There is pedestrian access for Kings Hill residents to extensive areas of public open space, known as Warren Woods Nature Park, from Amber Lane and also from the bridleway that encircles the residential area as well as vehicle access from Beacon Avenue, which leads to the adjacent Kings Hill Sports Park.
This area of ancient woodland, regenerating former orchards and open grassland glades and a network of tracks is open to all for low key recreational use, including dog walking and nature walks. It is also used by the Kings Hill school children and local groups, for informal educational purposes and it has an important dual role as an important wildlife refuge and green lung for Kings Hill.
The nature park, which includes areas of dense woodland, is home to a wide range of wildlife including badgers, foxes, bats and the shy and nocturnal dormouse, as well as many woodland birds, reptiles and insects, including an array of butterflies and bees.
In order to encourage the inhabiting population of dormice to move freely around the park, a bespoke dormouse bridge has been created over the main entrance to the park from Beacon Avenue, other specific measures to encourage uncommon and declining wildlife in the park include the creation of extensive reptile hibernaculum features, as well as the installation of bird boxes and insect ‘hotels’.
These are footpath routes that the landowner is happy for people to walk but does not intend them to become public rights of way.
This is private land. Whilst you have permission to enter this land on foot for recreation, such permission may be withdrawn at any time and the owner of this land hereby confirms that it has no intention of dedicating any part of this land for public use.
Two small areas of designated Local Wildlife Site are found either side of Bancroft Lane, adjacent to Oslin Walk. These areas of land are defined within the Kings Hill Estate as Nature Conservation Areas (NCAs) which are specifically managed to perpetuate and increase their value to wildlife.
They include a mosaic of different habitat types including unusual heathy grassland, which supports plant communities characteristic of both acid and alkaline conditions. The management regime prevents degradation of the habitat through scrub encroachment and human disturbance and encourages proliferation of acid loving heathers and species that prefer alkaline conditions including orchids and marjoram and use of the site by UK protected species of reptiles (viviparous lizard, slow worm, grass snake and adder), breeding and feeding birds (including skylark, green woodpecker, linnet), invertebrates etc.
In order to encourage use by hedgehogs, which are in decline nationally small hedgehog shaped gaps in the enclosing fencing have been provided, to allow hedgehogs and other small mammals including yellow necked mice, to move freely between the habitats and nearby woodland and gardens. One of these areas also includes a WW2 Pill Box, which was part of the defences located on the perimeter track for the airfield.
This small building is now used by insects including cave spiders and it has been adapted to encourage use by hibernating bats during the colder weather. Information boards have been added to these areas to increase the understanding of why the areas have been retained and their ecological value.
Whilst these areas are not open to residents on a day to day basis, in order to ensure that their value as undisturbed refuge areas is respected, we organise specific excursions into the NCAs with parties of school children and other groups, in order to explore the Pill Box and to learn about the types of habitats and wildlife using these valuable refuge areas and to be actively involved in their conservation. For example, we have involved schools in creating ‘creature features’ specifically designed to encourage use by hibernating lizards and hidden brash heaps, which hedgehogs love to bury themselves in during the winter months.
Footpaths don’t just criss-cross the countryside around Kings Hill, they traverse the village too. They enable residents to reach schools, sports facilities and Liberty Square avoiding the need to set foot on a road.
These miles of ‘greenways’ have been designed as combined pedestrian and cycle routes. With paved surfaces and clever landscaping, they give the sense of a stroll in the countryside.