Colley Hill in readiness for Spring
At this time of year, especially in dull and wet weather (like today), the top of Colley Hill is not a particularly inviting place. Although on chalk, this high ground above Reigate gets very wet and muddy after a lot of rain, which makes walking on the steep slope reminiscent of taking part in a particularly sadistic obstacle course. In a few weeks time this slope will be covered in violets, then milkwort, and beyond that home to various orchids, butterflies (including Silver-spotted Skippers) and who-knows what else. It might be uninviting at the moment, but it will come into its own very shortly.
The images above show off the work that has been done (and still is being done) to reduce mature growth on the steep southern slope. Top left is 'the before' and top right 'the after' shot, both taken over previous summers. This work, which was begun by a team of humans with hand tools, has been carried on by a herd of Belted Galloway cattle. The main shot gives a pretty good idea of what it looks like now. This will produce plenty of new habitat for specialised chalk downland plants and invertebrates, something which we need to recreate where it has been lost, and also to give a helping hand in keep existing downland in pristine condition.
Roll on the spring..