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Aston Clinton Ragpits

A wonderful wildlife experience of chalkland flowers including greater butterfly-orchids and thousands of fragrant orchids.

A remarkable place

Tucked away on the edge of Wendover Woods between Aylesbury and Tring, Aston Clinton Ragpits is a remarkable nature reserve. Just three hectares in size and boasting eight species of orchid and over 25 different types of butterfly, this reserve offers a real treat to visitors in spring and summer.

From chalkpit to orchid paradise

The site was once an old chalk pit, worked for its coveted chalk freestone or 'rag' which was used for local building. The reserve has been looked after by BBOWT for over 20 years and due to meticulous management a huge variety of wild flowers, shrubs, butterflies and other animals have colonised the site. Towards the end of June you can enjoy a spectacular display of orchids which includes greater butterfly-orchid, pyramidal orchid and thousands of fragrant orchids with their deep pink, clove-scented flowers. 

Chalk grassland

The chalk ground provides perfect conditions for this profusion of orchids and other wild flowers. As well as the orchids, look out for cowslip, bright blue chalk milkwort, mauve autumn gentian and yellow horseshoe vetch. 

Fabulous butterflies

The reserve's flowers attract an amazing array of butterflies, and some scrubby areas have been fenced off to provide areas for them to roost and reproduce. Species include marbled white, chalkhill blue, brimstone, small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral. 

Sun and rain

While you're admiring the flying beauties, keep an eye out in the sunshine for slow-worms and basking grass snakes. After wet weather the Roman snail can be seen here. It is the largest of the British snails, the size of a golf ball and often white in colour with pale brown bands.

Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve

Alison Beck: "This reserve is very special to me and I have loved it for many years."

Liz Firth: "A magical place. Primroses, cowslips, amazing orchid displays then butterflies on the chalk grassland flowers."

Things to do

Your Aston Clinton Ragpits photographs

Share your photographs of Aston Clinton Ragpits with us! Add them to the BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'astonclintonragpits'.

Nearby nature reserves

Dancersend with Pavis Woods
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Weston Turville Reservoir
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Tring Reservoirs
2 miles - Herts and Middlesex 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

4 1/4 miles south-east of
HP22 5NJ
Map reference
SP 888 107
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Aug
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
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Opening Times
Open at all times
2.50 hectares
Walking information
There is a network of smaller paths that visitors are free to explore. Short, steep slopes; some loose stone; steps. Please keep to the paths to avoid trampling the rare wild flowers.
3/4 mile south of Aston Clinton. Just south-east of B489/B4009 junction. Entrance 50m on left on the unclassified road to St Leonards, park on hard verge.
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.