Greenham Common

Greenham Common by James Osmond

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.

Location

Burys Bank Road
Thatcham
Berkshire
RG19 8DB (nearest to Control Tower car park)
A static map of Greenham and Crookham Commons

Know before you go

Size
444 hectares

Parking information

There are 3 car parks around the Commons: 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 car park at the Control Tower (RG19 8DB, SU 499 651) opens at 8am, closing times vary

Grazing animals

Exmoor ponies and cattle

Walking trails

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.

Access

The main tracks across the common are level and accessible for those with limited walking ability. Other waymarked routes are colour coded and cross varying terrain.

Dogs

Under effective control

Facilities

Cafe/refreshments

When to visit

Opening times

The Common is open at all times.

For information about the cafe opening times, see below.

Best time to visit

All year round

About the reserve

Bird Nesting Season – 1st March to 31st July 2019

Please do your bit to help us protect nesting birds.

Lots of heathland and grassland bird species nest on or near the ground. All open areas of the Common need protection during the nesting season, but we zone off some of the most sensitive areas to provide added protection to birds such as the little ringed plover. 

You can help protect ground nesting birds and other wildlife at Greenham by:

  • Staying on the main gravel paths and off the sensitive heath and grassland and out of the red zones. 
  • Keeping dogs on the main paths and close to you to help avoid disturbing nests hidden on the ground or in low undergrowth. If necessary keep your dog on a lead.
  • Using the green zones to let your dog exercise off the main paths.

At all times of the year:

  • Bag and bin dog waste using the bins provided or at home.
  • Avoid causing a fire: never discard cigarettes, use barbeques 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 about the common, point out wildlife and deliver great events.

 

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 of 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.

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. 

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.

Things to do

Explore part of the West Berkshire Living Landscape on our two Wild Walks, both of which pass through Greenham and Crookham Commons. 

West Berks Walk One: Enjoy varied wetland wildlife, ancient woods and rare heathland. Starting in Thatcham, this 6-mile circular walk takes in Bowdown Woods nature reserve.

Download the walk

West Berks Walk Two: Walk along the River Enborne, through woodland and pastures. Starting at Thatcham railway station, this 6-mile circular walk takes in part of of Greenham and Crookham Commons.

Download the walk

There is a café on the site run by Greenham Common Control Tower. Please visit their website for information on access and opening times.

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.  

Greenham and Crookham Commons are managed by the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust on behalf of West Berkshire Council.

Contact us

Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)
Contact number: 01635 35157
Contact email: info@bbowt.org.uk

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)