Wilton SP5 5DT
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OS map 130 Grid ref: SU047238

When to visit

Free and open to visit 24 hours a day.

Know before you go

  • The slopes are very steep to climb
  • Not suitable for pushchairs or wheelchairs
  • Dogs on leads are welcome
  • 25.42 hectares

Download the reserve leaflet

About the nature reserve

Middleton Down reserve map © WWT

The curves and dips of this peaceful and secluded reserve in the Chalke Valley offer stunning views across the countryside, but be aware that the slopes are steep to climb. The reserve is a wonderful example of the traditional chalk downland that was once widespread in Wiltshire and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the rich variety of its grassland plants.

What can be seen here?

From May early purple and other orchids blossom on the slopes - common spotted, fragrant, pyramidal, bee, frog and autumn lady’s-tresses. Here too are clustered bellflower and the nationally rare dwarf sedge. Its many butterflies include the rare Adonis blue, common blue and marbled white. Most are attracted by the trefoils and vetches that provide food for their caterpillars.

On late summer evenings glow worms sparkle on the slopes. These are not worms at all, but beetles. The wingless females glow for a few weeks to attract the flying males, only to die soon after laying their eggs. Look out for a large, shiny oil beetle in early spring, or the narrow-bordered bee hawkmoth – a day-flying moth, which looks like a bee. Listen for the rustle of grasshoppers at ground level and the pure notes of the skylark above.

The reserve is grazed by our own Dexter cattle, giving us flexibility to vary the grass height to be best for insects. Since we acquired the reserve in 1988 biodiversity has increased. Grazing also prevents invasion by scrub and coarser vegetation.

How can I get here?

Download directions