Pegsdon Hills and Hoo Bit
Know before you go
Tracks and paths across the grassland can be steep and uneven
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to June, July to September, October to March
About the reserve
One of the jewels of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Pegsdon Hills’ steep chalk hills offer some of the best views in the county. In spring, moschatel, or town-hallclock, named after the arrangement of its flowers, can be found in the woodland, while dingy and grizzled skipper butterflies flutter around in the grassland.
With summer arrives the smell of fresh herbs like wild thyme, marjoram and wild basil. The melodious song of the skylark is heard around the reserve. After dark the eerie green luminescence of glow-worms emanates from the grassland and bats fly 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 skirt along the woodland edge, while flocks of birds feed on seeds in hedgerow and field. We coppice in the wood and fell trees to allow light to reach the woodland floor.
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 grassland is grazed and we remove scrub to prevent succession. We have work parties for the North Chilterns Chalk nature reserves, find out more here.