Our work

Bluebells on the Ashridge Estate © Tobias Reynolds

Bluebells on the Ashridge Estate

Looking after Ashridge

You might think that the countryside looks after itself but this is far from true. Here at Ashridge, we have a wide variety of different environments, consisting of ancient woodlands, large commonland meadows and scarce chalk grasslands.

Our two invaluable teams - rangers and foresters - look after this huge estate for everyone to enjoy.

Volunteers and Belted Galloways on lunch break © Arthur Whiting

Volunteers and Belted Galloways on lunch break

Our invaluable non-human helpers

These small friendly cattle graze the Ivinghoe Hills to help keep the scrub in check. Their small hooves break up the compacted earth where it has been overused. They are curious animals and may approach you but they are not aggressive.

We also have sheep grazing on the Pitstone and Ivinghoe Hills to help keep non-native grasses in check.

Archaeological research

Volunteers checking ancient sites

Volunteers checking ancient sites

Ashridge has a great many undisturbed archaeological sites ranging from Bronze Age to the 20th century, because it hasn't ever been ploughed by modern machinery.  However, there are signs of medieval plough lines, or lynchets, in places.

Examples of what we have include things such as historic wood banks, marking ancient boundaries and droving routes worn away by the passage of people and their livestock over hundreds of years.

Damage is done by over-trampling which causes erosion, so our volunteer groups are now monitoring this and can take steps to protect the more vulnerable areas.

Projects and routines

  • A group of volunteers clearing a heather bed at Ashridge © Emily Smith

    Rescuing the heather

    Removing dominant grasses to expose dormant heather seed, allowing it to re-grow and flourish.

  • Coppicing beech on the Ashridge Estate © Bee Saville

    Coppicing sweet chestnut

    Coppicing involves cutting trees and shrubs down to ground level so that they sprout again.

  • Ashridge project to clear Corsican pines © Coralie Hancock-Barnett

    Removing unwanted trees

    A group of Corsican pines, planted in the 70s, is out-of-place here and being removed in stages.<...