The Zig Zag Path in Selborne

The Zig Zag Steps in Selborne is a literal zig zag path up Selborne Hanger, one of the highest hills in Hampshire.

The unique path cut by Gilbert White and his brother in 1753 scales the steep ascent with a series of short paths.

It’s so unique and I haven’t ever come across anything like it. Once at the top it leads up onto Selborne Common and a stunning series of walking paths.

If you’re looking for a beautiful weekend walk, a wander along this East Hampshire Hanger won’t disappoint.

The Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire

The Zig Zag Path

Gilbert White is synonymous with Selborne and the path is right by the famous museum, which is also worth a visit might I add.

The Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire

When I visited it was the start of Autumn and the area so overgrown that you couldn’t see the natural definition of the Zig Zag.

This is what it currently looks like…

The Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire

This is what it looks like when it’s well manicured…

A well manicured Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire
📸: southdowns.gov.uk

I mean, it’s no wonder I struggled to match the two up. Before I went I did some research and people kept referring to it as ‘the zig zag steps’. Which meant when I went I was looking for a set of physical steps when the feature is actually a zig zag path that sharply goes up Selborne Hill.

The path is truly amazing, and there are several spots to stop along the way and admire the view from different heights. It’s very narrow, and barely space for two people to pass each other. The best place to let people pass you by is on the corners which are slightly wider.

The Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire

Please keep in mind if you have accessibility needs, this is not a friendly path. I did look for accessible routes up to the common but haven’t found any. If this rules this walk out for you, there are plenty of other walks that are much more accessible on my blog. Try the Wickham Water Meadows, a fairly flat route with glorious seasonal colours.

Selborne Hill

Selborne Hill is one of the highest points in Hampshire and part of a series of hills called the East Hampshire Hangers in the Hampshire Downs.

Geeky fact – Selborne Hill’s height qualifies it as a ‘Tump’. A Tump actually an acronym and should be written as TuMP. It stands for a hill that’s Thirty and upwards Metre Prominence, aka a hill that has a prominence above 30m/98ft. Hills of varying levels have only been defined fairly recently – think , and a TuMP sits in the same category family as HuMPs (Hundred and upwards Metre Prominence), Marilyns (above 150m) and Simms (mountains over 600m). This system I believe is only in use in the British Isles, Scotland, Ireland and Wales also have various names for their hills too, who knew?!

Oh and, why yes I did do Geography and an Environmental Science degree, thank you very much for noticing. But, I still had to Google the heights to remind myself though!

You’re more than welcome to use this fact to impress your pals on this walk, and pretend you’re all Attenborough like with your knowledge of nature.

Extra points to you if you sing the Black Eyed Peas ‘my TuMPs’ while walking up Selborne Hill like I did! I know, you’ve just lost all respect for me, so let’s move swiftly on.

Selborne Common and The Zig Zag Path, Selborne in Hampshire

Selborne Common

At the top of the Zig Zag path is Selborne Common, covered with grazing cowes, tall trees and plenty of ferns.

Selborne Common in Hampshire

Be careful when you get up here, it’s easy to get lost, and it’s not very well sign posted – so keep your wits about you.

In the Autumn light, and with the changing colours of the leaves and sprouting mushrooms, it really is spectacular. And, that’s without referring to the obvious amazing views that such an elevation provides.

Walk the Selborne Zig Zag path

There are many walks that involve the Zig Zag path and loop across or around the Selborne Common.

We followed the Gilbert White Circular Walk by Visit Hampshire which provides a circular loop. We did however venture off course a little, it isn’t particularly clear or well signposted at the top on the common. But a few wrong turns, and a little stroll past some country cottages was a pleasant way to find our way back to the car.

There are many more loops too, including…

The car park for the walk and steps is behind The Selborne Arms pub, and there is also free to use public toilets.

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