History and wildlife at Lockeridge Dene and Piggledene
Lockeridge Dene and Piggledene are made up of two sheltered valleys dotted with streams of sarsen stones. These sandstone blocks aren’t only important to geologists and archaeologists, they’re also significant for the lichens and mosses that call them home. In fact, the whole landscape is now a protected haven for flowers, grassland insects and the birds that eat them, just waiting to be explored.
The sarsen stones
Lichen-rich sarsen stones litter the landscape at Lockeridge Dene and Piggledene. Also known to some as ‘Grey Wethers’, these sandstone blocks are a geological feature that also have a long history, stretching back millions of years.
These types of stones were used to build structures in the Neolithic and Bronze Age and were still being used as building materials up until the National Trust gained the area in 1908. In fact, many local buildings are made of sarsen.
White Park cows
For part of the year, White Park cattle make Lockeridge Dene their home. With their distinctive white coats and impressive horns, this rare breed of cow is perfectly suited to the valleys' chalk grassland and wood pasture, and by grazing they’re actually conserving the area.
This method of cow conservation is surprisingly effective, as the cattle prevent the development of scrub and what’s called rank vegetation, such as nettles and brambles. This allows natural chalkland species to thrive, including birds foot trefoil, knapweed and fragrant orchids.
Please do not approach the cattle as they can be dangerous if they feel that they or their calves are threatened.
Explore Lockeridge Dene and Piggledene on foot
Why not pack a flask and some sandwiches and spend a day walking and embracing everything Lockridge Dene and Piggledene have to offer? There’s a good chance that your only company will be the birds and insects who thrive here.
Lockeridge Dene walking trail
An adventurous 9km (5.6 mile) walk that gives a real sense of accomplishment. Following the Wansdyke embankment for part of the route, the walk takes in beech woodland and a valley filled with sarsen boulders and offering sweeping views over the surrounding downland.
At 11.2km (7 miles), this walk is a little more challenging but has something for everyone – part of the iconic national trail, fields strewn with sarsen boulders, ancient barrows and monuments as well as quaint villages.