- See flora, fauna and a variety of animals across the beautiful hills.
- Walk across a variety of terrains as you explore the Chilterns.
- Explore Watlington, an Oxfordshire parish town with the extraordinary views of the hills.
- Spot the Watlington White Mark and learn the fascinating reason behind it.
Watlington Hill, Oxfordshire is a National Trust Oxfordshire property and a Site of Special Scientific Interest in Watlington. Originally part of Watlington Park, the 240-metre peak was purchased by William Stonor in 1632, and then became part of the property of John Tilson in the 18th century. John Tilson then built a Palladian mansion on the site, which is unfortunately not able to be visited. If you're a fan of beautiful parks like Holland Park, or love open spaces like Wepre Park you’ll love Watlington Park.
One of the most interesting features of the hill is the Watlington White Mark, designed by local squire Edward Horne. After deciding the parish church was not impressive, he decided the mark would give the impression of a spire. The mark was carved into the chalk soil in 1764.
Watlington Hill is also famous for the variety of nature available to see. For Oxfordshire bird sightings, you have to go to Watlington Hill. Look out for redwings and fieldfares, especially during the winter as they are winter-visiting birds. You can also try and spot buzzards and ravens. The varied scrub content is delicious food for the birds but is also great for the spring nesting birds. The hill is also one of the best view sites in the Chilterns for red kites. However, if you do see them, remember not to feed them. You can also try and spot beautiful butterflies, as over 25 species live on the hill. See chalkhill blues, silver spotted skipper, small tortoiseshell, male adonis blue and dark-green fritillary butterflies. There’s also plenty of beautiful flowers.
Looking for more animals? The Watlington Hill Farm Sanctuary is a home for horses, donkeys, sheep, cows and goats, where they can live as natural a life as possible. There’s a spot at the farm which enables humans and the animals to interact at the animal’s discretion.
Part of the Beacon Festival involves Watlington Hill too. The Music on the Hill Watlington festival or Watlington Hill festival takes place at Watlington Hill Farm. The festival has 40 bands performing over three stages, delicious food from around the area, a children’s zone, and some relaxing hot tubs and posh camping if you want some luxury.
If you’re looking for a Watlington Hill walk, there is a 1.5 mile moderate and dog-friendly walk that takes you around the site and lasts an hour. You will walk through chalk grassland and acid soils before moving into ancient yew woodlands. See if you can spot rabbits, hares and fallow, roe or Muntjac deer along the walk. There are also orange markers so that you don’t lose your way. There are also walks that will take you all over Oxford. Watlington Hill and the Wormsley Estate is a challenging 4 hour walk taking you around the National Trust’s Watlington Hill site, Pyrton Hill, Cowleaze Wood and the Wormsley Estate; you’ll need the 1:25 000 Ordnance Survey map for this one, and it’s not dog-friendly. There’s also the Greenfields and Saxon Roads 7 mile walk. This challenging, three and a half hour dog-friendly walk will take you past the Watlington Hill site, up the Chiltern escarpment through the National Trust woodland at Greenfield Copse, to several small valleys on the dip slope of the Chilterns where you can see the Thames Valley and even further beyond. The route returns to Watlington Hill via an ancient Saxon lane. You’ll need the OS map for this one too. There’s also a slightly shorter but still challenging 11.3 miles, five and a half hour dog-friendly walk. It will take you from Watlington Hill to the Chilterns escarpment and the Oxford Vale. The same OS map will be needed here.
Looking for somewhere to eat? Watlington has plenty. Whether you’re looking for delicious Italian food at The Half Moon or gourmet delights at Olivier at The Red Lion, you’ll find it in Watlington.
What to know before you go
- For buggies and wheelchair users, there is a path through the woodland to the edge of the chalk grassland. There is then a wheelchair accessible kissing gate to the chalk downland, but the gradient is steep, and there is a crossfall.
- Public toilets are available in Watlington, and there’s a wheelchair-accessible toilet at the Fox and Hounds pub in Christmas Common.
- You can picnic on Watlington Hill, or enjoy food in Watlington.
- The Watlington Hill car park is accessible 1.5 miles up Hill Road from Watlington town centre on the right-hand side.
- There is no public transport from Watlington to Watlington Hill, but the walk is 37 minutes on average.
- To get to Watlington, Watlington railway station is on the Fen line and serviced by Great Northern.
- Cycle routes are available.