The highest point on the South Downs – and one of the most visited hills in southern England – will be significantly improved for walkers and wildlife, thanks to a £240,000 makeover.

At 271 metres, Butser Hill overlooking Petersfield is one of the crown jewels of the South Downs National Park, visited by more than 80,000 people every year who enjoy its panoramic views of coast and country and the enchanting wildlife.

Now investment by the National Park Authority, Hampshire County Council and the National Grid will see a raft of improvements, including new trails, resurfaced pathways, enhanced views and restored ancient chalk grassland.

One of the focuses of the five-year project will be the dramatic chalk scarp slope called Grandfather’s Bottom (pictured above).

Invasive scrub vegetation will be removed to accentuate the South Downs landscape and enhance chalk grassland that is home to several rare species, such as the chalkhill blue and Duke of Burgundy butterflies. Around 380 metres of path and steps also will be resurfaced.

And new views will be opened up with the removal of diseased ash trees and a new arrangement of parking spaces will encourage views of the landscape away from the existing electricity pylons.

South Downs National Park Authority chief executive Trevor Beattie said: “Butser Hill is one of the iconic gems of the western side of the national park and this major new funding will improve the visitor experience even further.

“Chalk grassland is an internationally-important wildlife habitat, so I’m pleased this work will further enhance the biodiversity, the dramatic views and also help people get closer to nature.

“The project fits seamlessly into the national park’s long-term plans for nature recovery and creating better places for both people and nature.

“I hope it will also inspire people to find out more about the area’s rich history and ways we can all care for this treasured landscape.”

n See next week’s Post for a special report on the work to improve Butser Hill.