Moor Copse Nature Reserve, Berkshire


River Pang

Meadows, copses and moist woodland alongside the River Pang, part of North Wessex Downs AONB; good for flowers, fungi, birds and insects
Moor Copse Nature Reserve is a relatively large site, 160 acres, comprising coppices, woodland and meadows alongside and east of the River Pang (a chalk stream) in central Berkshire, considered one of the best reserves in the county. The eastern boundary is formed by the smaller River Sul, while the M4 runs close by to the south. The varied habitats, including boggy areas beside the rivers, result in a good range of wildflowers, birds and insects, plus many fungi in the autumn.

The original reserve consisted of three separate woods, Hogmoor Copse, Park Wood and Moor Copse Wood; the boundaries were extended in 2006 after purchase of adjacent land to the south - several smaller copses and fields, some parts of which are being planted with trees to link the woods together, while other areas will become wildflower meadows.

The main entrance to the reserve is along the busy A430, down a short track leading to a parking place, accommodating about a dozen vehicles. The usual walking route is a 1.4 mile loop, about half through the woods, half across fields.

The Reserve

The present course of the A340 in the vicinity of the nature reserve was established in 1969 when the M4 was constructed; the original road ran slightly to the east, crossing the River Pang at Hogmoor Bridge, a stone structure that still survives, linked by a short track to the parking place, and forming part of the loop walk. Across the bridge, the route, now a path, parallels a hedgerow then passes between two patches of trees, Harescroft Copse and Wigley Copse, both ancient in origin, as shown by indicator wildflowers like bluebell, wood anemone and primrose. Next is a traverse of another field, before the path turns north and enters Moor Copse Wood, after which the reserve is named; this has a mix of young and old trees, with ground flora including early purple orchids. On the far end of the wood, the path curves to the west, crosses another field and enters Park Wood, which contains generally larger, more well-spaced trees, mostly oak and ash, divided into sections by tracks. Beyond this wood, the path crosses the River Pang on a footbridge, into Hogmoor Copse, a mix of ash and hazel, and areas of wet ground. Two paths head south, one beside the river, the other through the centre of the wood, the two meeting again at the far side, next to the car park.