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Wildlife and nature

View across Farthing Downs

View across Farthing Downs and New Hill

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.

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.

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

Common spotted orchid

Common spotted orchid on New Hill

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.

​Farthing Downs and New Hill is also well known for it's wide variety of orchid species. The colourful display can be seen in June and includes Bee orchids (Ophrys apifera), Common spotted orchids (Dactylorhiza fuchsii), Man orchids (Orchis anthropophora) or Fly-orchids (Ophrys insectifera).



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.​

13 March 2012
Last Modified:
18 July 2019