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Variety is the spice of this wonderfully mixed reserve which nestles within two sheltered valleys deep in the Chilterns. Dancersend, once owned by the Rothschild family, has been a nature reserve since the 1940s.

Woodland haven

Greater Spotted Woodpecker by Rosalind White Photography

Dancersend's different types of woodland habitats reflect a complex history. Most of its original woodlands were felled during the Second World War, but in the 1950s, two large woods were replanted with mixed woodland including beech, ash, cherry and oak.  Today, the delicate fly orchid flowers here.

The sounds of birds

The woodlands are home to many birds.  Listen out for the drumming of the great spotted woodpecker and the 'yaffle' of the green woodpecker.  Tawny owls can be heard hooting in the trees.  You can also find a number of old woodland plants including the white hanging bells of Solomon's-seal.

Chalk specialities

This Chilterns reserve contains large areas of the chalk grassland habitat, typical of these hills. They are home to a variety of orchids, as well as the delicate local speciality, the Chiltern gentian. The nationally scarce meadow clary, once a common sight here, has been reintroduced from the seed of one surviving plant. The chalk grassland flowers attract a range of butterflies including marbled white, ringlet and meadow brown.

Seasonal wildlife

The unusual winter-flowering stinking hellebore provides a welcome dash of early colour.  In spring, there are carpets of bluebells in the woodlands.  At the clearings and woodland edges, pretty primroses and cowslips flourish. In summer, these sheltered sites encourage rare butterflies such as the Duke of Burgundy and the grizzled skipper. Autumn brings a large number of fungi, including the amazing collared earthstar whose outer layer splits and folds backward into a star-shaped pattern.

Get involved

  • Try our circular Wildlife Walk (1/2 mile).  Just follow the badger waymarkers.
  • Explore the reserve and surrounding area with our Tring Park Wild Walk. Starting in Tring this 10km circular walk takes in Dancersend nature reserve and the Ridgeway National Trail. OS Explorer Map 181, 1:25,000 scale, covers the route of this walk.
  • Look out for our seasonal guided walks.
  • We run regular work parties on the reserve.
  • Help us manage this reserve by supporting us
  • Tweet your wildlife sightings to @bbowt
  • Sign up to our e-newsletter

Download the site risk assessment.

Your photographs of Dancersend

Share your Dancersend photographs with us! Add them to our Flickr group, and tag them with 'Dancersend'.

Nearby nature reserves

Aston Clinton Ragpits
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Tring Reservoirs
3 miles - Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust
Weston Turville Reservoir
3 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Please join your local wildlife trust today

Reserve information

5 miles south-east of
HP23 6LB
Map reference
SP 8994 0935
Great for...
getting away from it all
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
Open at all times
47.00 hectares
Walking information
Variable, gentle slopes, bumpy in places; gates; benches
From Aylesbury, head east on A41; take right turn (B4009) signposted to Wendover and immediate left for Dancersend; after 1 mile turn right at T-junction; park in lay-by after 300m on left; or continue for a further 3/4 miles to park at waterworks; or park at Wendover Woods on the Wendover-St Leonards road
Dogs must be on lead
Grazing animals
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01442 826774

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.