In the Footsteps of Gilbert White at Selborne
Route type: Other
Total climb: 413.39 ft
Distance: 5.52km, 3.43 miles. Like (3)
Selborne, and its beautiful surrounding countryside, were made famous over two centuries ago by the writings and reputation of the clergyman and pioneer naturalist Gilbert White who published The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne in 1789. Based on 40 years of observation and meticulous recording of the flora and fauna around the village, it is one of the few books on natural history to gain the rank of an English classic. White poetically describes his day-to-day experiences of nature in the Hampshire countryside through a series of letters to his friends Thomas Pennant and Daines Barrington. Local Boy. Born in the village in 1720, White was the grandson of a vicar of Selborne, and, having been ordained after attending Oxford, he returned to live in the village to serve as a curate at neighbouring parishes and at Selborne in 1751. From the age of ten until his death in 1793 he lived at The Wakes, a large rambling house that overlooks the village green (the Plestor) and church. Although the village has changed, White would find the surrounding landscape that he knew and loved so well largely unspoilt and now preserved by the National Trust. This walk literally follows in Whiteâ€™s footsteps, exploring the lofty, beech-clad hills or â€˜hangersâ€™ that rise steeply behind his home, and the lush â€˜lythesâ€™ or meadows beyond St Maryâ€™s Church, both beautiful areas through which he would stroll and passionately observe and note the wildlife around him. The walk comprises two loops around the village, so if you are short of time (or energy) you can enjoy the classic climb on to Selborne Common and still have time to visit Gilbert Whiteâ€™s home, now a museum.