A brief description of the walk
The heathlands, woodlands and ponds of Yateley Common offer a variety of experiences to visitors.
By following the route on the map you will pass by many of the great features Yateley Common has to offer. To follow this trail we recommend downloading the Nature Trail leaflet, along with rubbing sheets for children.
- Temporarily closed
- Restricted use
The below information relates to various stopping points on route which can be followed using the purple arrows on site.
Starting at Wyndham’s Pool Car Park with the pond down to your left, follow the path through the woods.
- This small group of houses is known as Brandy Bottom. There have been houses on this site for generations. Some of the original properties still have commoners’ rights written into their deeds.
- Just beyond the houses, the open heathland is dominated by heather. It is important to have a variety of ages as a lot of wildlife is specialised to heather of a certain age. Silver-studded Blue butter fly require young heather, whilst Woodlark nest on the bare ground.
- Historically, Yateley Common was an open landscape and traditional uses, such as gorse coppicing, grazing and birch cutting prevented trees and scrub from dominating. Over recent years much work has been done to restore the heathlands, but we also retain scattered trees to act as lookout posts for birds such as the Nightjar.
- Heathlands provide perfect conditions for reptiles which bask in the warm sun of open areas. These include the Adder, Grass Snake, Common Lizard and the rarer, secretive Smooth Snake historically recorded in this area. Monitoring the species found on Yateley Common is an important part of its management.
- Out in the heathland valleys there are a number of ponds designed to be ephemeral, meaning they often dry up in summer. These ponds are important for a range of wildlife including a number of scarce dragonflies and damselflies.
- The woodland is known as the ‘Old Ely’. It is the original site of The Ely pub, now located further west along the A30. The old woodlands contain a number of oaks and are home to a variety of fungi, best seen in the autumn.
- The gorse edges lining many of the tracks in this area are maintained as low hedge lines, in order to allow visitors to gain views out over the heathlands, whilst protecting the heathland species from disturbance. This gorse is known as Common Gorse, but the rarer Dwarf Gorse can also be found on Yateley Common.
- Areas of gorse dominated scrub are ideal place to see the Dartford Warbler, one of the protected species that gives Yateley Common its protected designation as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Protection Area (SPA).
- The areas of scrubbed up woodland are what heathland would naturally become if left unmanaged. Although we clear some woodland to preserve the heathland, we keep other areas in order to increase habitat diversity. Woodlands have their own associated wildlife, the diversity of which increases with age. Bats use this area and can often be seen feeding around Wyndham’s Pool at dusk.
- Wyndham’s Pool is the largest pond on Yateley Common. It probably originated as a fish pond and was later used as a bathing pool with diving board at the north end. During WWII the pond, like others in the area, was drained so that it couldn’t be used as a landmark. The dam you cross was installed in 2016, to replace the previous dam. Today the pond is used for recreational fishing.