Sole Common Pond Nature Reserve, Berkshire


Panorama of Sole Common Pond
Shallow, secluded pond lined by bog, heath and wet woods, between an old plantation and woodland commons; varied habitats in a small area
Along High Street, 4.5 miles northwest of Newbury; RG20 8PT
At seven acres, Sole Common Pond is one of the smallest nature reserves in Berkshire, not often visited and not signposted from the nearby road - High Street, off the B4000, 4.5 miles northwest of Newbury. The reserve is centred on a shallow, slightly acidic pond, about 100 feet across, lined by bog and wet woodland plus a small area of heath, all surrounded by large, mature trees, part of Sole Plantation to the south and Sole Common to the north, this an ancient patch of communal woodland.

The different habitats result in an unusually wide range of wildlife, for a small area, including 19 species of dragonflies and damselflies, various bog mosses including ten varieties of sphagnum, lots of fungi and several rare bog plants such as bogbean and marsh st john's-wort. In midwinter the place looks bleak, muddy and forlorn but in spring and summer the pond is very pretty, its calm waters ringed by the colourful sphagnum mosses and another plants, with the verdant green woods just beyond, a mix of beech, birch and alder.

The Reserve

Access to Sole Common Pond Nature Reserve is via a track, past the east end of the pond, and although much of the adjacent ground is boggy so not easy to walk across, the drier woodland nearby can easily be explored. Half an hour is enough for a visit. Vehicles may be parked along the main road, at a junction with the track, which reaches the pond after 400 feet, slightly downhill. The pond is fed by flushes a short distance southwest and drains in the other direction via a small stream, flowing through the woodland a little way before its waters sink below ground. The pond is a long-established feature, though not natural, formed by an earthen dam constructed at the time when the land to the north was more open, a mix of trees and heathland, used by the local community.