scrub from taking over the chalk grassland areas. This allows for a greater variety of plant species, which benefits the local wildlife. The results of our conservation grazing are on display with carpets of colourful wildflowers.

Restoring our landscape

Due to the decline of juniper in southern England, the juniper population of Stockbridge is of high importance. Juniper has declined due to changes in land management after WWII and previously uncontrolled grazing of livestock, deer and rabbits throughout the country.

Unlike most tree species, juniper trees are either male or female, needing at least one of each within the area in order to create new seedlings. The seedlings also need bare soil in order to grow, and so can be easily shaded out by other plants.

We manage our juniper by clearing the scrub around the base of each tree, to prevent overcrowding and subsequent losses from over shading.

Wildlife spotting

Stockbridge Down is a fantastic place to go for all sorts of wildlife but is especially wonderful for its butterflies. There are over 30 species of butterfly here, and on a warm sunny day in mid-summer you can be surrounded by clouds of them.

A pearl bordered fritillary butterfly on speedwell flowers

Butterflies on Stockbridge Down 

Over 40 species of butterfly thrive at Stockbridge Down. Declining varieties such as the Duke of Burgundy and pearl-bordered fritillary can be spotted here, encouraged through careful habitat management.

It is also a very important site for overwintering birds that rely on the scrub habitat for shelter in the midst of the acres of surrounding farmland. Bird species found here include Linnet, Bullfinch, Long Eared Owl and Skylark.

Walking on the Down

Hawthorn blossom in foreground, field with path and trees beyond.

Stockbridge Down 

Over 30 species of butterfly thrive at Stockbridge Down - it's a wildlife oasis. Many of these are already making an appearance by late spring, such as dingy and grizzled skippers. You can enjoy them on our 1.5 mile downloadable walk across this ancient chalk downland full of wildflowers. The panoramic views from the top take you as far as Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.

 

Planning your visit

Park at the Stockbridge Down car park (Sat Nav SO28 8EG).

Dogs are welcome on the site, and dog bins are provided, but please keep your dog under control when in the presence of livestock or ground nesting birds.