Inkpen Common Nature Reserve, Berkshire



Flower-rich heathland, including a pond and a small bog, ringed by oak and birch woodland; remnant of the much larger Inkpen Great Common
Inkpen Great Common was a sizeable area of communal heathland spanning the road between Upper Green and Kintbury in Berkshire, a short distance east of Inkpen village, and now just within North Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The section west of the road has been cleared and is now partly occupied by a row of houses, but the majority of the eastern section survives intact and is protected as Inkpen Common Nature Reserve, approximately half of which is heath, the remainder oak and silver birch woodland, plus a pond and a small area of bog. The site is of interest due to the mix of heath and riparian plants, and the associated birds and insects.

The rarest wildflower here is the pale dog violet, at its only location in the county, while other uncommon plants include heath spotted orchid, dodder, bog asphodel and dwarf gorse. The reserve also incorporates a small triangle of land on the opposite side of the road, once the southern portion of the common, now wooded with birch and oak.

Several paths cross the reserve, enabling a loop walk of up to 0.7 miles, and although partly enclosed by houses, the site is large enough for most places to be out of sight of any such developments, and it has a quite a secluded, rural atmosphere. About one hour is enough to explore the various habitats. The reserve is not so much visited, however, and is popular mostly with local dog walkers.

The Reserve

The nature reserve lies 6 miles southwest of Newbury, on low elevation land near the River Kennet, one mile north of the edge of the downs. Parking is available beside the two entrances, 1,000 feet apart along the road, close to the north and south edges. The land slopes very gently from southwest to northeast but is essentially level. The path from the north entrance passes through a belt of trees then enters a broad open area of heath, which extends southwards, becoming gradually more wooded. The pond and the bog occupy a former gravel pit near the far side, quite close to some houses; elsewhere, the perimeter of the site is tree-covered. Heath plants are evenly distributed across the site while the bog species are restricted to the wet hollow.