Horsell Common near Woking has a unique claim to fame, as the place H G Wells chose for a Martian invasion in his 1898 novel War of the Worlds! In reality, the shallow bowl of the famous Sand Pit, notorious as the site of the invasion, is a very special habitat and home to 1000s of insects! In the spring and summer, it’s a hotspot for solitary bees and wasps, including fascinating species like the Bee Wolf and Green-eyed Flower Bee. If you look out for them on a sunny day, around the banks of the Sand Pit, you’ll be reminded of the figure of speech “busy as a bee”!
A much-loved recreational space, Horsell Common is also part of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, protected for its special heathland birds. Education Officer Michael has introduced many of you to his favourite bird, the Nightjar, on his popular Nightjar walks here. He calls the walks “Three Churrs for Horsell Common”, named after the curious churring sound these fascinating birds make in the twilight. To help the Nightjars, and other ground-nesting birds like Woodlarks and Dartford Warblers, and maintain Horsell Common as a protected area, it’s essential that we keep to main paths from March to September, especially in and around the open expanses of heather or grass. And it’s important to keep dogs under control and with you on the main paths, as birds that nest on the ground are easily scared off their nests. That’s why we say #PawsOnPathsPlease at this time of year. It’s not necessarily that dogs chase or even harm the birds, but if they’re repeatedly scared off, they’ll eventually abandon their nests. If in doubt, keep to the woodland areas, amongst the pine trees or use one of the alternative nearby walks we suggest below.
Please do help us spread the word, by keeping to the main paths from March to September we will protect the birds, and other wildlife, and help to preserve the special character of Horsell Common for future generations.
Good to know…
Find a free car park on Shores Road, Horsell, near Woking in Surrey GU21. What3Words: lied.tame.curvy.
Dogs are not required to be on leads, but please keep them close and with you on the paths. If you’re not sure of your recall, please keep them on a lead.
If you’re a regular dog walker and would like to try somewhere new, to help protect this fragile place, our top recommendations are Heather Farm off the A3046 Chobham Road (1.2 miles), Woodham Common on Monument Road (0.3 miles) and Chobham Water Meadows in Chobham village (2.9 miles). Our ‘Greenspace on your doorstep’ pages have loads more options too.
If you’re interested in practical volunteering, Horsell Common Preservation Society run regular work parties and would love you to join them.
Horsell Common gallery…
[Click on the images for the full size versions, and to see the captions for more information]
Thank you everyone 🙏
Thames Basin Heaths Partnership