Visit Surrey Hills as lockdown eases

Liz Nicholls

spring

As lockdown measures ease and the weather improves, Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty remains a popular destination for both locals and visitors.

The past year has drawn more people than ever towards our green spaces in an effort to find fresh air for exercise and to reconnect with nature.

The Government’s roadmap out of lockdown sees measures eased this week, with the relaxation of the ‘Stay at Home’ rule, meaning outdoor gatherings of either six people or two households will be allowed, making it easier for friends and families to meet outside. From Monday, 12th April, non-essential retail will be able to open including most outdoor attractions and settings and hospitality venues will be allowed to serve people outdoors.

These dates also coincide with the Easter break, school holidays and improved weather, all factors that will see a greater volume of visitors head to the Hills for recreation and relaxation.

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board says: “As lockdown measures slowly ease over the coming months, we expect the Surrey Hills to attract a greater volume of visitors. It is important that those who do come follow the Countryside Code and our guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. We encourage those who do come to seek out the less well-known areas of the Surrey Hills and keep away from the busy beauty spots where it will be harder to socially distance. Please remember to respect, protect and enjoy the outdoors and where possible support the local business community who very much need our custom at this time”.

We encourage residents to be tolerant and visitors to be kind as we see an increased enthusiasm for the Surrey Hills over the coming months. In-line with the newly launched Countryside Code we’ve set out our top tips for visiting this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to ensure the countryside is a safe place for all:

• We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views, and the well-known beauty spots. We advise you to avoid well-known sites such as Box Hill, Leith Hill and the Devil’s Punch Bowl which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance. Instead, why not visit lesser-known areas of the Surrey Hills.

• Please check before you travel that hospitality, car parks and facilities are open. Some local amenities such as loos may not have reopened yet.

Take your litter home, leaving no trace of your visit. This keeps the Surrey Hills a special place for everyone. Please don’t light fires or BBQs unless there is a sign to say they are permitted. It is easy for a fire to get out of control and destroy rare habitats.

Respect local wildlife and look after nature by being extra cautious and sticking to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground-nesting birds and other wildlife.

• Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated footpaths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.

• Remember to consider the local community and other people enjoying the outdoors. Observe social distancing measures to help restrict the spread of the virus and ensure the countryside is a safe place for all

• We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.

• We hope that renewed enthusiasm for the Surrey Hills will translate into more people getting involved in caring for nature, wildlife, and the landscape. Remember to Respect, Protect and Enjoy – breathe deep, stride out, and give a cheery heartfelt hello to those you meet along the way!

Chris Howard, Chairman of Visit Surrey says: “Visit Surrey is delighted to welcome back our residents and visitors to the many attractions our county has to offer. It will, however, be a challenging time for the county’s most popular beauty spots and researching to find some of the Surrey Hills hidden gems may make for a more enjoyable and safer experience. Remember many places, even if they are free, will want you to book in advance. Also, toilets and other facilities will still be limited, so do plan your outings carefully.”

By being respectful of wildlife and the local community we can all benefit from an enjoyable visit to the Surrey Hills

Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills comments: “We would encourage all visitors to plan outings carefully and to check facilities are fully open. As wildlife emerges from the winter, we are seeing large numbers of ground-nesting birds across the Surrey Hills from March until early Summer. Their breeding success is critically dependent on not being disturbed and so we would ask that visitors are considerate, keep to paths and keep their dogs on leads in sensitive areas. By being respectful of wildlife and the local community we can all benefit from an enjoyable visit to the Surrey Hills.”

The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is one of 46 nationally protected landscapes in the UK, having equal landscape status and protection to a national park. The Surrey Hills AONB was designated on 8 May 1958, which makes it the first AONB in southern England to be designated (the first was the Gower Peninsula near Swansea in 1956). The Surrey Hills AONB stretches across a quarter of the county of Surrey and includes the chalk slopes of the North Downs from Farnham in the west to Oxted in the east, and extends south to the deeply wooded Greensand Hills which rise in Haslemere. The Surrey Hills Board is a Joint Management Committee which is funded by Defra, the National Trust, Surrey County Council and the local authorities within the Surrey Hills area.

For further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) visit www.surreyhills.org

Stay connected #SurreyHillsAONB Please follow @SurreyHillsAONB on Twitter & Facebook @SurreyHillsAONB and Instagram @surreyhillsaonb for the latest updates from the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


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Spring has sprung so let’s celebrate!

Liz Nicholls

spring

Bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, and the sun is shining: spring is here!

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire creative company eatsleepdoodle who are celebrating our springtime burst of wonderful wildlife waiting to be spotted. From butterflies to badgers, wild garlic to woodpeckers, there are so many things to look out for!

Butterfly watch

What wildlife can you spot this time of year? Well, we’ve been in touch with Butterfly Conservation, and they have kindly given us a picture guide as to what butterflies and moths you can expect to see in April and May.

Some have even appeared early this year! You’ll see on Butterfly Conservation’s Instagram account, that an Orange-tip (anthocharis cardamines) was spotted in Kent at the beginning of March!

Orange-tip butterfly photograph by Tim Bates and Joanne Fegan

A common butterfly to see all across Britain, according to the Butterfly Conservation’s research, is the Common Blue (part of the Blues family and similar to the Adonis Blue!). They enjoy sunny, sheltered areas, and some of the most common places to find a Common Blue include grass and woodland clearings, road verges and coastal dunes. The male butterflies are the most colourful; bright with a beautiful light blue upper-wing; whereas the females are more muted and usually have larger areas of brown.

Another common butterfly in Britain is the Peacock. The underside of their wings is camouflaged to be hidden amongst leaves, but their upper-wing has beautiful bright colours, which help confuse and startle any predators. They can be found across the British Isles and are most often found in gardens!

Also keep an eye out for the Large White, the winner of the 2020 Big Butterfly Count, these lovely butterflies enjoy a variety of habitats, but can usually be seen in gardens and allotments.

Common Blue

Peacock

Large White

Butterfly Conservation

Butterfly Conservation is a wonderful organisation, aiming to recover threatened species of moths and butterflies, increase numbers of widespread species, promote international conservation actions, and inspire people to understand and take part in conservation.

Last year’s Big Butterfly Count saw the ‘lowest numbers recorded in 11 years’. The average number of butterflies logged by Butterfly Conservation in 2020 was down by 34% in comparison to 2019. However, last year a record number of people contributed to the count, ‘it seems that, in a very dark and challenging year, the opportunity for getting out into nature and helping as citizen scientists were very welcome to people who were able to participate in the Count this year. Butterfly Conservation is thrilled the event was enjoyed by so many people.’

More information on how to get involved with and contribute to Butterfly Conservation’s work can be found on their website here.

Other wildlife

It’s not just butterflies that Spring brings, soon we’ll see new life popping up everywhere! Badger cubs begin to emerge, mallard ducklings start their adventures and frogspawn can be spotted in ponds across the UK. The dawn chorus will get louder and more persistent as the fledglings take flight and more birds are looking to mate.

Spring birds are ready to be found in gardens and woodland across the UK. Cuckoos are calling, woodpeckers are hard at work (carving a nest hole in a tree trunk!) and blue tits can frequently be seen hopping around the garden in search of snacks.

Woodpecker – photo by Strong Fish

Blue Tit – photo by dfkt

The RSPB have a great article about common garden birds to look out for here – this can also help identify the birds you are seeing in your garden in the coming Spring months.

As well as birds and butterflies, other small wildlife venture out in the Spring, like hedgehogs! Did you know that hedgehogs roam an average of one mile each night looking for food? That’s a long way on little legs! Waking up from their hibernation, hedgehogs love gardens as they provide the perfect habitat.

How can you help wildlife?

Gardens provide them with plenty of food and potential nesting sites. Hedgehogs like to eat creepy crawlies, however, during dry periods these can become sparse. You can create a small home and supplement food for hedgehogs in your garden. A shallow dish of water will benefit them hugely and even meat-based dog or cat food can be left out for them. Springwatch suggests that logs, leaves, twigs and natural garden compost make an ideal home for these small creatures (and bumblebees too), if you keep a pile in your garden – visitors may start to appear!

Hedgehog photo by Alicja Gancarz

Another way you can encourage wildlife at home is by letting your lawn grow and trying to establish a flower-rich lawn. This is a great way to encourage bees. Something as simple as leaving a strip of long grass or planting wildflower seeds or nectar plants can help bees, and butterflies too! Recently, we’ve noticed a lot more places such as churchyards and village greens-leaving large sections of grass or lawns uncut as a safe place for bees and other small wildlife.

Don’t forget that if you see a bee struggling, you can gently pick it up (we recommend using a piece of paper!) and give them a few small drops of water with sugar or honey – this should give them a boost! Another great idea is a bee house – this is a collection of small (usually wooden) tubes that bees can use to lay their eggs in.

Plants & flowers

Spring sees a whole new world of colour from gorgeous plants and flowers! The start of Spring is when we see beautiful blossom and daffodils begin to flower, both of which create an instant atmosphere as they open up quickly in the sun.

Whilst these bold blooms begin the month of March, towards April we begin to see the bright hues of bluebells and smell the strong aroma of wild garlic (yum!). Head to any wooded area for your bluebell fix. Bluebells fill the forest floor with a cool blue tone, an added pop of colour to the regular muted tones. Did you know that over half of the world’s population of the iconic bluebells are grown in the UK? Bees love them and we have ants to thank for helping spreading their seeds!

Wild garlic is not only charming but delicious as well! Spending most of the time as a bulb underground, wild garlic then emerges with gorgeous white flowers that explode onto the green leaves during April and May with an amazing firework-like flower. It is the perfect plant for pollinating insects such as butterflies and hoverflies. You can also make your own pesto with wild garlic – scrumptious!!

What are you most looking forward to this spring? We’re excited to see some brighter days ahead and being able to take in the magical spring delights. And we’ll be making full use of our pond life tablecloth and tote bag and butterfly collection to keep track of what wildlife we can spot this year! With bird seed, butterfly references and a pesto recipe at hand, off we go into another enchanting springtime!

Win a Pond Life Tablecloth

We’ve teamed up with Wiltshire’s eatsleepdoodle to encourage you to notice the wildlife all around you and give you the chance to win a Pond Life Colour and Learn tablecloth. To enter to win, all you have to do is follow eatsleepdoodle on social media and tag eatsleepdoodle & Round & About in your wildlife pics on Instagram before Easter Monday (5th April). We can’t wait to see your creations!

Usual Round & About competition T&C’s apply.

So get outdoors and enjoy the nature around you this Spring!


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How daylight savings affect your sleep

Round & About

spring

Three ways daylight saving affect your sleep — and what you can do about it

The clocks go forward on March 28th — marking the start of daylight savings. Unfortunately, this means one less hour in bed, so prepare to feel extra sleepy that day!

As it turns out, this lost hour can have a greater impact than you may initially think on your sleep cycle. To help you prepare, we’ve identified three ways daylight savings affects your sleep, plus three ways you can fix it.

It disrupts your rhythm

Our bodies use circadian rhythm, a sort of internal body clock, to keep track of the time. It takes things like sunlight, how often we eat, and other aspects of our routines to determine when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. So, the hour lost from daylight savings could throw us off track and impact our nightly rest.

Maintaining a routine is crucial if you want to fall asleep easily

Solution: don’t oversleep. Try and keep to the exact same routine as you would normally. It may be tempting to lie in an hour past your alarm to ‘regain’ your lost hour of sleep, or even to have a nap during the day to catch up. But, these may be more detrimental to your body’s natural rhythm than if you were to stick to your regular pattern. Instead, it’s better to simply mourn the lost hour and move on, sticking to your usual routine.

The nights are shorter

This is the time of year where nights start to get shorter. By this, we mean that there are more hours of daylight, which is great for packing in loads of fun activities during the day. But, it can make sleeping difficult when the sun streams into your bedroom at times when you’d usually be trying to rest and recharge.

Solution: separate day from night. Darkness is key for sleep, as it tells our bodies to produce a soporific hormone called melatonin. So, at this time of year, you may wish to try installing thicker curtains or blinds to keep the light out and closing them around two hours before bedtime, so you can start to get sleepy when you need to.

Additionally, it can help to try and get as much light during the day as you can so that your body produces enough melatonin to keep you asleep through the night (NIH).

The weather is warmer

Summer sun is definitely something to look forward to, and the clocks going forward is signal that warmer weather is on the way. Unfortunately, this can mean sticky, sweaty nights and disrupted sleep, which can certainly put a damper on things. According to experts, the optimal temperature for encouraging sleep is between 15 and 20 degrees, much cooler than you might expect (Sleep Foundation).

Solution: keep it cool. The best solution would be to open your windows, as not only will this let the heat out, but the circulating air can make it easier to breathe too. You should also make sure you have a breathable mattress, as well as a lighter tog duvet than you would use in winter. A good summer duvet is generally around 4.5 tog, or anything up to 7.5 if you prefer a heavier blanket.

“The clocks going forward can make you feel off kilter for a few days, but it can have an even bigger impact on your sleep if you let it. Remember that sleep is a cycle, and maintaining a routine is crucial if you want to fall asleep easily and stay out of it until the morning.

“I always think of daylight savings as the start of summer, but, while longer days and warmer weather are a definite plus, if you’re not sleeping well, you can’t even enjoy the sun properly. Fortunately, by taking steps to make sure our bedrooms are the perfect environment for sleeping, we can enjoy a good night’s rest and longer days at the same time.”

Phil Lawlor, sleep expert at Dormeo. For more info please visit dormeo.co.uk


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