Reserve Location

The reserve is situated to the west side of Holtspur Top Lane Beaconsfield and can be reached by going down the footpath B33 opposite Cherry Tree Road or by going along Riding Lane to the five barred gate on the left just before the right hand bend.

See map

Holtspur Bank is an area of chalk grassland and ancient woodland which was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1995.

The Reserve is owned by Beaconsfield Town Council, as is the other side of the valley which is leased to and managed by Butterfly Conservation.  It can be accessed at all times, though it is best if people keep to the paths and keep dogs under control.

We are very fortunate to have such a beautiful area on our doorstep as so much of this sort of countryside has been lost in the last fifty years. The reserve lies on the north eastern slope of the Beaconsfield gravel plateau and consists of chalk grassland at the eastern end and woodland to the west.  The two habitats are separated by an ancient woodland boundary bank.

In the woodland called ‘Cut Throat Wood’ the trees at the top of the slope on the gravelly soil are mainly oak with honeysuckle and bramble beneath.  Old coppiced hazels and whitebeam grow on the chalk lower slopes and many interesting members of the orchid family can be  found among the trees during the spring and summer. 

The Nature reserve is managed by the town council with support from our group

'The Friends of Holtspur Bank (LNR)' (LocalNature Reserve).

The Friends Group carry out conservation work such as path and scrub clearance, hazel coppicing, and raise funds for various projects on the reserve.  They also organise walks during the Spring, Summmer and Autumn, which are lead by qualified guides and produce a regular newsletter giving details of their activities and future events.  The Council hire contractors for necessary major work.

'The Friends of Holtspur Bank'

This local group consists of people of all ages, who have a strong interest in conservation. Membership costs just £4 per year for the whole household. If you feel you could not volunteer for work parties, don't be put off from joining. Many of our members support us by their subscription alone, and for various reasons don't get involved in any of the work.



Autumn 2017

From Shirley

This is the first year that I have not been able to go on any of the summer walks on the reserve.  While it was very frustrating for me ( and made me realise my age) we are very lucky to have such knowledgable people to lead our walks as is shown by the reports below.

On the 14th May Dr Brenda Harold led our spring walk when the cowslips were at their best and an absolute picture.
The next event was the glowworm hunt which Ian Ridley describes below.
On Friday 7th. July approximately 40 people, a good number of them youngsters, met at 9:15 pm outside the Scout Hut for our evening “Bat walk and Glow Worm hunt”. It was a lovely mild evening with very little wind - ideal conditions for this event.
9:30, we moved across Holtspur Top Lane and down footpath B33 to the top of the first field area, which is not part of the reserve, and waited for the bats to appear in their usual place. We were not disappointed, and as it got darker we had them swooping over our heads. We had distributed a dozen or so ultra sound bat detectors among the group, and these were tuned to the frequency of 45 kHz used by these pipistrelle bats. This allowed us to both see and hear them as they emerged and set off on their night time feeding flights. The bat detectors were kindly loaned to us by John Shaw of the “Chiltern Rangers”
As the bat activity reduced we all moved down onto the chalk bank area of the reserve to look for glow worms. Surprisingly, we had only just arrived when one was spotted glowing brightly. Everyone was then able to move in close, with care, for a good look. After this we continued our walk on the path which circles the chalk bank. Derek Bourne then gathered us together in a suitable place to give us a little talk on glow worms. We then continued our walk and found two more individuals. The last discovery was particularly interesting as the female glow worm was being mated.

It was getting on for 11 o’clock and quite dark by the time everyone left saying what a wonderful experience the whole event had been.

For more information on the Bats and Glow Worms visit our website at


D erek Bourne led the summer walk on 16th July and sent the account below.
A cloudy but warm afternoon saw our group of nine knowledgeable participants assemble for the walk. On entering the Reserve we were greeted by a wonderful display of flowers on the chalk bank including marjoram, knapweed and greater knapweed, scabious, hawksbeard and wild parsnip.  Below these taller species like flowering thyme covered some of the anthills and birdsfoot trefoil, wild basil, milkwort, yellow-wort, centaury and yellow rattle were present in different parts of the grassland. Despite the clouds there were quite a lot of butterflies on the wing especially ringlets and meadow browns.  Others were disturbed while walking through the grass including marbled whites, gatekeepers, commas and a brimstone.

As expected at this time of year, the wooded area was of more muted interest but there was evidence of another good year for berries and nuts with plenty of acorns holly and hazel. A surprise discovery was a second site for the white helleborine orchid which, up to this year, had not been seen on the Reserve for a very long time. Welcome too was the finding of some narrow lipped helleborines which had not been seen for three years.  At the far end of the wood where scrub had been removed and hazel coppiced it could be seen how quickly regrowth had taken place. In this area amongst the wood piles we were lucky to see a female stag beetle crossing the path.

As we made our way back along the bottom of the chalk bank we came to an area where there were hundreds of pyramidal orchids. It has been a good year for these orchids and they are present throughout the grassland but in this area they have been especially prolific. Over the winter our working parties have removed much of the scrub in this area and  so they can be seen in all their glory even though at the time of our visit they were a little past their best.  The display made a fitting end to our walk

Thank you for the vivid accounts you have given of all that can be seen on the reserve.
Finally, as there won’t be another newsletter until just before Christmas, I would like to point out that our AGM will be held on 8th November and that we are lucky to have John Tyler again who will give a talk on “The changing wild life of the Chilterns” with special emphasis on chalk grassland.  We hope to see you all  there.



Work Parties in 2017 - meet at the Riding Lane entrance at 10:00 am.


The work to be carried out at Friends work parties will be decided according to requirements

and in conjunction with work carried out for the Town Council by John Shaw and the Chiltern Rangers CIC.

Friends Work parties started again the last Sunday in September 2017

To join the friends group call Ian Ridley our secretary on 01494 674944 and request an application form.

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