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Greenham and Crookham Commons

Greenham and Crookham Commons form the largest continuous tract of open heath in Berkshire. It is special for the mix of purple and pink heathers and golden yellow gorse, wildflower-filled grasslands and expanses of bare gravels - all easily accessible to visitors.

Living Landscape

These commons are at the heart of our West Berkshire Living Landscape which covers more than 27km2 of lowland heathland, ancient woodland, reedbeds, rivers and streams.

Greenham and Crookham Commons on the southern edge Newbury forms the largest area of lowland heath in West Berkshire – a fragile and threatened habitat full of very special wildlife – and is particularly important for some of Britain’s rarest ground-nesting birds, including nightjar, woodlark and lapwing.

Bird Nesting Season – 1st March to 31st July 2016

Rringed plover chick

During the nesting time, we zone off the most sensitive areas to protect the birds. You can help by:

  • Staying on paths and out of the sensitive red zones where birds such as ringed plover like to nest on the gravel.
  • Keeping dogs on paths and close to you to help avoid disturbing nests hidden in the undergrowth.
  • Using the green zones to let your dog run off the lead.

At all times of the year:

  • Bag and bin dog waste using the bins provided.
  • Avoid causing a fire: never discard cigarettes, bring barbecues or light fires.
  • When near cattle and ponies keep your dog on a lead and do not approach the animals.

The BBOWT Seasonal Wardens will be on site during the nesting season, to talk to visitors, answer questions, point out wildlife and deliver great events every weekend.

History of Greenham and Crookham Common

The Commons have a rich history. The heathland is on top of a flat gravel plateau laid down at the end of the last ice age, and since then its use has been many varied, feeding pre-historic hunter/gatherers, used as common land by farmers, and later gaining significance as a military air base. General Eisenhower watched some of the 10,000 sorties flown during D-Day from the nearby Greenham Manor.

At the start of the 1980's, nuclear cruise missiles were stored at the base. The demonstrations against these made regular headline news and galvanised the start of the Peace Women movement in 1981. One mass protest called 'Embrace the Base' saw over 20,000 women joining hands around the perimeter of the airbase.

After decades of military occupation the Commons were officially reopened for public use on the 8th of April 2000, thanks to a partnership between the Greenham Common Community Trust and the then Newbury District Council (now West Berkshire Council).

Rare Heathland

This is the largest single area of lowland heathland remaining in Berks, Bucks and Oxon, and since 2010, BBOWT has been managing the Commons on behalf of West Berkshire Council; working to protect this site for everyone to enjoy.

To discover more about lowland heathland, its wildlife and other BBOWT heathland sites, see the Wildinfo page.


Vital site for birds

Heathland habitat is ideal for certain species of birds because of its open nature, with just a few scattered trees and bushes for them to use as singing posts or look out points. It is also relatively warm and dry and has an abundant food source in the form of invertebrates.

You may be lucky enough to hear the rich and varied song of a nightingale, or the warbling call of a skylark high in the sky.


An invertebrate haven

In summer, the heath comes alive with over 30 species of butterflies including the small blue and the expertly camouflaged grayling. They are joined by dazzling displays from damselflies and dragonflies, all set to the unmistakable music of grasshoppers and crickets.


If you have any concerns about the cattle at the Greenham end of the Common, please contact the farmer on 07983 078793. For cattle at the Crookham end please phone West Berkshire Council on 01635 42400. They will pass a message to the farmer.

Cake by Kanko

Habitat spotlight

Heathland: Even rarer than rainforest, heathland is one of our most threatened habitats.

- Our heathland projects
- Lowland heathland

Wildlife Clubs

What's on

Find the Seasonal Wardens events – something every weekend for young and old alike.

Things to do

Download the site risk assessment.

Your Greenham and Crookham Commons photographs

Share your photos of Greenham and Crookham Commons with us. Add them to the BBOWT flickr group and tag them with 'greenham'.

Nearby nature reserves

Bowdown Woods
0 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Audrey's Meadow
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
The Nature Discovery Centre
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Reserve information

Location
Greenham and Crookham Commons Burys Bank Road
Thatcham
Berkshire
RG19 8DB (nearest to Control Tower car park)
Great for...
birdwatching
historical interest
reptiles
Best time to visit
Jan - Dec
Get directions
Find out here
Public transport
Plan your journey
Opening Times
The Common is open at all times. The car parks at Crookham (RG19 8EJ, SU 524 645) and Pyle Hill (RG19 3BX, SU 484 652) are open 24 hours a day. The main Control Tower car park (RG19 8DB, SU 499 651) opens at 8am, subject to seasonal closing times - please check noticeboards on your arrival.
Size
444.00 hectares
Status
Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
Living Landscape schemes
West Berkshire Living Landscape
Walking information
There are a wide variety of routes – The main tracks across the common are level and accessible for those with limited walking ability, cyclists and horse-riders. Other waymarked routes are colour coded and cross varying terrain.
Parking
There is parking at three main car parks around the Commons. The main car park is located along Bury's Bank Road next to a 1951 control tower and is sign posted from the A339. This car park opens at 8am every morning and is subject to seasonal locking times.
Dogs
Dogs under effective control
Grazing animals
Exmoor ponies and cattle
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01635 35157
info@bbowt.org.uk

Downloads

Factsheets and guides for your visit

Smartphone Safari

Every weekend on BBC Radio Berkshire and BBC Radio Oxford we broadcast a Smartphone Safari. Listen along as we explore some of our fantastic reserves and introduce you to the wildlife you can see.