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Padworth Common

Padworth Common nature reserve is a tranquil haven for wildlife with heathland, woodland, ponds and alder-lined gullies.

A diverse heathland

The purple swathes of open heathland are set among a tapestry of ancient oaks, grasslands, ponds and pine trees. The common also reveals carpets of moss over undulating mounds of wet heathland. The edges and slopes of the heathland dip down into gnarled oaks and alder in the wet gullies. In spring, marsh-marigold, lesser celandine and opposite-leaved golden-saxifrage grow in abundance here.

A sanctuary for specialists


The heathland supports a community of rare, specialist species. In the summer months at dusk, you may hear the long vibrato song of the nightjar resonating across the open heath.

A number of other heathland birds are either resident or regularly breed here such as Dartford warbler, tree pipit, stonechat and woodlark.

Reptiles and amphibians

Padworth is also home to a number of reptiles including adder, grass snake and slow-worm. Amphibians include common frog, toad and both palmate and smooth newts.

Beautiful butterflies and other insects

During the spring and summer months the heath buzzes with activity, butterflies including the elusive grayling use the heath. It is hard to spot on gravelly areas basking with wings closed and tilted in a peculiar fashion. When disturbed it reveals a vivid eye-spot to ward off potential predators.

You may be lucky to see the emerald glint of a green tiger beetle passing along the tracks, or hear the buzzing notes from a bog bush-cricket, crawling among the wet areas of purple moor-grass.

A bustling pond

A lovely way to while away half an hour or so is to sit near the main pond on North Common and enjoy the darting dragonflies and damselflies. They include the broad-bodied chaser, golden-ringed dragonfly, downy emerald and common hawker. Here you can also spot a variety of aquatic insects and larvae.

A link to the Kennet

The common is nestled on the upper plateau of the Kennet Valley and can form part of a walk down to the River Kennet and back, past a Norman church, Padworth College and the Kennet and Avon Canal. The paths on this reserve enable anyone wishing to get away from busy life, a quiet walk for a few hours.

Things to do

Nearby nature reserves

Decoy Heath
1 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust
Upper Inhams Copse
2 miles - Hampshire and IOW Wildlife Trust
Paices Wood Country Parkland
2 miles - Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust

Nature reserve map

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Reserve information

8 miles south-west of
Map reference
SU 619 648
Great for...
Best time to visit
Mar - Sep
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Opening Times
Open at all hours
28.00 hectares
Walking information
Several public footpaths and bridleways and other minor paths cross the common which is itself bisected by the main road. Paths on north common remain relatively dry throughout the year whereas those on south common are seasonally wet but more level. Terrain is largely flat.
Take the A4 from Reading west towards Newbury. Approaching Aldermaston Wharf turn left onto Padworth Lane and continue as the road becomes Rectory Road. After a little over 2 miles, fork right, just before the junction with the main road. The car park with height barrier is immediately on your right. PLEASE NOTE: The vehicle access to the main car park at Padworth Common is restricted due to road works for all traffic coming from the north end of Rectory Road (from the A4). Please enter from the south end of Rectory Road, off the main Burghfield/Reading Road, through one of the road barriers. The approximate finish date for the works will be around Monday 18th December 2017 but please check prior to visiting.
Dogs allowed
Reserve manager
Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Tel: 01635 35157

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.