The land is owned by Haileybury College but managed by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust under a long lease. As a registered common, there is full public access on foot. Horses and bicycles may use the designated bridleways. The reserve is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by English Nature. It is in two parts:
The Roundings, behind the College Arms, contains Hertfordshire’s best remaining damp heathland with its typical plant community of ling heather, purple moor grass and wet pools of sphagnum mosses and rushes. This habitat can be rapidly lost through invading scrub and trees and the Heath clearly demonstrates this natural succession, although the Trust is actively involved in preventing any further loss of heathland and in reversing the process by clearing secondary woodland. This special habitat has acidic soils with plants such as heath bedstraw, tormentil and petty whin growing among many other heathland plants. There are several ponds and wet areas which are themselves the special habitat for aquatic organisms including water spiders, dragonflies and damselflies, together with amphibians such as newts, frogs and grass snakes.
Goldingtons, the other section of the reserve, between Mount Pleasant and Heath Lane, is predominantly woodland: mature hornbeam coppice and more recent oak and birch woodland. It also has a large pond which supports a fine show of delicate flowering water violets in the spring. There is a whole range of birds and small mammals which make the reserve interesting at any time of the year.
The Trust is supported largely by voluntary members who provide the funding and also do a large proportion of the manual maintenance work. The local volunteer warden is Jackie Clark who will always welcome held with maintenance work, surveying or recording to monitor the effects of the management, financial contributions or just an expression of interest.
Regular task days are organised on the third Sunday of each month from September to April. All are welcome – not all the work is physically demanding! If you would like more information, ring Jackie or turn up at 10.00 am on one of the task days: the meeting point is outside the East India College Arms.
Also with the parish, and adjacent to The Roundings, is another reserve – Balls Wood. This is owned now by the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust. There is free access on foot, but no right of way for horses or bicycles. Balls Wood is largely secondary woodland (ie re-growth after cropping of timber) but also includes several grassy “rides” and small ponds. The open areas are rich with wild flowers, such as primroses and orchids, and in the summer many butterflies can be seen.
The volunteer warden for Balls Wood is Paul Hewitt – tel: 01920 425463. He organises volunteer work parties on the fourth Sunday of each month: meeting at the Elbow Lane entrance to the wood at 10:00am.