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  • Writer's pictureSim Elliott

The Landscape, Flora & Fauna of Lower Greensand and Chalk; Leith Hill to Ranmoor Common. 02.08.22

On Tuesday 2nd August I visited Leith Hill for the first time since I was a teenager, when I issued to go with my parents and grandparents, when they lived in Horsham. I took the train from Brighton to Holmwood (changing at Three Bridges and Horsham), and walked to Leith HIl Tower (2 miles)

The path to Leith Hill Tower

Meadow Brown

Swallows on a power line, Anstelbury Farm

Pied Wagtail

Through the woods


Leith Hill is an outcrop of Lower Greensand, which gives it its characteristic geomorphology flora and fauna. Broadly speaking, the Greensand Ridge runs along the northern edge of the Weald in a west-east arc from Surrey into Kent, just south of and parallel to the chalk escarpment of the North Downs. The ridge is separated by a mixed deep and shallow, fertile depression from the North Downs referred to as the 'Vale of Holmesdale', formed on Gault Clay, and a narrow band of Upper Greensand that outcrops at the foot of the chalk scarp (ridge). In some places the clay vale is very narrow: for example at Oxted the gap between summits of the Greensand Ridge and the North Downs is less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi).

The Greensand Ridge, capped by the resistant sands and sandstones of the Hythe Beds, reinforced by bands of chert, rises steeply as a series of high, wooded escarpments between Gibbet Hill, Hindhead (272 metres (892 ft)), north of Haslemere, and the ridge's highest point, Leith Hill (294 metres (965 ft)). Greensand Ridge - Wikipedia


Heather; Leith Hill has much acid heathland as a result of its geology

Buff-tailed Bumblebee

Meadow Brown




Buff-tailed Bumblebee on Spear Thistle

Leith Hill Tower. The Tower was built in 1765 by Richard Hull of Leith Hill Place as 'a place for people to enjoy the glory of the English countryside'. You can see many hollows on the nearby slopes and it's thought that the materials needed to build the Tower were quarried on site. Leith Hill Tower | National Trust

As the weather was poor there was little Wildlife around; so I decided to walk to Denbies Hill side (7 miles) away on the chalk of the North Downs as I knew there were many Chalkhill Blues there. I walked along the Greensand Way from Leith Hill to (I on map 5) to Wotton (C on map 6), from where I walked up a public footpath up the scarp slop of the North Downs to Denbies Hillside (National Trust)

The Greensand Way


Invasive Himalayans Balsam



Meadow Brown

Peregrine Falcon

Meadow Brown


Robin catching flies on horse poo

Speckled Wood

The path up to Denbies Hillside

An island of creeping thistle in an arable field

The footpath through the field to Denbies HIllside


No water

The level crossing (footpth crossing)

Denbies Hillside (National Trust) - chalk downland, see: Denbies Hillside | National Trust

Male Chalkhill Blue

Female Chalkhill Blue

Chalkhill Blue

Common Carder on Spear Thistle

Chalkhill Blue on Spear Thistle

Chalkhill Blue in Wild Marjoram

Small White on Filed Scabious

Chalkhill Blue on Hogweed

Meadow Brown

Ranmoor Common SSSI

The [ancient] woodland has mainly beech and oak trees and offers an excellent view from the North Downs Way. Ranmore Common - Woodland Trust

A Yew

A very work female Common Blue

A worn male Common Blue

Another female Common Blue on Spear Thistle

Another worw female Common Blue

Common Blue of Wild Marjoram

Chalkhill Blue

Ranmoor Church

Goldfinches on a blasted Oak

Another Yew

Female Meadow Brown