Downlands Partnership - Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area

About the Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area (SWCA)

The Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area (SWCA) lies on the border of Purley and Whyteleafe forming part of the North Downs. This beautiful 200 acre area includes downland, fields, woodland and scrub.

Downlands Partnership Countryside Project Officer Sarah Clifford is the dedicated warden for the SWCA and works extensively with conservation volunteers of all ages and local schools and scout/cub groups, to pro-actively restore and manage the special habitats.

The SWCA is home to many rare chalk grassland species, birds including skylarks, and dormice; Sarah has a dormice handling licence and monitors the dormice on site as part of the National Dormice Monitoring Scheme.

SWCA partnership

We (Surrey County Council) host the SWCA partnership within the Downlands Partnership team and its core funding partners are the London Borough of Croydon, Tandridge District Council and the John Whitgift Foundation. The partners all work collaboratively to aim to restore the downland by actively managing the area, with the vital support of volunteers from the local communities.

The SWCA partnership management aims are:

  • To restore and manage the downland by selective scrub control, mowing and grazing
  • To restore arable fields to grassland and to encourage the survival of uncommon arable 'weeds'
  • To manage existing hedgerows and to plant new ones
  • To encourage public access and community involvement and to provide environmental education

SWCA conservation volunteering opportunities on Mondays and selected Sundays

Sarah runs her popular practical conservation volunteering task days at the SWCA on Mondays and one Sunday per month throughout the year.

This spring season 2023, there are Sunday practical conservation volunteering sessions being held at the SWCA on:

  • Sunday 30 April 2023
  • Sunday 21 May 2023
  • Sunday 25 June 2023

Please call Sarah on 01883 341140 or email: to find out more about the specific tasks taking place on these days and to let her know in advance if you would like to join in on any scheduled dates.

The Downlands Partnership conservation crew also support Sarah with additional tasks at the SWCA throughout the year. They will be joining Sarah on site for a task week in early June to carry out step repairs on the Dobbin.

Sarah also provides fun and informative family environmental education events and seasonal exploration walks in partnership at the SWCA throughout the year. These will be advertised on this page in due course.

Corporate group employee volunteering days are also offered by special arrangement at the SWCA and corporate sponsorship of the conservation work at the SWCA is greatly welcomed. Please contact Sarah as above to further discuss the best options for your specific group size and she will be able to explain the booking arrangements for groups. A copy of our Surrey Countryside Partnerships Corporate Employee Volunteering brochure, which fully details our corporate team volunteering offer, is available by email request and is provided when a group enquiry is made.

Local corporate partner sponsorship of the SWCA by Park and Bailey

The SWCA partnership is very pleased and grateful to have Park and Bailey, estate and letting agents (through Caterham-on-the-Hill branch) as their main corporate partner. Park and Bailey have been providing significant corporate sponsorship since 2014 for the SWCA through the Downlands Trust, the registered charity partner of the Downlands Partnership, and their generous monthly donations are regularly put to great use to purchase items such as volunteer supplies, tools and equipment and environmental education materials.

SWCA proud to be part of the South London Downs NNR

In July 2019, the London Borough of Croydon area of the SWCA became part of The South London Downs National Nature Reserve (NNR), which was excellent news for the SWCA partnership. Having designated South London Downs NNR status in this urban fringe area of Croydon, neighbouring Surrey, is very special and highlights how important the SWCA is for biodiversity and wildlife.