Chilbolton Cow Common, Hampshire

Chilbolton Cow Common in Hampshire is a great place to see wild otters; try this short walk along the River Test to train your eye at spotting the UK's largest semi-aquatic mammal says Simon Cooper




The two hours before dawn and the two hours after dusk are the best times to spot otters. And it’s not as if the British weather is going to deter them. So grab your coats, wellingtons and a little bit of patience because these elusive mammals are notoriously tricky to spot. 

A wide variety of wildlife can be spotted in Hampshire, including kestrels, red kites and egrets ©Simon Cooper 

1. To the river

Drive to Joy’s Lane in Chilbolton and leave your car in the free car park. Follow the Test Valley Way through the common until you cross the footbridge over the River Test.  

2. In their territory

Turn left along the bank of the river, walking downstream for 350m to the edge of the common. This is prime otter territory, so be alert.

3. A pair of ponds

Turn right away from the river along the path. After a few minutes you pass two ponds, both popular with otters.

Otters are noisy mammals and you will often hear one before seeing it ©Getty

4. Passing the Test

Continue north-east along the path, keeping the river to your left before re-joining the Test Way at a footbridge. 

5. Bog under foot

Return towards the car park and re-cross the footbridge, turning right downstream to explore the opposite bank of the River Test. The going is often boggy, so wellingtons are essential. This is a 1.5 mile walk, so be sure to take your time. 


To learn more about Simon Cooper’s otter spotting, read about his personal encounters at Chilbolton Cow Common here.