Steep hills and tranquil valleys in the chilterns with magnificent views of the countryside
One of the jewels of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Pegsdon Hills offers some of the best views in the county. The steep chalk hills and quiet valleys are full of wildlife, from magnificent displays of orchids and butterflies, to nesting lapwings and circling buzzards. In spring, moschatel, or town-hall-clock, named after the arrangement of its flowers, can be found in the woodland. Other spring highlights include dingy and grizzled skipper butterflies which are now found in only a few places in the county. Spend a while here and a wheatear or ring ouzel may stop off to feed before heading north to breed.
With summer arrives the smell of fresh herbs as you walk through wild thyme, marjoram and wild basil. The melodious song of the skylark follows you around the reserve while you soak up the atmosphere. Stay until after dark and look for the eerie green luminescence of glow-worms emanating from the grassland and glimpse the occasional bat flying overhead.
Hoo Bit, once a larch plantation, is now a flower-rich, grazed meadow, surrounded by woodland. White helleborine flowers in large numbers beneath the dense shade of beech trees. In autumn, honeysuckle, black bryony and old-man's-beard drape over trees and shrubs offering seeds and berries to hungry birds and small mammals. In winter, fallow deer may be glimpsed along the woodland edge, while flocks of birds feed on seeds in hedgerow and field.
The site has an interesting social as well as natural history. The deep earthwork on the Bedfordshire/Hertfordshire county boundary was once a barrier to free passage, situated as it is near to the ancient route of the Icknield Way. Large, multi-stemmed beech trees now mark its presence. Strip lynchets, or cultivation terraces, are evidence of an ancient settlement and there is a series of small quarries indicating former small-scale mineral extraction.
The map below is for indication purposes only and does not show the Wildlife Trusts definitive land boundary.
Species and habitats
- Grassland, Woodland
- Buzzard, Fieldfare, Grey Partridge, Lapwing, Meadow Pipit, Redwing, Skylark, Turtle Dove, Wheatear, Yellowhammer, Brown Argus, Dark Green Fritillary, Green Hairstreak, Small Heath, Glow-worm, Autumn Gentian, Fragrant Orchid, Milkwort, Rock-rose, Common Spotted orchid, Cowslip, Eyebright, Harebell, Wild Thyme
Nearby nature reserves
Nature reserve map
Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2012. For indicative purposes does not show exact boundaries.