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Latest news from the Chilterns AONB

In this Issue

Top image: Ivinghoe Beacon. Credit: Steph Horn

Green spaces dark skies: 600 people gathered at Dunstable Downs to create a stunning artwork at dusk

Hundreds of local residents flocked to Dunstable Downs for a picnic with music, dance and kite-making to create a stunning artwork with lights at dusk.

Green Space Dark Skies led by Walk the Plank, worked with local partners and artists to create a magical music and dance celebration of the beauty of Dunstable Downs in The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). This immense gathering brought together local community groups, many of whom had never visited the Downs before to enjoy the green space and dark skies.

Read more

Nature recovery, climate change mitigation and access projects: discover some of the amazing work carried out by our farmers in Protected Landscapes.

The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is a year old and to share and inspire other farmers, National Parks England has produced a case study of some of fantastic work that has already taken place.

From nature trails, meadow restoration and milk making facilities, to orchard creation, a curlew breeding programme and a local wool production facility; farmers up and down the country are carrying out some amazing projects that will support nature, climate, people and landscapes.

Making your own Farming in Protected Landscapes application is straight forward and our team are on hand to provide advice at every step. Visit our website for more information.
Read the case studies

"Chalk Streams First" coalition puts forward proposals to cease or reduce abstraction from the Colne and Lea chalk streams

A coalition of conservation and river organisations is working to tackle a major threat to our chalk streams in the Chilterns: groundwater abstraction for our water supply. 

Launched in October 2020, Chalk Streams First (CSF) proposes a reduction in groundwater abstraction that would enable a flow recovery of approximately 80% in the Chiltern chalk streams.  A planned pipeline scheme, “Supply 2040”, which already forms part of Affinity Water’s long term plans, could move the water from the lower Thames to homes and businesses in the Chilterns formerly supplied by the chalk aquifer.  

The proposal would effectively restore chalk streams flows and improve their resilience to climate change, protecting the delicate ecology of the streams, whilst ensuring the resilience of public water supply.
Read more

Education on the Bulbourne: Berkhamstead school service day

Every year, Berkhamsted school take part in a “service day” and this year they decided that they would like to look after the river that flows through their grounds. Laura Silverstone, Education & Engagement Officer for the Chalk Streams & Wetland Meadows Project, visited the school and explained the importance of the River Bulbourne, chalk streams and what we can do to help them. 

For the service day, the team set up three activities; litter picking, watercress growth clearance and river fly monitoring; looking for key species to incidate the water quality.  The group got really stuck in and made some fantastic progress. The central part of the channel is now clear of watercress and as a result the sediment that had built-up has started to shift, revealing some of the channel bed. The river fly monitoring team found numerous freshwater shrimps, caddis fly larvae and a surprise minow!

The school were very happy with the day and we hope that it will mark the beginning of an ongoing link between the Bartrum House at Berkhamsted school and the Bulbourne. 

New immersive experiences in the Chilterns

Have you seen our new collection of immersive countryside experiences?  There are so many fantastic activities to choose, from active countryside, food & drink, countryside learning and sightseeing. Check out our recently added experiences too, including the new Electric Life Cycling, Nature Kicks and Magpies and Butterflies. All are bookable online!
Find your perfect experience

The Heart of the Chilterns: Volunteer Champions #2. Nigel Rothwell, LiDAR Interpreter, Beacons of the Past

The second installment in our new volunteer focussed blog series comes from Nigel Rothwell. Nigel has been volunteering for the ‘Beacons of the Past project’, joining a team of more than 1000 volunteers in a quest to find previously uncovered hillfort archaeology and other historical features in the Chilterns. The project commissioned the largest ever LiDAR surveys ever flown for archaeology in this country, and one of the largest in the world.
LiDAR is a plane-mounted laser scanning technique that enables archaeologists to discover features hidden under vegetation. Volunteers joined in with an effort to identify, record, and interpret the data from the survey.
Read Nigel's story

Top summer walks for families to try

With the summer holidays in full swing, why not get the kids outdoors and into the countryside to experience some of the best the Chilterns has to offer. Here are two fabulous walks to try with your little ones - completely free and bags of fun for all the family.

Chesham riverside and woodland walk

A Walkers Welcome town on its own branch of the Metropolitan Line, Chesham is an ideal start point for walks out into the pretty Chess Valley and rolling Chiltern hills. The pedestrianised High Street provides cafés and coffee stops galore.  

Why not combine your walk with: 

  • Exploring Chesham town centre and nearby Lowndes Park, kids will love feeding the ducks.  
  • The Local produce market in the Market Square on the fourth Saturday of each month 


West Wycombe Woodland walk 

This lovely, tiny, one-street medieval village of West Wycombe is a real Chilterns gem. Adjacent to the neo-classical landscaped West Wycombe gardens, cobbled coaching inns archways and the sweetest of traditional sweet shops, West Wycombe villages sits above a network of chalk caves renowned for debauchery and mysterious rituals led by Sir Francis Dashwood and his 18th century Hell-Fire Club.

Why not combine your walk with exploring West Wycombe park (for beautiful walks around the lake, lots of follies and grottos kids will love) or take a trip to the Hellfire caves


Five lovely family days out in the Chilterns

Our friends over at Muddy Stiletto's in Bucks and Oxon have come up with some ideas for more gentle days out with the kids in the Chilterns over summer. Head over to their website to for some inspiration.
Discover family days out

We're hiring! Check out our latest vacancies and tender opportunities

Citizen Science Co-ordinator – River Chess Smarter Water Catchment Initiative

This is great opportunity to join a committed and friendly team making a positive difference to the chalk streams and landscapes of the Chilterns.

The successful postholder will work across the Chess catchment and the Chilterns AONB to co-ordinate volunteer Citizen Science activities, to build strong and trusted relationships with Citizen Scientists, and to encourage, support and facilitate collaborative investigations.

 >> Read the job description

Tenders and contracts 

SSSI chalk grassland scrub clearance near Great Kimble

We are seeking a contractor to carry out extensive scrub clearance on a chalk grassland SSSI in support of a wider restoration project. The work will be funded by higher tier Countryside Stewardship (subject to a successful application) and must be delivered by March 31st 2024.

>> Download the tender

Scheduled Monument restoration project near Great Kimble

We are seeking a contractor to carry out an exciting restoration of a scheduled monument. The contract involves restoration to ground conditions as well as a desk based assessment and Geophysical survey of the site. The work will be funded by higher tier Countryside Stewardship (subject to a successful application) and must be delivered by March 31st 2024. 

>> Download the tender

What's on...

14th August: Guided walk along the River Misbourne Tickets, Sun 14 Aug 2022 at 10:30 | Eventbrite
21st August: Historical walk along the River Ver Tickets, Sun 21 Aug 2022 at 10:30 | Eventbrite 
24th September: River Chess Volunteer Taster Day Tickets, Sat 24 Sep 2022 at 10:00 | Eventbrite 
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