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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Scrub Clearance at Bottom Wood

Last week our rangers and volunteers spent a day clearing scrub from an area of Bottom Wood that will be replanted to create a new Hazel coppice.

Once cleared this area will be planted with Hazel and managed as coppice to link up with existing coppice areas to create a more continuous habitat. This continuity of habitat is vital in supporting a range of species and in particular the Hazel Dormouse which likes these larger are of continuous Hazel coppice.

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Annual visit to Studham Common

Earlier this month the Wendover Woods Volunteers made their annual visit to Studham Common in the North Chilterns. The Wendover team have been supporting the work of the Friends of Studham Common for over 5 years now and it is always a hugely popular event in the calendar for the volunteers.

Studham Common’s unusual combination of clay soil overlying chalk supports an interesting variety of plants which offers a refuge for a diversity of habitats and supports a wealth of insects, birds and small mammals – 200 plant species, 26 species of butterfly and over 20 species of birds – including Skylarks and Hazel Dormice. The Common’s eastern boundary is an ancient hedgerow dating back to medieval times and is a breeding site for the Hazel dormouse. 25 of our volunteers carried out work to help maintain and enhance this habitat by clearing scrub and removing old growth from the ancient hedgerow. They worked so hard that they also managed to move to another area to clear Blackthorn from encroaching on the open grassland areas.

After the mornings hard work they were rewarded with the legendary Friends of Studham Common lunch – a variety of delicious soups washed down with cakes and wine – no doubt everyone will be back next year!

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Working at Whiteleaf with BBOWT

On the 2nd October, our head of conservation Gavin and our ranger Fiona were joined by BBOWT at our Whiteleaf reserve to clear some areas of scrub. BBOWT brought along their alpine tractor which was used to cut a large section of scrub from an area on the hillside.

This was the first time we have been able to use this machinery at Whiteleaf, and we are hoping that this will help us to make a greater impact on the amount of scrub we can clear in the year. It is important to keep scrub down to a minimum on the grassland areas; if left to grow the scrub will outcompete the chalk grassland plants that are so important to the reserve and the Chilterns.  We also had four brush-cutters in use, clearing areas of dogwood and other scrub from the steep hillside banks. We are grateful to BBOWT for their time in helping make a positive start early on in the season.

Our regular volunteer group of volunteers at Whiteleaf went out later in the week to rake the areas that we had cut and our volunteers will continue to cut back the scrub and burn the arisings during the Autumn and Winter months. We are hopeful that by repeating this type of habitat management over time that there will be a reduction in scrub and more grassland plants will flourish, which in turn will provide a great variety of fauna too.

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Could you help our Rights of Way Group?

Do you enjoy being out and about in the countryside? If so, you may like the idea of playing an interesting and satisfying role in helping to preserve and improve the existing network of footpaths and bridleways in the Chilterns.

We currently have Area Secretary vacancies that we urgently need to fill in three important areas of the Chilterns:

  • The first covers the parishes of Chartridge, Cholesbury cum St. Leonards, Great Missenden, Little Missenden, Penn and The Lee.
  • The second covers Bledlow cum Saunderton, Downley, Hughenden, Piddington and Wheeler End, Radnage, Stokenchurch and West Wycombe.
  • The third covers Eaton Bray, Kensworth, Studham, Totternhoe, Whipsnade

The role of Area Secretaries has three main elements:

  1. representing the Chiltern Society’s interest in successful development of the local path network. This means considering and responding to all proposals from Local Authorities for change to the network and, wherever possible, putting forward proposals of their own to improve it.
  2. deploying a group of Path Representatives to carry out regular monitoring of paths and report any problem they find with their condition or waymarking.
  3. on receiving those reports to arrange appropriate follow up action with a view to remedying the problems found.

These roles offer every opportunity to get out and about in the countryside and to liaise about path issues with other Area Secretaries, Local Authority Officers, and sometimes members of the public. Previous experience is not important.

Area Secretaries are invited to four liaison meetings a year with other ROWG Committee members.

What’s in it for you? The satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping to sustain and improve a path network offering enormous opportunity to all those who appreciate the countryside; and working with a group of like-minded individuals in a growing team of Chiltern Society volunteers.

If you’d like to know more, please contact Brian Lawson on 01494 815814.

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Planning Campaign Leader Required

Are you passionate about protecting the Chilterns as a unique and special place to live? Do you have the drive and commitment to lead a successful campaign to influence local and national government?

Our Planning Group urgently needs a Campaign Leader to step up our campaign to prevent unsustainable development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty and Green Belt. You’ll be used to working in a volunteering role, and how to work with other volunteers to achieve results.

We’re looking for someone, maybe from a marketing background, with skills and experience in leadership, communication and management of diverse stakeholders to help influence senior levels of local and national government. There is no need for detailed knowledge of planning regulations, as you will have support from experts in our Planning Group. You’ll have an understanding of how government operates at different levels and how to collaborate with other like-minded organisations.

The role needs to drive out tangible results from our already publicised Planning Manifesto. This safeguards the AONB, protects the Green Belt, overhauls the methods for calculating housing need, scales infrastructure, favours brownfield and infill usage, and promotes good building design. The Chiltern Society supports the needs of local businesses and affordable housing for local people.

This is a fantastic opportunity to lead an exciting campaign that is of great value to the Chilterns.

To discuss more about how you could fit this role please email our Volunteer Coordinator or call 07756 070382.

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Best Brunch in the Chilterns – Winners Announced!

We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2018 Food & Drink Award which this year has focussed on brunch- our new favourite mealtime!

Earlier this year we asked the public to nominate their favourite brunch spots in the Chilterns, tell us why they enjoyed eating there and let us know their favourite menu options.

Over twenty independent eateries were nominated from across the Chilterns- a fantastic response!  Our judges got to work and had the difficult job of  creating a short list and then visiting the finalists to taste the menu for themselves. The standard was exceptionally high, so it was a close-fought contest.

We are thrilled to announce that, after much deliberation, the following three businesses have come out on top:

The South Chilterns winner is Pierreponts of Goring-on-Thames where our judges loved the high quality food, nice range of menu options, pleasant and efficient service and attractive relaxing surroundings.

The Central Area winner is the wonderful Wild Strawberry Café in the Yurt at Peterley Manor Farm with its unusual cosy feel, food that really goes the extra mile and so many tempting choices on the menu.

The North Chilterns & overall winner is I Love Food in Berkhamsted – a fantastic Sicilian café with delicious, beautifully presented food and really professional yet friendly service. Our judges loved the Full English breakfast with a Sicilian twist and thoroughly enjoyed their visit.

The presentation to these three outstanding Chiltern brunch spots will take place in October.

The Food & Drink Awards are kindly sponsored by NFU Mutual.

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