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Wildlife and nature

Skylark on Farthing Downs

​Skylark on Farthing Downs

Farthing Downs & New Hill is a semi-natural environment characteristic of the North Downs. The flora and fauna found here results from the physical features, climate, and past and current land use. It is a mosaic of chalk grassland, neutral pasture and scrub, with ancient and secondary woodland on its margins.

Together with neighbouring Happy Valley, Farthing Downs supports the most extensive area of semi-natural downland remaining in Greater London.

Farthing Downs is an important site for breeding birds, primarily "downland"species such as skylark, meadow pipit and tree pipit; warblers including whitethroat, lesser whitethroat and garden warbler; finches and buntings such as linnet, bullfinch, yellowhammer and reed bunting.​

Round headed rampion

​Round-headed rampion

The site is of particular interest for its species-rich chalk and neutral grasslands. These habitats support a variety of warmth-loving flowers and their dependent insects, including some nationally scarce plants, such as greater yellow rattle, Rhinanthus angustifolius, and those of restricted distribution in the county such as round-headed rampion, Phyteuma orbiculare.

View across to New Hill from Farthing Downs

​View across to New Hill from Farthing Downs​

The acquisition of New Hill brought us a partly overgrown field of chalk grassland. Some areas were cleared of scrub and subsequently grazed with sheep. Early indications are that the abundance of chalk-loving plants is increasing.

New Hill also contains some remnant ancient woodland and has the potential to be a very exciting link between chalk grassland, chalk scrub and ancient woodland.​

13 March 2012
Last Modified:
29 September 2017