The AGM of the Friends will take place on November 7th in the Council Hall, Beaconsfield at 8:00 pm.
After a very short business part of the AGM, there will be a talk by Martin Harvey of Butterfly Conservation

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)' (Local Nature 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 cannot 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 on the Reserve.


Newsletter No. 74 August 2018

    News from the Reserve

From Shirley 

After the last work party of the season we took the opportunity to have a farewell party for Ian Ridley who after being secretary - treasurer - IT expert since the formation of the Friends in 1995 had decided to retire. Shirley Tuckley, who designed our logo, created a wonderful thank you card which we gave to Ian along with a bottle of wine. Of course, we won’t be saying goodbye completely as you will realise as you read this newsletter.

The Friends had a stall at the Beaconsfield Now event and were able to make the reserve known to more people in the town and increase our membership. 

Spring Walk 20th May with Derek Bourne

On a lovely sunny afternoon, we started the walk at the top of the chalk bank. As a result of the variable weather, the visit coincided with a lull between the spring flowers and the start of the summer ones. However, signs of the wonderful display of cowslips was evident in the many seed-heads poking through the grass. Further investigation identified the flowers of cucumber scented salad - burnet and the blue of milkwort, the latter of which was unusually vigorous, forming extensive patches. Quaking grass and bulbous buttercup were also flowering. Just before entering the woodland area a number of white helleborines were found, a species which had only reappeared last year. In the wood, woodruff, sanicle and wood spurge were all seen, as were many hollies in flower. A lot of the trees were female which augurs well for a good crop at Christmas. Another tree flowering well was the beech suggesting a possible “mast year”. Coralroot was over but the bulbils in the axils of the leaves could still be seen. The early purple orchids were over but, in the same area, more white helleborines and a single twayblade were found. On the way back, hog weed and sow thistle were colonising scrubland. Despite the sunny weather, there were few insects apart from bumblebees and a few brimstone butterflies, nevertheless the walk still managed to show the great diversity of our lovely reserve. 

Derek Bourne

Holtspur summer walk 15th July with Dr Brenda Harold

Despite the hot weather and the Wimbledon finals, 8 people came on the summer walk on 15th July. Many of the flowers that we would normally see had finished due to the heat wave, but there was a splendid show of some of the large, late flowering species; Greater Knapweed, Wild Parsnip and Field Scabious. We also investigated some of the tricky “look-alikes”- the very attractive white umbels Wild Carrot, upright Hedge-parsley and Burnet saxifrage are indistinguishable unless you look closely. We also tackled the most confusing yellow dandelion things. We ticked off Smooth Hawk’s beard, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Rough hawkbit, among others (with equally crazy names). I had brought along some hand lenses so that we could all see the fine details, which are so important for identification.

Then Derek Bourne took us into Cut Throat Wood where we saw the large fruiting bodies of White and Broad-leaved helleborines and the rare Narrow – lipped Helleborine

Brenda Harold

In June, Jim Wills took the Beaconsfield U3A Science Group round the reserve which was much appreciated by all.

Bat walk & Glow worm Hunt 6th July 2018 with Ian Ridley

It was a very warm and clear evening when 10 adults and one youngster assembled at the end of Cherry Tree Road to go on the Bat and Glow worm hunt. Even before going on the reserve the bats started to appear. Everyone had been given a bat detector and set it up to 45 kHz, this being the frequency used for echo location by the Pipistrelle bat which is the smallest and most common bat in this country. As we waited, more bats swooped over causing much excitement as well as noise from our bat detectors. We then set off down the field and onto the reserve. It was nearly 10.00pm and the bats were still sweeping overhead. Derek gathered us near the top of the reserve field to explain some important facts about glow worms especially that they are beetles not worms and we then set off on a circular tour of the bank. We were delighted to spot the first one quite soon and then to count another eight. On the second circuit another two were seen making it a great improvement on last year when we could only see one! In many cases males were seen near to females which were deep down in the grass meaning that they had probably only recently mated.

Ian Ridley 

Report from Chiltern Rangers CIC.

From November 2017 through to February this year we had four sessions at Holtspur Bank. Alongside the Rangers on site we had nearly 70 volunteers delivering over 300 hours of time in total. As well as working with our regular volunteers and Friends of Holtspur Bank we had a group of students from the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy in Amersham and a team from SSE. Many of the latter group had joined us on previous sessions and were really interested in seeing how their work had benefitted the site, in particular, the newly created glades and clearings in the woodland which have enhanced the habitat for the Early Purple Orchids. As well as carrying out work in the wooded area we continued developing the chalk grassland, thinning some of the trees along the boundaries and brush cutting, regenerating scrub to improve the conditions for ground flora and pollinating insects. We also had couple of very well-received bonfires around which we could drink a cup of tea!

Chiltern Rangers staff and volunteers always welcome the chance to work at Holtspur. As well as helping the Friends Group to manage the site, it allows us to work in a beautiful area alongside committed people who really value their ‘local patch’.  We are very much looking forward to more days on the site in the coming Winter.    

John Taylor

As I said in the last newsletter I cannot take part in much of the work on the reserve – I do edit the newsletter though and, as the accounts given here show, we are fortunate to have such talented and willing volunteers.


                        Work Parties in 2018 - 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.

To join the friends group call Pauline Knapp our Membership Secretary on 01494 680185 and request an application form.

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