Bisley & West End Commons and Reidon Hill
Know before you go
Parking informationNo car park - acess from roadside on A322
Not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility
When to visit
Opening timesOpen at all times
Best time to visitJune-August
About the reserve
Adjoining Pirbright Ranges, West End Common is a 20ha SSSI and Local Nature Reserve that is an equally fine example of lowland heathland and enhances the connectivity of habitat that the local wildlife depends on.
Turn off the A322, find a safe parking space along Lucas Green Road and plunge in. You will soon find yourself immersed in a three-dimensional mosaic of heathland plant species. In midsummer the bright yellow gorse flowers have largely been replaced by the ravishing bright pink of bell heather, which thrives alongside ling and cross-leaved heath.
As you walk along winding, uneven tracks that are often damp even in dry weather, you see how young birch trees are establishing a tentative foothold among the gorse and heather. Left alone, this prolific pioneer species would soon begin to dominate and change the habitat into woodland. SWT spends a lot of time knocking it back, thanks to our volunteers, contractors and occasional visits from our conservation grazing herd. The volunteers also create scrapes and bare ground to encourage invertebrates, and remove scrub.
Depending on when you visit West End, your walk may be accompanied by the sound of firing from the ranges, and every now and again you come across a run of incongruous razor wire, erected to keep people out of the danger area and contain the herd of red deer that SWT grazes on Pirbright.
As you wander through the landscape you come across patches of woodland, including mature Scots pine, oak and holly, along with old hazel coppice stools. Reptiles are common here and there is evidence of foxes and roe deer. The birds don’t seem to notice the background noise and you are likely to see and hear a wide variety of common species, such as the linnet, whitethroat, stonechat, lesser spotted woodpecker, garden warbler and skylark. In summer you will also see many butterfly species, including grayling and white admiral.
And at dusk on a summer evening, with the ranges fallen silent, you can wander the heathland with only nature for company and almost believe you have slipped into another time. This West End really is a wild and exciting place.