Portsdown Hill is a ridge of chalk that lies to the north of Portsmouth Harbour on the South Coast of England. The north side of the hill is farmland, horse paddocks and public open space, while the south side is a mix of chalk grassland and scrub, much of it designated as a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest).
This website describes the open spaces managed by the staff and volunteers of the Portsdown Hill Countryside Service.

Besides the SSSI, there are other areas on nature conservation interest on the hill, including SINCs (Sites of Interest for Nature Conservation). A variety of landowners and agencies own and manage the rest of the hill including the MoD, local authorities and utility companies. Within these ownerships, fragments of the once widespread chalk downland habitat remain.

Tesco Bags of Help: New walkway Open

The Friends of Portsdown Hill have obtained a grant of 10,000 to establish a new footpath from Pigeon House Lane up to and alongside Southwick Road. A neglected hedge has been cleared out and laid where possible, with new shrubs added in the gaps. A long run of new fencing has been completed by contractors. Other fencing, gates and various jobs have been done by volunteers, mainly on Wednesdays. Various additional refinements are in progress. Richard Jones, Portsdown Hill Countryside Officer, is coordinating the project.
The new walkway significantly improves public access on the north side of the hill, enabling various alternatives for walking routes. It connects with the path from Mill Lane to Pigeon House Lane. This was established by volunteers in 2016, and follows the line of an old hedgerow between fields.
Grant money comes from the 5p charge made for carrier bags in Tesco stores. Two other local organisations received grants of 12,000 and 8,000. The Friends would like to thank everyone voted for our project in the Cosham and North Harbour stores.

Butterflies and their foodplants on Portsdown Hill

foodplants for caterpillars

Photo Photo

Getting data


For matters and requests relating to management of the hill,
e-mail: Richard Jones
telephone 023 9238 9623
or write to :
Richard Jones MIEEM
Portsdown Hill Countryside Officer
Portsdown Hill Countryside Service
Fort Widley, Portsdown Hill Road
Portsmouth, PO6 3LS

This website is maintained by Alan Thurbon for the Friends of Portsdown Hill. For comments or contributions,
e-mail: FoPH (mail@portsdown.org.uk)

Latest News


We were very pleased at the Portsmouth Inspiring Volunteer Awards 2017 on 6th June, as Portsdown Hill Conservation Volunteers won the team award for Environment and Conservation. This turned to total surprise near the end of the event when they also won the Volunteer Team of the Year award.
The awards are gratefully received in recognition of the work put in by volunteers over many years to assist the City Council and its sole employee in maintaining a high standard of access and interest.

Dead Badgers
Research is being conducted into the prevalence of TB in badgers. If you spot a dead badger, probably a road-kill, please inform Richard Jones (details above) ASAP. He will collect it if sufficiently fresh for the analysis to work.

Walkway pictures


Working on the new walkway

Insect survey results
With financial support partly from the Friends, Bryan Pinchen has again been surveying for insects. Amongst the Ivy Bees he has found the Nationally Scarce Conopid fly Leopoldius signatus, a late summer species typically found at Ivy. The bumblebee Bombus humilis has again been found, this is much rarer than the similar-looking Common Carder bumblebee, Bombus pascuorum. Both reports can be downloaded from the Wildlife page.

A Quick Guide to Berries
Here are pictures of all the berries you are likely to see on the hill.

Map showing compartments
There is now a map showing grazing compartments. Various other features will be added. See the SSSI part on the Places page.

There is a worrying amount of Cotoneaster, of various species, on the south side of the hill. It is not native to chalk downland but is capable of spreading easily by seed. Volunteers are engaged in controlling it either by digging it up or by cutting it down to ground level, hopefully without knocking too many berries off. This issue illustrates a typical conservation dilemma, since the variety of species attracts the interest of botanists keen to record invasive plants.

About this website

The Wildlife and Management pages make use of a lot of material which was created by a regular volunteer, Hilma Miles. She took hundreds, possibly thousands of photographs, and was keen to help with the various daily tasks such as moving cattle and scrub clearing. She died in her sleep while on holiday trekking in the Himalayan foothills of Bhutan.
An obituary was published in the Southampton Daily Echo on 6th December 2008.