Know before you go
Parking informationNo car park - access on foot via Reigate Road and Banstead Road
Mobility kissing gates and some paved footpaths.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitApril to October
About the reserve
Priest Hill has been transformed from abandoned playing fields to a brand new nature reserve.
Nature had reclaimed the playing fields with large areas of rough grassland, scrub and hedgerows having developed over the years. Whilst these habitats supported many species, without management, the site's diversity was declining, particularly within grassland areas.
Over 1,500 tons of tarmac and rubble were removed from the site to clear old tennis courts, buildings and car parks. The restoration of bare ground and chalk in these areas is now providing significant habitat for invertebrates and wild flowers, which in turn support many bird species.
The restoration work is only the start of the site becoming an established nature reserve and the Trust has introduced conservation grazing to control coarse grasses, allowing wild flowers to return. Green hay has also been cut from nearby Howell Hill reserve and spread in some areas to introduce wild flower seed, including kidney vetch. The rare small blue butterfly has now been recorded on the reserve.
Three ponds of varying size have been created to provide wetland habitat. The largest pond has been planted with a variety of aquatic plants, whilst the others have been allowed to colonise naturally.
Many of the existing access paths and tracks have been retained and large mobility kissing gates have been installed at all pedestrian access points that allow buggy and wheelchair access, but prevent motorbikes.
Parts of the site are not open to the public to allow quiet areas for wildlife.