Pilot Hill shot down over Hampshire

Pilot Hill is not what it seems.  In published lists of county tops, the hill frequently listed as the county top of Hampshire is Pilot Hill, at 938 feet on the ridge of the North Hampshire Downs.  However, the cartography has been checked by the Association of British Counties and it is not:  the compilers of these lists have been misled by modern administrative boundaries.  Since county tops are reckoned by traditional counties, not by shifting administrative conveniences, that will not do.

To the south of the ridge lies Combe, in Hampshire, whose administrative bounds have been redrawn by bureaucrats to encompass parts of Berkshire (no doubt they had their reasons for doing it) and while that does not affect the historic counties, it does cause confusion on maps.

The county boundary runs along the path that follows the chalk ridge of the downs here (a beautiful place for walking), and through the middle of a vast Iron Age hill fort, and this is where counties toppers should be visiting:  the county top of Hampshire is the summit of Walbury Hill, at 974 feet, the hill encompassed by the Iron Age fortifications.  The summit point is marked by a trig point in the middle of a farmer’s field.

The erroneous lists frequently give Walbury Hill as the county top of Berkshire, and they are right there, though the summit is exclusive to Hampshire:  the highest point of Berkshire is on the county border, on the ridge path by the gate leading up to the summit (at 965 feet).

The route along the ridge here is known as the ‘Wayfarer’s Walk’, and a pleasant walk it is on a sunny day; past the impressive earthworks on Walbury Hill walking eastward the path dips and climbs through open land with broad vistas over the Berkshire countryside, and then climbs suddenly through a wood to the top of Pilot Hill, which is worth a visit, even if it has been knocked off its perch.

Pilot Hill holds its own however as the highest hill wholly in Hampshire.

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