Stanmore Common Nature Trail

Post 1: Welcome to Stanmore Common. This place is a council owned nature reserve of around 122 acres of mixed woodland, wetland and grassland. The reserve is bisected by Warren Lane, the last unlit road in the borough. The majority of the reserve lies north of the road and this is the direction you are facing at the start of the trail.

Topographically the reserve is a shallow valley with the highest point on the corner of Warren Lane and the Common and the lowest point away to the northeast which lies to your front right. The trails will cross the grain of the valley so it will gently descend and ascend. The steepest slope is up from the lowest point back towards the car park.

The soil structure of the reserve is impermeable London clay topped by pebbles. This means that water is NOT free draining and lies near the surface. When it rains water discharges from springs and so the reserve is always damp and often very wet and muddy underfoot, especially in autumn and winter.

The reserve is very important because of its rare habitats and wildlife. It is rated a Site of Metropolitan Importance to Wildlife and is fully protected by law as a Local Nature Reserve.

Historically the site was part of a much larger open area, and was a Common a site owned by the people and used for grazing, shooting, gravel extraction and breeding rabbits. As you go around the trails you will see evidence of some of this human activity.

Both routes will take you through the main habitats and both will pass interesting features which one can see or hear at all or sometime in the year. The reserve is visited by Bats, Badgers, Deer and Foxes. There are Snakes, Mice, Voles, Frogs, Toads and much more. Its insect life is rich (the site is wet/damp and Mosquitos and biting midges are common) and there is a good range of plant species some are very uncommon.

Taking your time when you go around and being quiet at the stopping points maximises your chance of seeing and hearing the wildlife. If you see something nice do record it and send it to us at

Please respect the wildlife and do not collect wild flowers or fungi (You can go badly wrong with fungi if you do not know what you are doing). It is also important to collect all dog waste and dispose of it in bins or take it away with you. The delicate wild flowers that live the Common are crowded out by ranker plants wherever dog waste adds nutrients to the soil.

From here at post 1 you can follow the Long Trail (red arrows) or the Short trail (blue arrows). These meet in Bluebell Heath at the north of the Common from where a single Return Trail (orange arrows) brings you back here. Including the return leg, the Long Trail is 1.2 miles and the Short Trail is just under one mile long. For the longer trail follow the red arrow into Jake’s Path to the left.

To description for long trail post 2

For the shorter trail head straight ahead down the open Witling Ride. Rides are very important places as within woodlands they are light filled areas which support a lot of wildlife who need the light and heat. Rides need to be kept open and this ride has had work done on it by the Trust for Conservation Volunteers a national charity who do voluntary conservation work all over the UK.

You will see 2 sets of picnic benches. The old set has been here for decades and they were replaced last year by the new ones. We kept some of the old ones as they have nice moss colonies on them.

Keep an eye out for short trail post 2 on the left hand side of the ride. It may be hidden by bracken.

To description for short trail post 2

More on some of the birds you are likely to see or hear on the Common

More on the three species of deer on the Common and their tracks

Click here to learn more about the Harrow Nature Conservation Forum including guided walks and conservation workdays.