Grazing cattle on these beautiful water meadows maintain a diverse wildlife habitat.

Location

Farnham Road
Elstead
Surrey
Nearest postcode: GU8 6LE

OS Map Reference

SU895441
A static map of Thundry Meadows

Know before you go

Size
16 hectares

Parking information

Limited parking in lay-by on Farnham Road

Grazing animals

Cattle

Access

Not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.

Dogs

No dogs permitted

When to visit

Opening times

Open at all times

Best time to visit

April to August

About the reserve

Come to Thundry Meadows any time from early spring to late autumn and you’ll find a dozen young belted Galloway cattle working hard to keep the site in prime condition. For example, their selective munching of the tussocky grassland near the entrance has created an ideal habitat for harvest mice.

Reptiles including the grass snake and common lizard use this area as a winter refuge. Further west there are dozens of anthills covered in mouse-eared hawkweed, with distinctive white hairs on its leaves. Dyer’s greenweed is here too, but becoming less common, as ground that was once limed reverts to its natural acid condition.

Among the notable flowers, the devil’s bit scabious is an important late nectar source for insects. Veteran birches, some almost standing deadwood, and marsh thistle attract invertebrates, which provide abundant food for goldfinches and other birds.

As you move through different fenced sections (or compartments) the habitat changes to alder carr scattered with birches. Here the wet ground is criss-crossed by a network of ditches, originally dug as WWII tank defences and now fed by natural acidic springs.

Look carefully and you’ll see the tiny yellow flowers of opposite-leaved golden saxifrage. It is threatened by highly invasive Himalayan balsam, which the Trust’s dedicated volunteers regularly clear, along with hemlock water dropwort, which is poisonous to cattle.

Between woodland and river, a pond is home to amphibians, dragonflies and greater spearwort. Thundry has more than 50 bat boxes, installed and monitored by Surrey Bat Group, and a WWII pillbox has been turned into a bat hibernaculum thanks to a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. On the riverbank hazel screens and groynes create calm pools and protect against erosion. Water forget-me-nots and dragonflies are returning and an iridescent reed beetle (Donacia bicolora), which lives on branched bur-reed, is a notable summer presence.

Looping back towards the site entrance, you encounter Thundry’s most remarkable habitat: one of the few examples of quaking mire in Surrey. This is a mat of vegetation floating in liquid peat, which is home to bog-bean, ragged-robin, marsh cinquefoil, white sedge and star sedge. Among the plants, raft spiders dip their front legs in the water to detect prey.

Contact us

Contact number: 01483 795440
Contact email: info@surreywt.org.uk

Environmental designation

Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

Location map