Conference 2015 Field Trips

Organised by the Chichester Harbour, Cranborne Chase, Dorset, Isle of Wight and North Wessex Downs AONBs and the South Downs National Park.

Under the Conference theme of Sharing, Learning, Inspiring, the local AONB Partnerships and National Park Authority have organised a day which will give delegates an opportunity to see a wide range of initiatives and projects.

It is hoped that the field trips will provoke a lively debate and an exchange of views. These views will then be summarised and a resulting paper will be included with post-conference papers, which will be uploaded to this website.

The field trips will take place on Wednesday 1st July.

Field Trip 1

Protected Landscape: Chichester Harbour AONB
Field Trip Name: For land, for water, for all: Discover Chichester Harbour AONB
Leader: Richard Austin


This trip will give delegates the opportunity to discover Chichester Harbour. We’ll start with a short walk to learn about the recreational disturbance of wildlife, before a unique trip out on Solar Heritage, our solar-powered catamaran. After a hearty lunch in the local pub, we’ll visit the stunning beach at East Head, the entrance to the Harbour, to find out about our adaptive management approach with the sea defences, and the fragile habitats of the sand dunes.

In the morning we will travel by coach to Fishbourne, a focus of development in recent years which has had a significant impact on the disturbance of local wildlife and in particular overwintering birds. We will walk from here, accompanied by a guide, to our offices at Dell Quay. After a short comfort break, we will Board Solar Heritage and cruise down the Chichester Channel to see the Harbour from a different view point before returning to Dell Quay.

Lunch will be at the Crown and Anchor Pub.

After lunch we will continue by coach to East Head which is owned by the National Trust. East Head is the sand dune spit situated at the eastern side of the entrance to Chichester Harbour. It is a stunning example of a natural and dynamic coastal feature which is of great interest to environmentalists and ecologists because of its fragile nature. Here we will have a guided walk around the spit to look at the sea defence strategy in practice. The strategy is called “Adaptive Management” and involves taking steps to achieve equilibrium between the sea and the land, with a workable strategy to avoid breach at The Hinge, and to maintain public access to East Head.

We will enjoy an icecream before returning to Winchester.

Themes to be discussed

  • Impact of development on local wildlife
  • Sea defence strategy – Adaptive Management
  • Fragile nature of dynamic coastal features

Difficulty: Moderate – a flat walk of 3.5 miles (2 miles before lunch, 1.5 miles after lunch).
Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Pub lunch at the Crown and Anchor Pub, Dell Quay
Travel: Coach, solar powered boat and walking.
Outbound: 60 minutes minibus from Winchester to Fishbourne.
Return: 60 minutes minibus from East Head to Winchester.
Depart Winchester 9.00am. Return to Winchester 5.00pm.
Max group size: 50

Further details:

Tel: 07918 074165

Field Trip 2

Protected Landscape: Cranborne Chase AONB
Field Trip Name: Collaboration and private sector involvement in farmland conservation
Leader: David Blake

This trip will allow delegate to visit a number of sites and meet a diversity of people who are working with the Cranborne Chase AONB and each other in projects that “conserve and enhance” the farmed environment. The trip will focus on the long-running Farmland Conservation Project which has successfully moved from 100% exchequer funded to 100% private sector funded, the Stepping Stones Project which came out of the NIA programme, the Vodafone Rural Open Sure Signal (ROSS) initiative and the Discover tourism projects.

In the morning we will travel by coach to Cranborne to visit a Farmland Project site where, after coffee, we will also discuss the Vodafone ROSS project. There will be a short walk where we hope to see the Turtle Dove and Grey Partridge that the Farmland Project has helped conserve.

We will then continue to Chalke Valley to meet a speaker from Wessex Water to discuss what the private sector expects and receives for their investment.

Lunch will be a picnic in the Chalke Valley.

After lunch we will take a short walk to a farming partner in the Farmland Conservation Project before a short drive to the Black Dog in Chilmark for afternoon tea.

We will finish the afternoon with a further short walk to the Stepping Stones plant production site to talk to volunteers and the volunteer coordinator about the project and gain an understanding of how it fits with other NIA and landscape scale projects in the region.

Themes to be discussed

  • Effective, sustainable farmland conservation: going beyond AE schemes – how we have address the iterative nature of agri-environment schemes and adopted a farmer-led paradigm
  • Engaging the private sector: opportunities, risks and rewards – how we have disengaged from exchequer funding for key project work attracting private sector funding
  • Sustainable tourism: building the Discover projects with Leader: developing a joined up sustainable tourism sector with Leader funded “Discover” projects
  • Vodafone ROSS programme, bringing connectivity to not-spots p- working with a corporate partner to bring significant economic and social benefit to isolated communities
  • Collaboration between AONB Partnerships and other partners at a regional scale – getting benefit from the NIA bid to create the Stepping Stone Project, see legacy of that work and hear about future plans

Difficulty: Easy – flat easy walking of about 2 miles.
Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Picnic lunch in the Chalke Valley.
Travel: Minibus and walking.
Outbound: 60 minutes minibus from Winchester to Cranborne Chase.
Return: 60 minutes minibus from Cranborne Chase to Winchester.
Depart Winchester 9.00am. Return to Winchester 6.00pm.
Max group size: 15

Further details:

Tel: 01725 517417

Field Trip 3

Protected Landscape: Isle of Wight AONB
Field Trip Name: West Wight Surprises
Leader: Fiona Ellis

This trip will allow delegates to explore some of the western parts of the Isle of Wight AONB with visits to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust at the Bouldnor Forest Nature Reserve, a review of the AONB and tourism and an opportunity to learn more about the Time Taxi and the National Trust’s work conserving a site for nesting Bee Eaters.

In the morning we will travel by coach to Southampton to take the Red Jet Ferry to the Isle of Wight before continuing by coach to Bouldnor Forest. At Bouldnor Forest we will hear how the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust are extending the Forest Schools principles through their Nature Tots and Wild Beach initiatives. Additionally there will be an opportunity to visit the recently restored heathland within this modern coastal plantation woodland. We will then travel along the coast by coach for a locally sourced buffet lunch at Chale Bay Farm.

Following lunch we will walk to St Catherine’s Oratory (Pepper pot) to find out more about the exciting Time Taxi – an innovative archaeological engagement project.

After this we will continue on to National Trust’s Wydcombe Estate where we will hear about the unexpected arrival of Bee Eaters and the management of the visitor pressure that followed this remarkable happening.

From here we will take the Coach to Cowes, for the Red Funnel Red Jet and then coach again to return to Winchester.

Themes to be discussed

  • Biodiversity – Habitat reinstatement through Heathland Restoration work at Bouldor. Bee Eaters – managing unexpected biodiversity events.
  • Sustainable Tourism – Linking in to tourism (Visit IW) and Our Land
  • Historical Environment – Engaging people in archaeology and the historic environment
  • Understanding Protected Landscapes – using natural environment for education and engagement (nature Tots, Wildbeach, and Forest Schools)

Difficulty: Moderate – approx. 2 miles over rough terrain.

Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Buffet lunch at Chale Bay Farm.
Travel: Coach, ferry and walking.
Outbound: 45 minutes coach from Winchester to Southampton + 30 minute ferry journey.
Return: 30 minute ferry journey + 45 minutes coach from Southampton to Winchester

Depart Winchester 8.15am. Return to Winchester 7.00pm.
Max group size:29

Further details:

Tel: 01983 823855

Field Trip 4

Protected Landscape: North Wessex Downs AONB
Field Trip Name: Winning Ways for Wildlife
Leader: Henry Oliver

This trip will allow delegates to to visit north west Hampshire in the North Wessex Downs, which includes the world-famous Watership Down – one of the ‘Icons of the North Wessex Downs’. We’ll learn how the Winning Ways for Wildlife Project has united conservation organisations, landowners and volunteers in taking practical action for local wildlife. We will also see some of the area’s important archaeological heritage.

In the morning we will start with a briefing at Tidgrove Warren, where we will learn about the Winning Ways for Wildlife Project, a partnership between the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Trust, Butterfly Conservation and the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, supported by Natural England. We will see how it forms part of a wider range of landscape-scale conservation initiatives straddling the North Wessex Downs and Cranborne Chase & West Wiltshire Downs AONBs and areas in between. This will be followed by a short walk to a fascinating archaeological excavation thought to be the site of King Henry II’s lost hunting lodge.

We will then move on to the Kingsclere Downs where the Winning Ways for Wildlife team has been working with local landowners to carry out chalk downland restoration as part of a strategic project to benefit the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. This will be followed by a short walk across the downs with views of Watership Down en route. Continuing north we will stop briefly on Walbury Hill (the highest point in SE England) to see Combe Gibbet, site of recent works to protect a Neolithic long barrow.

Lunch will be at the Swan Inn in Lower Green.

After lunch we will look at some chalk grassland creation undertaken by the Faccombe Estate through arable reversion and then learn more about the willow tit research undertaken in the area with a visit to some willow tit woodland. This will also provide an opportunity to hear how the North Wessex Downs AONB Team has been facilitating small woodland management.

Finally, descending to the Bourne Valley (northern tributary of the River Test), we will pause at the Bourne Valley Inn in St Mary Bourne for tea and cakes before returning to Winchester.

Themes to be discussed

  • Biodiversity – Winning Ways for Wildlife landscape-scale conservation
  • Sustainable Tourism
  • Archaeology and heritage
  • Woodland Management

Difficulty: Moderate – including a flat walk of 2.5 miles (1.5 mile before lunch and two short walks after lunch).

Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear

Meals: Pub lunch at the Swan Inn
Travel: Minibus and walking
Outbound: 45 minutes minibus from Winchester to Tidgrove Warren
Return: 45 minutes minibus from Bourne to Winchester

Depart Winchester 8.30am. Return to Winchester 6.30pm.
Max group size: 15

Further details:

Tel: 01488 680454

Field Trip 5

Protected Landscape: South Downs National Park
Field Trip Name: People, Place and Passion
Leader: Nick Heasman

Description This trip will provide an insight into some of the work of the authority and partners of the UK’s newest and most populated National Park. The emphasis will be on engagement with people, connecting to place and igniting passion to action in the context of landscape-scale delivery.

In the morning our first stop will be at the heart of the city of Winchester at the National Trust city mill to hear about the South Downs National Park shared identity developed for and by partners and stakeholders to enhance their sites and messaging as well as supporting their own brands/identities – it is an ‘identity’ we all share!

Then it’s onto the South Downs to a farmed estate to look at projects undertaken through the South Downs Way Ahead – Nature Improvement Area (NIA) which was established to create joined up and resilient ecological networks at a landscape scale.

Lunch will be a buffet at the Thomas Lord Pub, West Meon.

After lunch we walk onto Old Winchester Hill National Nature Reserve and an iron age hill fort and SSSI chalk grassland to partake in a John Muir Award activity which is a national environmental award that encourages people of all backgrounds to connect with, enjoy and care for wild places through a structured yet adaptable scheme. We will also hear about the development of the Learning Outside of the Classroom in the park.

Next visit to the River Meon a chalk stream to hear about one of the largest Water Vole reintroduction projects in the UK and the enabling work with stakeholders to a develop community led monitoring of the river health through the Riverfly Monitoring Initiative.

Refreshments will then be sought prior to our return from a local pub/café.

Themes to be discussed

  • Enjoying and understanding/sustainable tourism – creating a “Shared Identity” for the South Downs National Park
  • Biodiversity – The South Downs Way Ahead – Nature Improvement Area
  • Enjoying and understanding – Education outreach programme and use of the John Muir Award
  • Biodiversity – species reintroduction and water quality monitoring at a landscape scale

Difficulty: Moderate – approx. 2.5 miles with one ascent on a well-made path.
Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Pub lunch at the Thomas Lord Pub, west Meon.
Travel: Landrover and walking.
Outbound: 10 minutes Landrover journey to City Mill, Winchester.
Return: 40 minutes Landrover journey from Meon Valley to Winchester

Depart Winchester 9.00am. Return to Winchester 5.30pm.
Max group size:24

Further details:
Tel: 01730 819338

Field Trip 6

Protected Landscape: Dorset AONB
Field Trip Name: Isle of Purbeck
Leader: Alison Turnock and Tom Munro

Description This field trip gives an opportunity to discover the heathland-rich southern side of Poole Harbour and the eastern coastline of the Dorset AONB. Visiting National Trust and RSPB partners, the trip will take in some of the Isle of Purbeck’s unrivalled scenic diversity and showcase the fruits of a history of landscape conservation partnerships. Key aspects include biodiversity conservation, visitor management, climate change and coastal management.

We’ll start with a visit to Arne RSPB Reserve, to have a short walk around their recently-acquired saline lagoon and discuss coastal management in the context of sea level rise, visitor management and partnership engagement in the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area. We hope to see Spoonbills and Sika during the morning.

A quick visit to this recent land acquisition for the National Trust will follow. Formerly plantation forestry, this is a chance to see heathland restoration in action and to talk about the site’s management as part of a 1700 hectare single grazing unit with two other landowners.

We’ll take in the Studland viewpoint (King Edward VII’s “Finest view in the kingdom”) overlooking Rempstone Forest and the fringes of Poole Harbour in which lies Wytch Farm, northwest Europe’s largest onshore oilfield. Heathland clearance undertaken by the Forestry Commission as part of the Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area is evident. The oilfield may also be the key to the area’s ongoing conservation; a significant landscape compensation package is awaiting final sign-off.

Lunch will be a local food buffet in Studland Village Hall, provided by Dorset Food & Drink member, The Salt Pig. It will include pork from their Mangalitza pigs foraging on the Arne RSPB reserve, among other delicious local produce. Vegetarians also welcome!

After lunch, we’ll visit Studland Beach. Here we will talk with National Trust partners about the Cyril Diver project ( looking at ecological change on the Studland peninsula over the last 80 years. New challenges face the peninsula not least of which is sea level rise and increasing fire risks, but it’s a stunning place of shifting sand dunes, heathland and beach.

After learning about Cyril Diver, his legacy and the power of citizen science behind our modern understanding of the biology of this intriguing site, we’ll spend some time on the beach taking the view of Old Harry’s Rocks beyond which is the site of the proposed offshore wind farm Navitus Bay.

We’ll enjoy refreshments on Studland beach before heading back to Winchester.

Themes to be discussed

  • Biodiversity management in partnership – Wild Purbeck Nature Improvement Area, large-scale grazing and deforestation
  • Landscape character compensation agreements (potential of £3.1M in this area)
  • Coastal adaptation and sea level rise
  • Biodiversity succession over 80 years and the power of citizen science

Difficulty: Easy – a series of short, relatively level walks.
Take walking boots, sun hat, sun cream and wet weather gear.
Meals: Local buffet in Studland Village Hall, provided by Dorset Food and drink member, The Salt Pig.
Travel: Train, minibus and walking.
Outbound: 90 minute train journey from Winchester to Wareham.
Return: 20 minute minibus from Studland to Wareham and 70 minute train journey from Wareham to Winchester.
Depart Winchester 8.00am. Return to Winchester 7.00pm.

Max group size:15

Further details:
Tel: 01929 557337