A view up to St. Catherine’s Hill near Winchester. You can see the beech copse that tops the iron age fort, and which hides the site of a twelfth-century chapel. This is wonderful old chalkland, and in the summer the slopes are full of butterflies, most prominently marbled whites.
I lived in Winchester briefly and St. Catherine’s Hill was a favourite destination. Walking towards the hill beside the River Itchen, one could sometimes be forgiven for thinking that our wildlife was not so impoverished. In the spring I have watched brown trout rising for mayflies and heard a cuckoo call. On the downs around the hill, I have hear skylarks sing – surely one of the most uplifting songs in nature.
The hill also boasts one of only two surviving mizmazes in the UK. A mizmaze is a turf maze. The one here is unusual for being roughly square. When I visited the maze it did not appear to be well kept.
The beech copse is a slightly eery place. The remains of the chapel are hard to discern, but some spirit lingers there, perhaps much older than the chapel. The cattle that take advantage of the shade here seem unperturbed, but I did not find it comfortable to be there.