Selborne and Noar Hill

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Noar Hill © Christopher Somerville
Views from the Zig Zag Path © Christopher Somerville
Fungi © Christopher Somerville

The natural world was a puzzle that 18th-century minds longed to put together. From the orgasms of swifts to the submarine breathing of deer, Gilbert White, curate of the Hampshire village of Selborne, noted and questioned everything around him.

The gentle and curious clergyman's letters, published as The Natural History of Selborne, have sold countless millions; and thousands of White's admirers and adherents still flock to Selborne to look round his house, The Wakes, and to climb the Zig Zag path cut into the steep face of The Hanger, the 300-ft chalk escarpment behind the village, by White and his brother John.

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