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Our work at Pepperbox Hill

Looking towards the folly on Pepperbox Hill, Wiltshire
Looking towards the folly on Pepperbox Hill | © Emma Weston

At Pepperbox Hill the rangers are always working to maintain the careful balance between protecting nature and making the land accessible to visitors. We’re privileged to look after diverse habitats, helping them to host a wide range of insects and flowers, as well as the birds that feed on them. Aside from helping nature to thrive, our work also extends to maintaining the site, such as fixing fences or mending stiles.

An important landscape

We work closely with wildlife and conservation advisers, Natural England and the tenant grazier to ensure that all plans support and improve the diversity of species at Pepperbox Hill.

The area is particularly important for its high-quality chalk grassland and mixed-age scrub with a significant population of juniper, as well as regenerating yew.

This combination provides a rich mosaic of habitats and a home for a wide range of fauna, including butterflies.

Conservation grazing at Pepperbox Hill

For the last few years we’ve been working with local farmers to bring Shetland cattle to graze on Pepperbox Hill and Grimstead Down. You might spot them from mid-March to mid-June, and again from early September to late October.

These rare native breed cattle have proven to be the ideal helpers, as they’re happy grazing on plants including hawthorn, blackthorn, dog rose, privet and dogwood, nettles, bramble and even some of the less desirable grasses present. Keeping these plants under control helps to protect and promote many different habitats.

Making a difference

To measure the impact of cattle grazing and our wider work at Pepperbox Hill the team make regular checks, and record key wildlife and plant species. By seeing how well they’re doing we can adjust plans as necessary.

Pepperbox Hill now has regenerating juniper and broadleaf helleborines – better known as orchids – are thriving in the shadier areas. On the verge you’ll also find twayblades and an occasional white helleborine.

A dark green fritillary butterfly at Portstewart Strand
A dark green fritillary butterfly | © National Trust Images/Wilbert McIlmoyle

The habitats created by this conservation system also make it the perfect home for many invertebrates. As well as the more common types of butterfly, there are dark green fritillary and green hairstreak butterflies on this site. In late summer you may even spot a silver-studded blue.

Help us help to them

While the cattle are on site, please always keep your dogs on a lead and under control.

Making Pepperbox Hill enjoyable for everyone

As well as looking after the natural environment, rangers make sure that Pepperbox Hill remains open for visitors, carrying out work such as maintaining pathways, stockproofing fences and ensuring gates and stiles are safe.

The team at Pepperbox Hill also act as a main point of contact for any queries or concerns and can be contacted via email on wiltshire.landscape@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Thank you

With your ongoing support, we're able to continue our vital conservation work. Thank you for helping to protect these special places.

Common spotted orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) at Harewoods, Surrey

Visit Pepperbox Hill

Find out how to get to Pepperbox Hill, the things to see and do and more.

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