The membership year starts on the 1st April.

Membership subscriptions for 2023 - 2024 are due by April 1st 2023

Not a member ??

Why not join and find out what is happening on your local Nature Reserve with our Newsletter

Membership costs just £5 per year for the whole household

This local group consists of people of all ages, who have a strong interest in conservation.

If you feel you cannot volunteer for work parties, don't be put off from joining, as many of our members support us by their subscription alone and for various reasons don't get involved in any of the work parties.

PLEASE, we do need your support

To join, either email Pauline Knapp our Membership Secretary or call her on 07956 277674 and request an application form. If you email Pauline, she will normally respond within a week.

About us.

The Friends of Holtspur Bank is a group of people interested in the area for various reasons. Many are local people, who over the years have used it as a place for strolling, walking the dog, studying the typical flora and fauna of chalk grassland and ancient woodland, or just enjoying the views and tranquillity of the area. Others come from farther afield to help with work parties on the reserve, or because they read about it in the local paper, or through BBOWT or Butterfly Conservation. The Friends have close links with both of these organisations.

The group was formed soon after Holtspur Bank was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1995 and has had a membership of between sixty and seventy over the years. The first newsletter came out in November 1995 when the Friends of Holtspur Bank logo (see right) was used for the first time. It was designed by Shirley Tuckley, one of the Friends and shows a marbled white butterfly, a dormouse and blackberry flowers.

The Friends have a committee which meets regularly to decide on the work to be done and the timing of the wintertime work parties (last Sunday of the month). It also organises educational walks in summer; glow-worm and bat hunts, as well as the monitoring of populations of plants and animals. The Chairman also acts as Reserve Coordinator and with other Friends liaises with the Town Council over the work programme and Reserve management. From the beginning the Friends wanted a display board on the reserve to give a map of the area together with a guide to the plants and animals to be found there. Consequently it was very pleasing when Thames Water came up with £1000 for that purpose. One of the Friends (Nigel Tuckley) had the skills to do the art work and there was an official unveiling of the display board in the summer of 1998.

Among the improvements achieved on the reserve over the last few years are: the steps built from footpath B33; the steps up from the Riding Lane entrance; the benches erected in various places; paying for the kissing gates; simple things such a buying several sets of tools as well as the ongoing maintenance work of dogwood clearance, coppicing and regular bonfires to burn scrub cut down by contractors.

Unveiling of the display board

The Friends in the early years made and put in place many dormouse boxes to encourage the rare hazel dormouse by providing shelter and possible nesting sites in the woods. Sadly in recent years we have detected no evidence of the presence of dormice.

Kay Rogers writes below about what she gets out of being a volunteer and it is hoped that more people will join to help with activities. Much has been achieved, but there is still a lot to be done!

The work of a volunteer - in their own words

"If you have ever thought about doing something voluntary, but don’t want to work in a charity shop and you enjoy being outdoors, then you can do no better than join The Friends of Holtspur Bank. Once a month from October to March we get together and help maintain and nurture the wood and scrub area that is Holtspur Bank. The activities are diverse and interesting in their variety and it gives an opportunity to learn about things I otherwise would have no chance to do from: coppicing; to putting up dormouse boxes; planting hawthorn hedges; and maintaining footpaths. One of my favourite regular jobs is having a bonfire to burn the scrub cuttings that are trimmed back by contractors; there is something peculiarly satisfying about a bonfire. For me, this is the woods’ equivalent of messing about on the river.

The area is naturally beautiful and working in the nature reserve feels like a privilege, a chance to spend time more closely involved in the natural world. I find that a few hours working in the same area means I look at it in more detail and see things I might not notice while walking through the same area every day with the dog, I particularly like to spot the tiny flowers that thrive there. There are some lovely views across the hills; we often see the red kites circling above us and, in the spring, rabbits and sometimes pheasants running around.

Don’t be fooled, this is not gardening on a larger scale; it is quite different, and much more enjoyable. And as if that wasn’t enough, there is good company to be found and people who, like the activities, are interesting and diverse. Without The Friends’ working parties I probably would not have met them all, which would have been a great shame. There is plenty to do and I always get home feeling a sense of satisfaction at having done something useful and thoroughly enjoyed myself at the same time".