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Blow's Downs

Flower rich grassland on steep chalk hills

The steep chalk hills rising from the edges of Luton and Dunstable have allowed this site to retain grassland full of colour, with areas of scrub providing shelter for birds and insects. The reserve includes a small disused quarry and banks associated with medieval cultivation terraces. Similar sites have declined nationally and because this reserve is a fine example of this habitat, it is a designated Site of Scientific Interest. 
The views from the top are well worth the climb. The slopes themselves are covered with flower-rich grassland, home to possibly the largest population of great pignut in the county. In spring, orchids dot the hillsides, followed by the late summer hues of wildflowers such as scabious, and knapweeds.

The steepest banks where the soils are very thin and nutrient-poor are where the less competitive, lower-growing herbs can flourish. These include horseshoe vetch, common rock-rose and kidney vetch, the foodplants of the specialist chalk butterflies chalkhill blue, brown argus and small blue.

In spring and autumn, migrant birds stop off at Blow’s Downs to feed before heading off once again on their way to their nesting or wintering grounds. Wheatear, stonechat, whinchat and ring ouzel are among the most notable seasonal visitors.

We prevent woodland succession on the grassland by grazing with cattle and ponies, and by removing scrub.
To compensate for wildlife habitat lost to the Guided Busway, three acres of land were added to Blow’s Downs nature reserve. The Paddocks, the Hayfield and Chaul End field are all now managed for the benefit of wildlife.

We have regular work parties in our North Chilterns Chalk reserves; see our website for details.

 

The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.

Nearby nature reserves

Lancot Meadow
2 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Sewell Cutting
2 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
Landpark Wood
2 miles - Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

Nature reserve map

Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.

Reserve information

Location
On the boundary between Luton and
Dunstable
Bedfordshire
Map reference
TL 030 215
Best time to visit
Apr - Jun
Jul - Sep
Oct - Nov
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
Size
62.30 hectares
Status
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Access
Yes

Walking information
Mostly firm and dry; steep uphill gradient. Minor paths are slippery when wet.
Parking
Park with care on road verge. Entrance is adjacent. Please note parking is limited.
Dogs
Dogs under effective control
Grazing animals
yes
Reserve manager
Tel: 01234 364213
bedfordshire@wildlifebcn.org