The hills are alive at Ashridge

This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.

The Ivinghoe Hills are a part of the Ashridge Estate and part of the Chilterns - an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Ridgeway footpath runs along the Chilterns, beginning and ending at the top of Ivinghoe Beacon.

From here it becomes the Icknield Way as it heads towards Whipsnade. Together with the rest of the Ivinghoe Hills, this place is the largest complex of chalk grassland on the Chilterns escarpment. Much of this area is classified as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

Heavily indented grooves (drovers' paths) along much of the Ridgeway, and particularly in this area, bear witness to the movement of men and beasts over centuries.

It is thought that the Ridgeway was used in preference to the lower, less accessible routes because of its height. It gave visibility and firm ground underfoot.

Rare residents

You'll find several nationally rare plants here, such as the pasque flower, early gentian, field fleawort, fine leaved fumiary and greater pignut.

Butterflies, including the chalkhill blue, the small blue and the Duke of Burgundy, can also be found here. We have walks centred on the most likely spots to see them.

The nearby woodland is a mix of beech and ash with extensive areas of hawthorn scrub, which is managed to prevent it becoming too dense.

Archaeologically speaking, the most interesting areas are the Neolithic Pitstone Flint Mines, the later Bronze-Age dyke system known as Grim's Ditch, the Bronze-Age round barrow and the Iron-Age hill fort on the Beacon summit. The round barrow and hill fort are both Scheduled Ancient Monuments. These ancient sites link Bronze and Iron-Age peoples from all the surrounding areas.