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Hungerford SN8 3RG
OS map 158 Grid ref:SU333617

  • Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
  • Please stay on the path. Do not climb the northwest-facing slope as this will damage wildflowers
  • 1.51 hectares

Ham Hill reserve map © WWT

Ham Hill is a tiny area of steeply sloping chalk downland strewn with wildflowers and offering great views. A path runs through it and a flight of steps leads to the top of the embankment and through the ash woodland. The reserve is part of a holloway (sunken track) dating back to Saxon or medieval times on the route from Hungerford to Andover. The banks are a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest for their rich variety of plants and wildlife. In spring, cowslips, early purple orchids and violets provide food for the caterpillar of the Duke of Burgundy butterfly.

In July look for the tiny, yellow-green, powerfully scented musk orchid, a nationally scarce species that is found in very few sites in Wiltshire. You may also find a few burnt orchids. Twayblades, common spotted, fragrant and pyramidal orchids are scattered throughout the reserve. Birds such as chaffinch and yellowhammer nest in the bushes. Listen for the deep croak of roosting ravens. Look out for the rare Roman snail, Britain’s largest. Its spherical shell ranges from white to grey, has pale brown bands and grows up to 5cm across.

The site is grazed with sheep by a local grazier. This controls the scrub that would otherwise crowd out the wildflowers. Volunteers help clear the scrub and coppice some of the trees.

 Roman snail © David Short Duke of Burgundy © Stephen Davies Chaffinch © Graham Coules Early purple orhids © Steve Day

Directions

If driving –Reserve is located near village of Ham, south east of the A338 Hungerford to Burbage road. From Burbage turn right off A338 after about five miles and follow signposts to Shalbourne and then Ham. From Hungerford turn left off the A338 after about two miles and follow signposts to Ham. In the middle of Ham take road south, signposted to Buttermere and Andover. Reserve is on left side of road about 0.5 miles outside the village. No designated parking area but room for two cars on edge of road beside kissing gate at northern end of reserve. There is also space to park at southern end of reserve by woodland; continue along road up the hill and take next left turn, park here on verge of the road to Buttermere.

If using bus - The 20/22 Marlborough-Great Bedwyn-Hungerford bus service stops at Crown and Anchor pub in village of Ham. From pub there is a 20 minute walk (0.9 miles) to the reserve entrance. Visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/parkingtransportandstreets

If cycling – No National Cycle Routes in the vicinity. Visit www.sustrans.org.uk

Nearby reservesJones’s Mill

What to see locally - Highclere Castle (7 miles), Ludgershall Castle (8 miles), Donnington Castle (9 miles), Finkley Down Farm Park (10 miles)

 Ham Hill location map © WWT
(Photo: Ham Hill © Paul Darby)