The Surrey Hills and surrounding area are the perfect place to walk on the wild side and get in touch with nature.
London Square Tadworth Gardens is in an ideal location, close to the Surrey Hills and backing on to Burgh Heath woods. There are some amazing beauty spots close by for birdwatching, discovering delicate wild flowers, seeing butterflies flit among the flowers and long grasses and finding rare species of insects.
Here are five nature reserves within a three-mile radius of Tadworth Gardens:
Just over two miles from Tadworth Gardens, Priest Hill in Epsom is 35 hectares of land. A new nature reserve has been transformed from abandoned playing fields. Over 1,500 tons of tarmac and rubble were removed from the site. The restoration of bare ground and chalk is now providing a significant habitat for wild flowers, invertebrates and many bird species. The rare small blue butterfly has now been recorded on the reserve. Three ponds have been created to provide wetland habitat. It is open all year round and the best times to visit are from April to October.
This is a working farm just over two miles from Tadworth Gardens in Chipstead. It is open all year round and the best times to visit are from April to September. Forming part of the North Downs, Shabden Park has sweeping views of rolling hills and sheep grazing in valleys. The farm has extensive areas of chalk grassland and an abundance of wildflowers which thrive in this habitat. Wild marjoram, wild basil, spotted St John’s Wort, burnet saxifrage, small scabious and hairy violet are among the flowers to be spotted. The estate also has woodlands where bluebells and primroses flourish. There is also a scarce species of mining bee, the Roesel’s bush-cricket, as well as butterflies, raptors such as sparrowhawks and kestrels and woodland birds such as green woodpeckers, cuckoos and blackcaps.
Just under three miles from Tadworth Gardens, there are five hectares of reserve teeming with wildlife, whose habitat has been established on chalk heaps left from the 1960s from a nearby playing field. Some 260 species of flowering plants have been recorded, including colonies of mouse-eared hawkweed and kidney vetch, and a range of beautiful orchids including bee, common spotted, fragrant, pyramidal and white helleborines. There are around 20 kinds of butterfly, plus common lizards, common toads and common frogs.
Just over three miles from Tadworth Gardens, the 33 hectares of Nower Wood Education Centre is run by the Surrey Wildlife Trust and features classrooms, amenities and beautiful surroundings. The Trust holds regular courses, children’s events and open days at the reserve. The ancient oak woodland is believed to date back to the Domesday Book and is a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. There is a small area of chalk grassland, a heathland glade, a butterfly ride and ponds for pond dipping. Bird species include sparrowhawks, woodcock, woodpeckers and wood warblers. Adders are occasionally seen, while roe deer, badgers and foxes may be spotted.
This 27 hectare reserve is a stunning chalk downland site within the Surrey Hills of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the North Downs. It is best visited during the summer months where several types of orchids can be found, along with horseshoe vetch, the main food of the chalkhill blue butterfly. A variety of bat species have made their home in the former limeworks in the quarry.
For details on access, parking and visiting these reserves, check out www.surreywildlifetrust.org/naturereserves