Landscapes and Wildlife in the Chilterns Countryside

The grasslands, farmland and woodlands of the Chiltern Countryside are rich in wildlife. Several of our sites contain areas of rare chalk grassland, where the thin soils support a huge variety of wildflowers. These, together with our beech woodlands and carefully managed farmland, attract a cornucopia of birds, mammals, butterflies and other insects.

Wildflower meadow at Bradenham

Discover meadows in the Chilterns Countryside

Wildflower meadows were once a common sight in the English landscape, supporting a large range of wild birds and animals, but over the last 80 years, many of our wildflower meadows have disappeared. The National Trust is working hard to protect, conserve and restore the wildflower meadows in our care, and the Chilterns Countryside is amongst the best places to see them.

Chalk grassland at Coombe Hill

Discover Chalk Grassland in the Chilterns Countryside

Up to 40 species of flowering plants can be found in one square metre of chalk grassland, and many species are unique to the habitat, including orchids, gentians, wild candytuft and other wildflowers. In turn, the variety of wildflowers attracts many species of insect, including rare butterflies such as the Adonis Blue and the Duke of Burgundy.

Yellow meadow ant anthills at Coombe Hill

Discover the amazing anthills at Coombe Hill

Chalk grassland is one of our rarest habitats, and a reason why Coombe Hill is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The large bumps on the steep west-facing slope are the nests of the yellow meadow ant; a tiny insect that builds large anthills that provides a diverse range of homes for many of these species of wild flowers and animals.

Silver-washed Fritillary

Discover butterflies in the Chilterns Countryside

There are few more uplifting sights than a kaleidoscope of butterflies flittering amongst the flower heads in a meadow. To see butterflies is more than just heartening, they are also nature’s pointers, telling us that the environment is healthy, and that a host of plants, insects and other animals are also thriving.

Purple emperor butterfly

Purple Emperor butterflies success at Bradenham

The Purple Emperor, one of Britain's most elusive butterflies, has been spotted for the first time at National Trust’s Bradenham estate near West Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. Careful woodland and grassland management by the National Trust’s rangers at Bradenham has made this possible.

Park Wood at Bradenham

Discover beech woodlands in the Chilterns Countryside

The landscape of the Chiltern Hills is surprisingly wooded, and those woodlands are dominated by beech trees. Many parts of the Chilterns have been covered with woodland for hundreds of years, and today the Chilterns are still one of the most wooded parts of England, with over one fifth of the land area covered by trees.

Autumnal tree in the Chilterns countryside

Chilterns Countryside’s autumn colours explained

Autumn in the Chilterns Countryside is when the woodlands and hedgerows reveal a magnificent kaleidoscope of colour. The National Trust sites in the Chilterns offer some of the best places in England to see the golden glow of autumn.

Bluebells at Lower Deans Wood

Discover bluebells in the Chilterns Countryside

There’s nothing more enchanting than stumbling across a vibrant carpet of woodland bluebells. There are many places at Hughenden and in the Chiltern Hills where bluebells flourish and they are at their best between mid-April and late May.

Mistle Thrush

Discover our top ten favourite birds in the Chilterns countryside

The grasslands, woodlands and scrublands in the Chilterns countryside are home to many species of bird. Some are familiar natives, like the robin and the chaffinch, while others are migrant species that overwinter in the Chilterns or are just passing through. How many of our favourite top ten birds can you see?

Wild cherry blossom

Discover spring blossom  

One of the great treats of springtime is to walk among blossoming trees and shrubs as they put on their fragrant floral display. It is one of nature’s show-stoppers; one of the most exquisite delights of the English spring that also provides a valuable source of food for our native wildlife.

Apple blossom

Photographing spring blossom 

One of the most uplifting signs that spring is underway is the sudden appearance of bright, pastel-coloured blossom in hedgerows, parks and gardens. The sight is guaranteed to raise your spirits and to make you want to get out and about with your camera.