Although one of the largest areas of chalk grassland in the country, Martin Down represents a small remnant of the downland which once covered the chalk. The site includes grassland habitats, together with scrub and woodland, supporting a wide range of downland flowers, insects and birds. This patchwork of habitats has developed over hundreds of years as a result of the influence of man's activities on the natural vegetation of the chalk.
Farmers from the Neolithic age onwards (5,000 years ago) cleared woodland for cultivation. Cleared areas were grazed by animals and, over time, became grassland. Common grazing rights exist on Martin Down today, as they have done since mediaeval times. Traditionally, sheep grazed the downs by day and were moved to arable fields at night. Martin Down was not enclosed and remains an extensive area of grassland surrounded by agricultural land.
Access to Martin Down
Access to the reserve on foot is not restricted, but organised groups or those wishing to carry out natural history studies should contact the Site Manager. Local Voluntary Wardens are helping with the practical work to conserve wildlife. If you are interested in helping in any way, please contact the Site Manager.
PLEASE KEEP HORSES ON THE BRIDLEWAYS AND PERMISSIVE ROUTES.
PLEASE KEEP DOGS UNDER CLOSE CONTROL.
PLEASE TAKE YOUR LITTER HOME.