Banstead Commons and Banstead Commons Conservators
|Where is Banstead Heath and how to get there?|
(OS Landranger, sheet 187. OS Explorer, sheet 146 Grid ref.: TQ235545), BCC map.
The largest and most southerly of the four commons with a total area of ~310 hectares (~760 acres), Banstead Heath
stretches from the M25 in the south, to Tadworth roundabout on the A217 to the north with a southern border with
Waltion Heath Golf Course.
Metrobus 460 Crawley - Kingston via Walton on Hill, Tadworth and Lower Kingswood.
Metrobus 420 Crawley to Sutton via Tadworth and Lower Kingswood.
Tadworth Station on the London to Tattenham Corner line is a short walk from the Heath.
There are no car parks on the Heath but plenty of parking on roads adjacent to the Heath
The Heath is very popular with walkers and dog walkers and many paths
criss cross the area. Horse riding is popular, with a number
of stables adjoining or close by, there are more than
8 miles of bridle paths and permissive rides on the Heath for
2011, Sutton and East Surrey Water Company proposed to construct a
pipeline across the Heath from Mogador to Tadworth. As well as
disrupting access to the Heath for a year or more their proposals would
have caused severe medium to long-term damage to the Heath. Thankfully this was prevented and the Heath survives intact
are three clearly visible quadrangular earthworks on the western
side of the Mill Field just south of the mill, probably medieval
Heath consists of a mosaic of habitats including woodland
of Oak and Birch, areas of mixed gorse heath that have been
re-established over the past ten years and open meadow.
For such a large
area, the fauna and flora of Banstead Heath is under recorded. This is partly because compared to many of
the adjacent areas especially the Downs to the south, the area has a
relatively poor variety of variety of species and hence of less
interest. This is predominantly the result of the Heath having a long
history as a working heath with all the disturbance and management that
entails. One of the main aims of the current management policy of the
BCC is to restore and enhance a
range of habitats on the Heath especially with regard to the
reestablishment of mixed lowland heath habitat that might be expected
to occur on this type of soil, a habitat that has dramatically declined
in recent times. All that said, the Heath is home to a wide range of
breeding birds and mammals.
far as we are aware there has only ever been one formal survey of the
plant life of the Heath, conducted by the Surrey Wildlife Trust in July
1994. This resulted in the identification of almost
200 species of flowering plant. Typical plants of the Heath are the
various species of Hawkweed (Hieracium species) that
flower prolifically amongst the meadow grasses in high summer with
dandelion-like flowers ranging from pale lemon yellow to deep orange.
At the southern end of the Heath there are large areas of mixed heather
that provide a colourful display in late summer. In the
autumn many species of fungi can be found.
is a dominant species in many areas of the Heath, active measures are being taken to reduce
the area covered by this resilient species and in many areas we are
encouraging the growth of Ling (Calluna vulgaris) and Gorse
(Ulex europaea) heath in its place.
of Banstead Heath
the most obvious birds of the Heath are skylarks (left, photo Penel Maltby) that
breed in large numbers in the grassy meadows especially Mill Field, in
view of the national decline of this species it is gratifying that the
numbers appear to be increasing on the Heath.
The London Natural
History Society carried out two surveys (1970 and 1990) of breeding
birds in the tetrad that includes both Walton and Banstead Heath.
The results suggested a significant decline
in the number of species present. Over the past few years we have
conducted our own survey on Banstead Heath and the evidence
suggests that the diversity of species is once again increasing
presumably as a result of the more varied habitat produced by our
is a range of heathland birds breeding such as Linnet, Yellowhammers,
Redpoll, Reed Bunting and until recently Dartford
Warblers had established themselves. Unfortunately, the recent
hard winters resulted in the disppearnce of the
Dartford Warbler but the good news is that they have been seen this
autumn (2014) and so hopefully they may stay around and breed next
year. Other noticeable
species include Green Woodpeckers often seen
hunting for insects on the ground and during May and June, Woodcock are
frequently seen at dusk and the past few years have seen
return of Woodlark as a breeding species.Various
mammal species are well represented on the Heath including foxes, roe
deer and badgers. Perhaps surprisingly, evidence for
the presence of dormice has been found. Banstead
Heath is notable for large numbers of butterflies in high summer. The
Browns and Skippers are the dominant species but as with other wildlife
on the heath no definitive information is available as to the exact
species and their relative abundance. One notable insect that was found on Banstead Heath is the Bog Bush Cricket.
reptile species to look out for in the summer is the Adder (left)
which is relatively common on the Heath. This is a shy animal and is
most likely to been seen basking in sunny clearings in the scrub or