15 February 2021: Essential tree safety works as a result of ash dieback are being carried out in the small “Baynes” car park at the east end of Bowdown Woods. During the works this car park will be closed to the public. Please use the larger “Bomb Site” car park further west along Bury’s Bank Road. The works are expected to take at least a week. We will post an update when the car park reopens. Apologies for any inconvenience.
Know before you go
Parking informationSee below, in 'About the reserve' section.
1 mile Wildlife Walk at Bowdown, 0.75 mile Wildlife Walk at Bomb Site
Variable. The reserve is made up of three areas:
'Bomb Site': flat and surfaced, and accessible for robust mobility scooters and robust wheelchairs.
Bowdown: gentle slopes, soft after rain.
Baynes: steep slopes, uneven underfoot, long flight of steps and a boardwalk.
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitAll year round
About the reserve
1 mile east of Greenham on Burys Bank Road, as you head towards Thatcham. Go straight over the roundabout to the Control Tower, cross the first cattle grid onto the common then the Bomb Site car park is the next turning on the left (north). The car park is at the end of the track. Beware there is a height barrier with a 2m restriction.
There is a further small car park 1 mile to the east. Continue along Bury’s Bank Road then turn left (north) on the track signposted to numbers 90 and 92. The car park is at the end.
Ash dieback safety works will be taking place here from January 2020. A large number of ash trees at Bowdown Woods are showing extensive signs of ash dieback, and may become increasingly unstable. Work by specialist contractors will focus on removing trees which are a hazard to the public, such as along paths and roads. To minimise the number of trees we need to remove and to ensure the safety of visitors, some paths will be closed temporarily and others permanently. There will be signs on site to help you. Please stick to the waymarked routes and avoid areas where work is taking place.The work is being timed to minimise the impact on wildlife. Trees have been surveyed and where possible important bird and bat habitat will be retained.
To find out more, read our ash dieback FAQ
A living landscape
Stretching from the vast heathland at Greenham Common down to the River Kennet, this reserve forms part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape, a Willdife Trust project to create space for wildlife and people together. There are three areas of woodland at this nature reserve, Bowdown, Bomb Site and Baynes.
From bomb site to wildlife haven
The Bomb Site is so named because it was an ammunition store during and after the Second World War. It is a great example of how nature can thrive and develop on a site vacated by people. Many old surfaced tracks create a network through the young birch and oak woodland that has colonised the site. Try the 3/4 mile Wildlife Walk from the car park - it's on old surfaced tracks and ideal for less mobile visitors.
This magical dense ancient woodland gives views across the Kennet Valley. A clearing through the wood creates sunny areas where butterflies bask. Look out for the spectacular silver-washed fritillary and the handsome white admiral. The 1 mile Wildlife Walk takes in some damp clay areas on the lower slopes and steep climbs up to higher, drier ground.
This is the most secretive part of the wood. The dense ancient woodland here has lots of streams and some steep paths. The cool green is a lovely contrast to the open heathland areas. The 1 mile Wildlife Walk has some steep sections, steps and bridges.
Reserve champions - supporting their favourite reserve NatureBureau: "Peaceful and magical - a wildlife-rich mosaic of woodland, heathland and meadow."
Things to do
- Try one of our circular Wildlife Walks (Bowdown Wood - 1 mile; Bomb Site - 3/4 mile; Baynes Wood - 1 mile). Just follow the badger waymarkers.
- Explore part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape on Wild Walk One. This 6-mile circular walk takes in Bowdown Woods reserve. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 158 1:25,000 scale, covers the area of this walk.
- Look out for our seasonal guided walks.
- We run regular work parties on the reserve.