Bluebell Walks

Rushall Farm, Stanford Dingley

Enjoy a family walk in the bluebell woods at Rushall Manor- normally during April. Check their Website to see what is available for 2021.

Rushell Farm
Moor Copse, Tidmarsh
A place of great character

Large swathes of tranquil woodland surround a patchwork of meadows and pastures set in the heart of the Pang Valley in Berkshire. The River Pang meanders through the woodland providing a beautiful setting that is thought to have inspired E. H. Shepard to illustrate The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame.

An Aladdin’s Cave

The four areas of woods are floodplain woodlands that provide homes to many species that love moist ground, such as alder trees and clusters of yellow iris. Plentiful supplies of rotting wood lying in the damp attract a range of fungi, beetles and other insects.

Seasonal highlights

Moor Copse is a wonderful reserve to visit all year round. In spring, woodland flowers and meadow flowers provide a colourful carpet whilst birds sing their hearts out.

In summer, butterflies are abundant, including the handsome silver-washed fritillary whose larvae feed on violets. Dragonflies and damselflies, such as the beautiful demoiselle and the brown hawker hunt up and down the river.

In autumn, the woodlands provide vibrant colour as the leaves gradually turn, and a diverse range of fungi, including deadman’s fingers and green elfcup, push up from the leaf litter, or appear on dead wood.

As winter creeps in you may see a fox or stoat as they work hard to survive. Walks by the Pang and through the meadows are truly memorable when the landscape is encrusted with a sparkling winter frost.

Creating new grassland

In December 2006, with generous support from its members, BBOWT was able to purchase land adjoining Moor Copse, which doubled the size of the reserve. Supported by an active volunteer group, the Trust is restoring the area for wildlife.

The extension contained a field which the Trust has been transforming into a flower-rich grassland. Thousands of trees have been planted to link the existing woodland areas. Other areas will be left or lightly grazed to form tussocky patches which attract small mammals such as mice and voles, which in turn provide vital food for predators such as the barn owl.

Encouraging water voles

Recently cleared trees from a stretch of Sulham Brook will encourage the nearby water vole population to colonise this part of the stream. The much-loved water vole is Britain’s most endangered mammal because of predation by non-native mink.

Coronation Meadows

Moor Copse is one BBOWT’s most charismatic wildflower meadows which have been named Coronation Meadows. HRH Prince Charles, as patron of RSWT, Rare Breeds Survival Trust and Plantlife, initiated the Coronation Meadows project in 2012/13. It celebrates the historic and extraordinary diversity of meadows, and encourages the creation of many more in the next 60 years through seeds and green hay from the Coronation sites.

5 miles west of Reading
Moor Copse

Bowdown Woods, Newbury

Parking information

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

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.

Bowdown walk
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.

Baynes walk
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. 

Bowdown Woods

2 1/2 miles south-east of Newbury
RG19 8DA
Bowdown Woods

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