Walk the Chalk

Ivinghoe Beacon is the site of an Iron-age hill-fort and commands stunning views across the Vale of Aylesbury.

Discover the beauty and rich natural environment of the chalk hills at Ivinghoe Beacon. Follow a route designed to showcase the variety of wildlife and history of this iconic landscape.

Walk the Chalk is a new family-friendly event at Ashridge taking place Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June 10.30am – 4.00pm at the  Ivinghoe Beacon. It is a self-led trail across the fields up to Ivinghoe Beacon. Trail handouts are £2 and provide a route as well as tips on how to spot the wildlife that thrives here. There are stunning views across several counties to discover from the top of Ivinghoe Beacon. 

Birds eye view

The chalk grassland at Ashridge is a unique and fragile habitat. The Beacon and the hills surrounding it comprise one of the largest areas of biologically rich chalk grassland surviving in the Chilterns. Our ranger team is working alongside our tenant farmers to reverse the decline of farmland birds such as yellowhammer, corn bunting and linnet. The trail will highlight the impact that agriculture has on this landscape and the positive impact that new land management methods are having on these farmland birds. 

Ivinghoe Beacon's summer outfit
Ivinghoe Beacon in summer at Ashridge Herts
Ivinghoe Beacon's summer outfit

A special place

The Ivinghoe Hills are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the rich biodiversity that the grassland supports. Many of the plants found in the Ivinghoe Hills are unique to chalk grassland and so are nationally rare. These include plants such as Pasqueflower, early gentian and greater pignut alongside varieties of orchid, vetch, scabious and many other wildflowers. The dry thin soil and grazing by livestock and rabbits helps keep nutrients low, suppressing vigorous grasses and enabling these fragile flowers to thrive. The plants in turn support a number of specialised insects such as yellow meadow ants and the rare phantom hoverfly. The hills are also home to a multitude of butterflies including green hairstreak, small copper, brown argus and chalkhill blue, many of which can be spotted whilst following the route if the sun shines!

The Phantom hoverfly spotted at Ashridge
Phantom hoverfly Ashridge front
The Phantom hoverfly spotted at Ashridge

Stepping through history

A walk across these hills is also a walk through history. The top of Beacon Hill is the site of the most prominent Iron Age hillfort in the Chilterns, a settlement which dates from between 1000BC to 101BC. This area also has a number of Bronze Age ‘bowl barrows’; burial mounds dating to between 2350BC to 701BC.  The landscape here is also noted for its medieval ‘hollow ways’- deep paths eroded over the centuries by local people bringing their livestock up from the villages in the vale below to the grazing land on the hills. 

Ashridges history starts here at Ivinghoe beacon
Ancient settlements on Ivinghoe Beacon at Ashridge Estate
Ashridges history starts here at Ivinghoe beacon

There’s no need to book – just pop along to enjoy the views and see how many of our rare and precious plants, insects and birds you can spot. Staff and volunteers will be on hand to talk about our work to conserve this unique landscape and get you started. The trail starts from the Ivinghoe Beacon Car Park (on Beacon Road, grid reference SP963159).  

Early summer walkers on Ivinghoe Hills Ahridge Herts

Walk the Chalk

Discover the beauty and rich natural environment of the chalk hills at Ivinghoe Beacon. Follow a route designed to showcase the variety of wildlife and history of this iconic landscape.