Largest Ever Conservation Project in the Chilterns is Awarded National Lottery Funding

An ambitious project to restore and enhance the wildlife habitats, landscape features and cultural heritage of the Central Chilterns has been awarded a National Lottery grant of £2.4 million. The Chalk, Cherries & Chairs Landscape Partnership Scheme, spearheaded by the Chilterns Conservation Board will also work to educate and inspire communities to become protectors of their local heritage and landscapes. The Chiltern Society is proud to be a key partner in this exciting initiative and we have been working hard with a range of partnering organisations and community groups over the last two years to help plan the project.

Thanks to National Lottery players the five-year scheme will encourage people to connect and reconnect to the wildlife and cultural heritage of the Central Chilterns through a number of individual but interweaving projects across three key themes: Wildlife & Landscape, Heritage & Landscape and People, Communities & Landscape.

Key aims of the scheme include; protecting declining wildlife; reinvigorating Chilterns Orchards; Solving the Mystery of Grim’s Ditch; Exploring the biodiversity in the headwaters of the Chilterns; Revealing the untold history of the Chilterns’ chair Bodgers.

Supported through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), High Speed Two Ltd through the Community Environment Fund (CEF) and Wycombe District Council through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), the project will leave a lasting legacy of improved conservation and land management, partnership working, skills, volunteers, and engaged and aware communities caring for the future of wildlife and their heritage.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of HLF said: As well as being part of a nationally protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty –, the Central Chilterns has a wealth of heritage stories dating as far back as the Neanderthal hunter-gatherers of the Paleolithic era and continuing right through to the present day. We are thrilled that with money from the National Lottery we are able to fund Chalk, Cherries and Chairs to preserve this important natural heritage for future generations, allowing them to forge stronger connections to the fascinating history of the area, and create their own stories through the scheme.”

Commenting on the award, Kath Daly, Countryside Officer said: “We are absolutely delighted that we have received this support, thanks to National Lottery players. This major partnership will provide opportunities for people to get involved and volunteer; to increase and improve wildlife spaces; and for communities to learn, create and take action for heritage.” 

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New Play Trail at Wendover Woods

In December, our Wendover Woods Volunteer Group helped put the finishing touches to a new play trail and officially opened it alongside the Forestry Commission’s Wendover Woods team!

In partnership with Forestry Commission England, the Society secured funding from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development to develop this exciting and innovative attraction at Wendover Woods – combining a new trail with a variety of play structures and features spaced along the route.

The aim of the trail is to help engage young people with the forest environment and the wider Chilterns landscape. It’s designed to encourage visitors to explore further into the forest – helping young families to explore and gain the confidence to venture deeper and reconnect with the countryside. The features are intended to reflect the local environment. They can be used in a variety of ways, and should appeal to visitors of all ages –parents and older carers will be involved as the children drag them round to find the next feature!

The trail is fully accessible and offers a short loop and a long loop to suit different abilities.

‘The new trail will be a great way for the whole family to experience the woodland together in a fun and creative way and hopefully take visitors to new parts of this wonderful Chilterns site,’ said Gavin Johnson, the Chiltern Society’s Head of Conservation.

‘We’re thrilled with the new play trail and the bespoke play pieces created especially for Wendover Woods. We very much hope visitors enjoy exploring the woods and playing together in the play spaces,’ added Joanne Mason, Beat Forester, Forestry Commission England.

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development: Europe investing in rural areas 

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New Housing Sites to be Identified in Three Rivers

The Chiltern Society responded in December 2018 to a consultation on the choice of housing sites in Three Rivers District for inclusion in the emerging Local Plan. Planning Field Officer, Barbara Paskins, reviewed the plan and visited many of the sites to assess potential impacts on the Green Belt and the Chilterns Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The main area of concern was that the proposals would be likely to take land out of the Green Belt to allow for the Council to meet its housing target. Also, one of the larger sites would be located within the AONB. The Society expressed a preference for using brownfield land to cater for development needs wherever possible, but due to the scale of development required, some greenfield land is likely to be needed. The response includes some general comments on development in the District as well as comments on the impacts on specific sites.

The full response can be read here. 

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PhotoGroup 2019 Exhibition

The PhotoGroup’s Online Photographic Exhibition 2019 has just gone live. The 15th edition comprises an impressive total of 313 images contributed by 31 of our members. You can view the 2019 collection here

Once again the landscape category attracted most contributions, with many images featuring the diversity of the beautiful Chiltern countryside. The flora and fauna category was not far behind with at least half of the images of flowers, birds, butterflies and other insects taken in the Chilterns. Many of the photos were taken by members in their gardens or close to home.

Terry Coffey, an experienced camera club judge within the Chilterns, was again our guest reviewer. He has supplied a valuable critique of many of the images, which can be read here. He especially appreciated a photo of fungi illuminated by a shaft of sunlight taken in Hughenden Woods by Bob Smith. “You make your own luck by diligence don’t you?” he asks, echoing a view that most photographers will identify with.

For the first time, browsers of the 2019 Online Photography Exhibition were invited to choose their most favourite photograph from the 300 images submitted. We found the ‘People’s Favourites’ comprised ten images.  See them here.


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Volunteers get back to work at Whiteleaf

On a cold January morning, a group of volunteers gathered for the first Whiteleaf Hill work party of 2019. Around 20 volunteers turned up ready and eager to work of the excesses from the festive period. The group split into 3 with one group raking up cuttings from last year, another cutting a new area of scrub at the back of the reserve and the third group checking all the nest boxes.

Scrub is cut on a rotational basis and the Chiltern Society is keen to restore as much chalk grassland habitat as possible.  With this in mind, a new area was identified to be cleared which consists of a lot of blackthorn and scrub. Volunteers worked to clear this away to open up the area, and at the next session they will burn the scrub that they have removed. They will continue over the coming months to clear this and we are hopeful that, in time, both flora and fauna chalk grassland species will return to the area.

The bird boxes were checked at the site and cleaned out, making the homes ready for the nesting season in April. There was evidence of glis glis in some of the great tit boxes but the volunteers were hopeful that the birds had fledged before the glis glis made an arrival. Glis glis will move into a birds nest box and build their nests on top of an exiting birds nest using leaf material and are considered a pest in this part of the country.

If you’d like to join our volunteers and help to care for the Chilterns, please email our volunteer coordinator.

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Chief Officer Recruitment

As the Chiltern Society continues to grow and develop, we are looking to recruit a dynamic, forward-looking Chief Officer to manage the small staff and office volunteers and to assist the Trustees in the development and delivery of our ambitious expansion plans.

Our new Chief Officer will support the board of trustees in the execution of their responsibilities including reporting to them on all aspects of the Charity’s performance including finance, people, operational performance, marketing and member recruitment.

This a permanent, full time role based at our Head Office in Chesham.

To view the full job description and person specification, please click here.

Deadline for applications is 31st January 2018.

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Working with Pipers Corner School

A couple of weeks ago, we spent an afternoon with Year 7’s at Pipers Corner School supporting their ‘Changing Chilterns’ topic. Following a talk about the Chilterns from Gavin Johnson, our Head of Conservation, the students were challenged with a variety of tasks including map reading, designing promotional posters for the Chilterns and thinking of challenges facing the Chilterns landscape in the future and possible solutions.

We were very impressed with their level of knowledge and enthusiasm for the Chilterns.

We have been working with Pipers Corner for two years now – the students visiting our Prestwood Local Nature Reserve to carryout fieldwork and also carrying out a litter pick with their families followed by a picnic in the Spring. We plan to make this an annual visit on Earth Day in April.

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The Chiltern Society Announces New Chairman

Having completed his term of six years as Chairman of the Chiltern Society, David Harris has stepped down.

Succeeding David is the current Vice-Chair, Simon Kearey. Simon is a senior manager in NHS Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group and works closely with a number of other local charities.

Simon is looking forward to using both his professional and charitable experience to lead the Chiltern Society as it continues to play its part in issues such as promoting the Chilterns’ rich and varied heritage, dealing with potential boundary reviews and, of course, working to ensure that the environment of our precious AONB and Green Belt is protected as much as possible from unnecessary development.

‘I’ve lived in the Hughenden Valley for 19 years and long admired the Chiltern Society, particularly the work of its volunteers who, it seems to me, are key to its success. Without them I think the
Society would struggle,’ he said. ‘I am really looking forward to helping the Society achieve its aims.’

David’s great experience is not being lost to the Charity as he is to continue as a Trustee and as Vice-Chairman; he is also Chairman of the Rights of Way Group.

David has led the Charity through a changing period which has seen great growth in activity particularly taking over the administration and maintenance of nine heritage and conservation sites.

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South Oxfordshire District Council employees lend a hand at Kingwood Common

On the morning of the 3rd December, employees from the South Oxfordshire District Council met at Kingwood Common, to join Chiltern Society staff and volunteers for a day of volunteering.

It was a miserable, damp December morning, but once the work briefing had been given (under the cover of the gazebo!) the group were split into two groups and set off enthusiastically for work.

Under the watchful eye of Gavin (Head of Conservation), one group worked in Oval Glade clearing gorse, holly and bracken – opening up the overgrown area of grassland. Meanwhile in Butterfly Glade, Matthew (Kingwood site co-ordinator) and our ranger Fiona helped the second group to clear birch saplings, bracken, bramble and rake up leaves from the glades floor.

The group also tried their hands at scything which was used to clear the bracken and brambles. After lunch, the groups joined together and made a combined effort at clearing away all cut arisings and stacking these in two large habitat piles which will benefit the local fauna. The second group also tried scything, and helped to clear the woodland edge of bracken. The result of a day’s work was remarkable and the group never tired of the work or the incessant drizzle from the sky! The Chiltern Society would like to thank the volunteers for such a great days’ work and for helping us to care for Kingwood Common.

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Win a Chilterns Christmas Hamper worth over £400

Following the huge success of last year’s Christmas Hamper competition which raised over £2000, we are offering you the chance to win this year’s even more extravagant hamper in another prize draw.

Once again, we have been thrilled by the generosity of local Chilterns food and drink producers who have donated items for this year’s hamper. We would like to thank them for their continued support.

To enter the prize draw, please click here.  Each entry costs £5.00. All funds raised will help our ongoing work to protect and preserve the Chilterns landscape. 

The lucky winner of the hamper will undoubtedly be thrilled with the wonderful variety of goodies and decadent treats that it contains. Please see below the list of delicacies donated this year and a little background information about each of the local producers who have contributed…

Auberge du Chocolat; 3 bars of chocolate
A unique artisan family business with a passion for chocolate, ice cream and fudge. Anne and Ian Scott have been making chocolate in the Chilterns since 2005. Now based in Chesham and firmly established as a maker of premium luxury chocolate, awards have come flooding in. They also run workshops, parties and corporate events.

Beechwood Fine Foods
;Jar of jam
Beechwood is a farm shop and cafe in Frogmore Street, Tring. One of the star products in their excellent range is their Wild Bramble and Bramley Apple jam, homemade by the shop’s owner Sarah. Their other locally sourced produce includes fresh bread, cakes, hand-raised pork pies and a nice range of cheeses.

Burgers Artisan Bakery; Christmas cake
Burgers is a craft bakery and tearoom in the heart of Marlow. The Burger family have been baking their artisan breads fresh every day and creating their fabulous chocolates since 1942. They have a wide range of delicious loaves which helped them win a Chiltern Society Award for real bread in 2016.

Chess Valley Lamb
;£50 voucher
Chess Valley Lamb is part of Chess Valley Livestock, which was set up by Scott Horton and Paul Jennings in 2012, moving to Raans Farm in Amersham in 2013. They sell their delicious fresh lamb directly to the public and to many local high-end restaurants. Their £50 gift voucher means that the lucky winner of our hamper will have the chance to enjoy some of the best lamb available in our region.

Chiltern Brewery;
 Lord Lieutenant’s Christmas Pudding & 2 bottles of cream porter
Another local business with an enviable nationwide reputation, Chiltern is the oldest independent brewery in the region. A family-run business located on an old working farm at Terrick, the emphasis has always been on producing natural, wholesome beers using the best British malt and hops. Their excellent farm shop features many products made using Chiltern beer.

Chiltern Candle Company;
 Winter Spice scented candle
Inspired by the Chiltern countryside, each candle is individually made using premium soy wax, 100% cotton wicks and a combination of all-natural essential oils that are carefully combined with cosmetic-grade fine fragrance oils. Stylishly presented in locally sourced packaging, each candle is truly unique and will cast an atmospheric light on dark December evenings.

Chiltern Charcuterie
; a selection of cured meats
From their curing kitchen on a small farm in North Dean, Chiltern Charcuterie produces award-winning salamis and air-dried meat products. Made from free-range pork, grass-fed beef and lamb, as well as ethically sourced venison, all their meat is sourced from local independent farms. An award winner at the 2016 Great Taste awards, their charcuterie brings a taste of the continent to the Chilterns.

Chiltern Coffee Company;3 packets of organic ground coffee
Based in Great Kimble, they produce their organic ground coffee from 100% fair-trade Arabica beans roasted so as to achieve optimum flavour. You can buy their products at Peterley Manor, PE Mead & Sons, Jordans village shop and Jolly Brew in Thame.

Chiltern Cold Pressed;
 7 bottles of cold pressed flavoured rapeseed oil
The Mead family has been farming in the Chilterns since 1860. They first made Chiltern Cold Pressed Rapeseed oil at Wilstone Great Farm in 2009 and have since extended the collection to include a range of infused oils, salad dressings, barbecue sauces and mayonnaises. Their oils have won many national food awards and have even featured in an episode of the BBC’s Escape to the Country.

Chiltern Natural Foods
; two packs of mixed flavoured nuts
Based in High Wycombe, Chiltern Natural Foods manufactures hand-roasted, healthy flavoured nuts and seeds and a range of whole grain, no salt, no wheat, low sugar granolas. Their mission is to make premium foods – including many gluten-free products – which are all natural but still taste great.

Chiltern Ridge;
 bottles of apple juice and a bottle of apple cider
‘Pure 100% apple juice with nothing added’ is the credo behind this Chartridge-based, family run business. Their juice is available in many local farm shops, as well as Budgens supermarkets. In addition to producing their own juice, they will press your apples into a delicious pasteurised juice. Their farm shop also sells pork and lamb, and they even have on-site B&B accommodation.

Daws Hill Vineyard;
 Sparkling Apple Cider & a vineyard tour voucher
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a drop of something fizzy, and at Daws Hill Vineyard in Radnage they specialise in making it! Founded in 2004, it now produces a range of brut and rose sparkling wine, and an excellent bottle-fermented sparkling cider. International awards have included a bronze medal, won at the prestigious Effervescents du Monde competition in France.

Dizzy Bee Kitchen
; 2 packets of granola 
Set up 4 years ago by Nicky Halloran, Dizzy Bee Kitchen produces healthy, additive-free granolas packed with nutritious ingredients such as lucuma, pumpkin, sunflower, chia, hemp, seeds, flax seeds, nuts, quinoa, oats and bran. A winner of five Great Taste awards, Nicky still makes all her granola by hand.

Griffiths Brothers Gin Distillery; One bottle of cold distilled gin

A new distillery set up by the two Griffiths brothers in Penn Street. Their aim is to blend modern distilling methods with the craft of producing small batch spirits, using only the highest quality botanicals. They plan to gradually extend the range of different gins on offer.

Gruntled/ Darling Spuds/ Salty Dog
selection of crisps, crackling and popcorn
Based at their Salty Towers HQ in Chesham the Salty Dog company produces exceptionally crunchy hand-cooked crisps. They also make delicious popcorn and flavoured nuts. Gruntled is a sister company of Salty Dog. Their pork crackling is cooked twice to make it lighter than traditional scratchings. It’s also seasoned with completely natural flavours.

Jim and Jules Big Adventure
; 3 jars of chutney
This husband and wife team have been making chutney since 2008. Their ‘big adventure’ began when they needed to raise money to fund their wedding and chose chutney-making because Jim’s parents had a massive apple tree on their farm! Jim and Jules now make a range of chutneys and piccalilli. Their apple chutney is a personal favourite of mine and makes a great glaze for pork.

Laceys Farm Shop
; 1 bottle of cream

Based in Lane End this farm shop has a great range of meat, dairy products and deli items, many of which come from the family farm.

Malt The Brewery
; 6 assorted bottles of ale
Brewing since 2012, this brewery is set in the heart of the Chilterns in Great Missenden. They pride themselves on their use of quality natural ingredients, and traditional brewing methods.

Marlow Cheese Company
; 1 Bucks Blue, 1 Cygnet cheese and a packet of Cygnet Bites cheese biscuits
Reputed to be Buckinghamshire’s first ever cheese maker, Marlow Cheese was launched in 2016. Cygnet, Bucks Blue and Regatta are their flagship products, all made using delicious whole milk from Lacey’s Dairy. Now on sale at many leading farm shops including Peterley Manor, and at Rebellion Brewery, Marlow Cheese has even been spotted on the menu at Michelin-starred local restaurant, The Hand and Flowers.

Nettlebed Creamery
; 1 bottle of Kefir organic milk and 1 organic soft cheese
Nettlebed Creamery makes Bix and St Bartholomew cheeses using milk from Merrimoles Farm. A fully organic operation since 2001, the farm’s fortunate cows graze on grass and clover leys enhanced with herbs such as chicory, plantain and yarrow. The end product is so good that last year specialist cheese website named Bix cheese as one of the best five new cheeses in the UK.

Pendley Manor Hotel; Afternoon Tea Voucher
This lovely country hotel is set in wooded parkland near Tring. Their traditional afternoon tea is served in the Peacock Lounge or the Verney Room where you can enjoy views over the landscaped lawns whilst partaking of dainty sandwiches and cakes washed down with a pot of quality tea.

Rebellion Brewery;
 5 bottles of ale and a Rebellion beer glass
This highly successful brewery was established in 1993 to ensure the continuation of traditional brewing in Marlow after the closure of Wethereds. Since then, Rebellion has gone from strength to strength. Their ales are widely available in many local pubs and in their own brewery shop. They won a Chiltern Society Award for Best Craft Beer in 2017.

Rumseys Chocolaterie; An assortment of chocolate

Master chocolatier, Nigel Rumsey has been making delicious artisan chocolate since 1991. He owns two delightful chocolaterie/cafes in Wendover and Thame. In the Wendover café you can see the expert chocolatiers hand-creating the chocolates!

Tring Brewery
;  3 Bottles of assorted ales
Tring Brewery has been making beer for 25 years. Now established at Dunsley Farm, they’re well known for their unusually named beers which all have strong connections with Chiltern events, myths and legends. Their beers are available from the brewery shop and many good local pubs. Their quality was recognised by the Chiltern Society when they were crowned the overall winners of our Craft Beer Award in 2017.


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