Everyone can escape the busy-ness of life by exploring the network of paths across this beautiful and varied heathland.
A varied landscape
Snelsmore Common contains a range of habitats including heathland, wet mires and woodland making it home to nationally rare bird species including nightjar, woodlark and tree pipit.
When you visit in spring you may be lucky to hear woodlarks singing across the heath. On brash and log piles, look out for adders basking in the sun. You can also see grass snake, common lizard and slow-worm, and the large pond supports a breeding population of palmate newts.
Heather, gorse and mires
Three types of heather can be found amongst the heath; ling, bell heather and cross leaved heath. They are in full flowers in August and September. Other heath plants such as bilberry thrive here too.
Areas of scattered gorse provide perching areas for stonechats and other scrub-loving birds. Mosses and lichens grow between the floor-covering plants.
Snelsmore is one of the richest areas in Berkshire for mosses and liverworts, from greater fork-moss to creeping fingerwort. These wetter areas, known as mires, also contain sedges and rushes, as well as common cottongrass, round-leaved sundew, bog asphodel and heath spotted orchids.
In summer months these are the best places to watch dragonflies whizz by, including golden-ringed (our biggest species), broad-bodied and four-spotted chasers.
The heathland supports a breeding population of the nationally rare nightjar, whilst the large number of insects also makes the heathland a good hunting ground for kestrel and the green woodpecker.
In the heart of the woodland
The broad-leaved woodlands contain mainly oak and birch but sweet chestnut, beech, hazel and willow are common. Winter parties of long-tailed tits feed on the newly forming buds of the trees, they are often accompanied by goldcrests, great tits and blue tits. In the spring the woodland floor is covered with bluebells.
The woodland trees are home to great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, tawny owl and grey squirrel. Whilst the shrubs and scrub provide an ideal habitat for smaller birds such as robins, wrens and warblers.
Conservation and wildlife
Over 75% of the lowland heath like Snelsmore has been lost in the last 150 years and as a result many birds and other animals that inhabit heathland are nationally very rare. Work to restore the heathland at Snelsmore Common involves a combination of tree and bracken removal, and livestock grazing. See more about techniques for managing heathland.
Things to do
- Print our crayon rubbing trail (right) and take it with you when you visit to discover more about the special heathland wildlife here.
- Help us manage this reserve by supporting us.
- Join our volunteer work parties on the reserve and help us manage it for wildlife.
- Tweet your wildlife sightings to @bbowt
- Sign up to our e-newsletter
Download the site risk assessment.
Species and habitats
- Heathland, Woodland
- Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, Greenfinch, Kestrel, Mistle Thrush, Nightjar, Siskin, Song Thrush, Stonechat, Raven, Whinchat, Willow Warbler, Woodcock, Woodlark, Palmate Newt, Adder, Common Lizard, Grass Snake, Slow-worm, Palmate Newt, Bluebell, Bog Asphodel, Common Spotted orchid, Gorse, Tormentil, Round-leaved Sundew, Yellow Archangel, Fly Agaric, Green Tiger Beetle, Small Heath