Resident reflects on nature and wildlife at the heath

Cow parsley near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale

Cow parsley near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale - Credit: Archant

A Royston resident and member of Royston Says No To Gladman has reflected on the beauty of her surroundings and the importance of protecting Therfield Heath.

The bridleway near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale

The bridleway near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale - Credit: Archant

Claire Beale said: “During these weeks of social distancing and staying at home, as a resident of Royston for nearly thirty years, I greatly appreciate that we are able take our daily exercise in lovely surroundings.

“Although not lingering on walks at present, I have many photographs of views and spring wildlife taken in previous years.

“As outlined in the official guide to Royston, the town nestles under the chalk escarpment at the northern end of the Chiltern Hills. I often think of the first people who walked where I do now.

“Six thousand years ago the first Neolithic farmers walked here and recognised the special character of the area, over time constructing the Long Barrow on Therfield Heath, a funerary monument for ritual and burial of their dead and now a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

Garlic mustard near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale

Garlic mustard near Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale - Credit: Archant


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“Later Bronze Age Bowl Barrows located near the Neolithic barrow form part of the round barrow cemetery, further monuments from prehistoric life in the area.

“Apart from enjoying views across the countryside from Therfield Heath, there are many uplifting walks along ancient paths and bridleways around Royston.

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“My favourite walk is along the Icknield Way Path to Therfield village, which passes through Royston along the chalk ridge.

“It’s one of the links in a prehistoric route often called the Greater Ridgeway, extending from The Wash to the South Devon coast. There are views across miles of open countryside, interspersed with woodland and hedgerows rich with birds, insects and flowers.

Cowslips on the bridleway verge in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale

Cowslips on the bridleway verge in Royston. Picture: Claire Beale - Credit: Archant

“The bridleways linking with this path are always a joy to walk, whether coming up from the A10 along Bridleway 14, a Green Lane, or walking up from the little Green at the junction of Briary Lane and Sun Hill.

“Favourite flowers out at this time include cowslips, garlic mustard or Jack-by-the-hedge and cow parsley or Queen Anne’s lace.

“Garlic Mustard is one of the food plants for the caterpillars of an early butterfly, the orange tip which can be seen now. Other early butterflies include the brimstone and the holly blue”

An orange-tip butterfly at Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Nick Beale

An orange-tip butterfly at Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Nick Beale - Credit: Archant

An orange-tip butterfly at Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Nick Beale

An orange-tip butterfly at Therfield Heath in Royston. Picture: Nick Beale - Credit: Archant

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