Know before you go
Parking informationTake A4155 west from Marlow; turn right at Dog and Badger pub; at T-junction turn right, then immediately left. The car park (4/5 cars only) is 500 m on left at bottom of hill. Park by forest entrance without blocking gate! Nature reserve is 50 m on right
Undulating; gentle slope, firm paths; gates and hurdles
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitMarch to August
About the reserve
Woodland and grassland have existed on this warm slope for at least 200 years, though forestry work has created many changes. The reserve is made up of beech, ash, sycamore and whitebeam with glades and open grassland.
Wild orchids flourish in both the woodland and the grassland here. Some grow in the shady woodland, while others prefer the bright sunshine of the open grassland areas or woodland edge. Species include the handsome military orchid, rare in the UK, which grows on the scrubby grassland here. Its dense spikes of pinkish-violet flowers have petals and sepals folded in such a way that they resemble a knight's helmet. The distinctive lower petal is shaped like a human form with 'arms' and 'legs' and the spots resemble buttons on a jacket. Although widespread in Europe, the military orchid is rare in Britain, flowering in late May and early June and is found on only three sites in the UK.
Butterflies, bees and moths
The rich variety of wild flowers that grow here attract butterflies such as the marbled white, white-letter hairstreak and the silver-washed fritillary. A variety of bees also find nectar in the flowers, and over 400 species of moth have been recorded, including blotched emerald and striped lychnis.
Birds and mammals
Resident and visiting species of birds include chiffchaff, cuckoo and blackcap. Tawny owls can often by heard calling during the day. Fallow and roe deer are also regular visitors to the reserve.