Downland environment on Whiteleaf HillDownland is an environment characterised by grassland on the chalk escarpments. The distribution of this type in Buckinghamshire is therefore found only in the Chilterns. The landscape is one of dry combes, rounded hills, steeply sloping scarps and free draining chalk soils. Historically it would mostly have been managed in the same way as common land and is really a sub-type of that category.


Downlands were probably most extensive in pre-medieval times but only coalesced into the documented form in the medieval period. Their earliest county-wide mapping by Thomas Jefferys shows their extent just prior to the major phase or parliamentary enclosure. Downland is archaeologically sensitive, containing numerous prehistoric and medieval monuments.